If you cannot yet digest it, here it is again:
“I’d be lying to you if I said I thought I was gonna get this done and that I was gonna be able to do it,” Acuña, surrounded by his two sons, Ronald and Jamall, said through interpreter Franco García, after the game. “It was one of those numbers that wasn’t impossible, but seemed impossible.”
In the bottom of the 10th inning of Wednesday’s game against the Cubs, Acuña provided another reminder that, with his talent, nothing is impossible: He stole his 70th base to create the 40-70 club. He is the first player in MLB history to hit at least 40 home runs and steal at least 70 bases in the same season.
After notching his 70th stolen base, Acuña then scored the winning run when Ozzie Albies smoked a single to right field as the Braves defeated the Cubs, 6-5.
In this victory, Acuña – who hit a rocket single to score the tying run in that bottom of the 10th inning – made history.
Well, it might be more accurate to say he added to the history he had already made.
Acuña is now the only member of the following clubs: 30-60, 40-50, 40-60 and 40-70. His records could stand for some time, as Acuña is a combination of power and speed this sport has rarely seen.
Consider this: Of the players who have stolen at least 70 bases in a season, Rickey Henderson hit the most home runs while doing so – and had 28 of them. Acuña has 41 and counting.
Acuña is the first player to swipe 70 bags in a season since Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury stole 70 bases in 2009. Acuña is only the seventh player, since 1995, to achieve this feat. Jose Reyes and Kenny Lofton, who are part of that group, were terrific players, but didn’t possess the five-tool starpower of Acuña.
“Amazing,” Ozzie Albies said. “He’s the real MVP. He did what his dream has always been to do. He’s always talked about it and always wanted to do it. I’m happy and excited that he did it. And here at home with a big crowd.”
“I just want to thank God for the incredible moment,” Acuña said. “Really grateful for my teammates, the coaches, the support staff and all the fans who have been supporters the whole time. It’s really an incredible moment.”
When members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America vote for the National League Most Valuable Player Award in the coming days, “40-70″ could ring through many writers’ heads. Acuña and Mookie Betts each possess strong cases for the honor, but the Braves superstar has quite literally put together a season unlike any other.
Acuña’s 1.010 OPS leads the NL, as does his .414 on-base percentage. His .336 batting average is second. His 41 homers are fourth, his 104 RBIs tied for seventh. His 146 runs scored are a Braves record for the modern era (since 1900). He’s two stolen bases shy of the Braves’ modern-era record, set by Otis Nixon in 1991.
“Right now, I was talking about it with my teammates, we were just saying three words: MVP,” Marcell Ozuna said. “No doubt. There’s no doubt.”
With Tuesday’s victory, the Braves clinched home-field advantage until the World Series. They could secure home-field advantage in the World Series as soon as Thursday. This all means that, eventually, one of the sport’s biggest stars will soon be on its largest stage, for all to watch and appreciate.
A year ago, Acuña didn’t look like himself. He battled knee inflammation and soreness. He struggled to unlock the same speed and athleticism he possessed before he tore his ACL in 2021.
This season is the best version of him we’ve ever seen. He’s impacting all phases of the game with regularity. And then, of course, there’s the history, which gives context and perspective to what he’s doing.
On Aug. 31 at Dodger Stadium, Acuña created the 30-60 club by launching a mammoth grand slam. On Sept. 22 in Washington, he became the inaugural member of the 40-60 club.
And then on Tuesday, he furthered this history by stealing his 69th and 70th bases of the season. He has, once again, accomplished what no one ever had. The question now: How long will it be until someone achieves it again?
The 40-70 group could be a club of one for years to come.
“I don’t have the words to express it,” Ozuna said. “But 40 homers? People can do it. Forty and 70? One player? That’s a lot.”