Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The astonishing Ronald Acuna’s doubly delicious day

Ronald Acuna led off the first game of Monday’s doubleheader against Miami with a home run. In the press box, Braves publicist Jonathan Kerber announced that this was Acuna’s third leadoff homer of the season and his first since Aug. 11, meaning his first in two whole days. 

Guess he had a slow Sunday, I said to Mr. Kerber. Who said, on cue, “Yeah, he waited until the second inning.” (Which Acuna indeed had -- two-run shot in the bottom of the second versus Milwaukee.) 

Acuna then led off the second game of Monday’s doubleheader with a home run. It was his fourth leadoff homer of the season and his first in six hours

In the history of humankind, how many performers have been better than their advance billing? The Beatles, yes. LeBron, maybe. But not many. And it’s possible Acuna will hit .158 the rest of his career, in which case forget I said anything. At this moment, though, the consensus best prospect in baseball looks, you’d have to say, even better than that. He looks like THE BEST PROSPECT IN THE HISTORY OF BASEBALL. 

I’m getting carried away, I know. But to watch Acuna is get carried away. What can’t he do? (Well, pitch. Though the Braves now have Touki Toussaint to do that.) Last week in Washington, he hit a home run and deprived Matt Adams of a home run in the same inning. Over his past four games: leadoff homer, second-inning homer, leadoff homer, leadoff homer. 

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He became the fourth player ever to lead off both ends of a doubleheader with a homer. He became the youngest player in the live-ball era to hit a home run in four consecutive games. After his homer in Game 1 on Monday, ESPN Stats & Information tweeted that he became the youngest player with five homers in six games. Then he made it six in seven. 

He was special from the moment he arrived in the majors, and now he’s showing off – in a good way, I emphasize. He has 17 home runs and 39 RBIs in 65 games. Over a full season, that would translate to 42 and 97. He was late coming up because of silly baseball service regulations, and he missed a month to injury. “He’s making adjustments,” Nick Markakis said after Game 1, and here we pause to note the first four hitters in the Braves’ lineup: Acuna, Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman and Markakis. That’ll do. 

(Aside: At some point in his career, Acuna will be hitting third for the Braves. For now, I’m pretty sure Brian Snitker will settle for a 1-0 lead in the first inning every time out.) 

Acuna’s doubleheader: 5-for-8 – yeah, he made three outs – with two walks; six RBIs; five runs; three extra-base hits (two of them homers). By winning twice, his team leads the National League East by a game. Oh, and Toussaint was dazzling in his first big-league start. Other than that, Monday was pretty uneventful. 

Last week Snitker said of Acuna: “He’s far from a finished product.” We leave you with that thought. Right now, you’re shocked when this 20-year-old makes an out. How much better might he be when he’s, like, 21?

About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.

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