Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies are a force. So much that Freddie Freeman jokes that the 3-through-9 spots in the Braves’ lineup don’t even need to show up.
The Braves’ youthful combo decimated the Marlins on Friday, combining to go 7-for-10 with four runs scored, five RBIs, three homers and a double. It was the latest high point of their simultaneous surges.
“What they’ve done on this road trip alone is pretty special,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “They’re making this offense go right now. From pitch 1, Ronald can do something special. Ozzie seems to be getting four hits every game. It’s quite the 1-2 punch they have going on right now.”
Acuna, 21, and Albies, 22, are doing the unprecedented. We’ll start with the second baseman: The switch-hitting Albies collected his third four-hit game in the past four nights Friday. He’s the third Braves player in 112 seasons to notch three four-hit games in a four-game stretch, joining Marcus Giles (2003) and Kenny Lofton (1997).
Albies has 13 hits in his past 20 at-bats, a .650 batting average, with a 2.000 OPS in his past four contests. He has 17 hits over a seven-game hitting streak entering Saturday.
“That left-handed swing is looking real nice right now,” Freeman said. “I think everyone knows what he can do right-handed. Seems whenever they bring a lefty in you can almost guarantee it’s going to be a hit right now with how he’s feeling.”
Acuna, meanwhile, is doing everything he can to vault himself in the MVP conversation. He homered twice Friday, bringing his season total to 32. He’s stolen 26 bases, putting him within striking distance of the fifth 40-40 season in MLB history.
The right fielder homered in four consecutive games, making him the first in MLB history to collect a pair of home-run streaks spanning four-plus games before turning 22. He’s hit .381 (16-for-42) with seven home runs in nine August games.
“This is why this team is so good,” Freeman said. “We’re so deep in the lineup. We lost Nick and Dansby, and we’ve been able to keep going scoring runs. It hasn’t been many people different these past couple nights. It’s been Ronald and Ozzie. They’ve won the games for us.”
Acuna hasn’t garnered much MVP talk despite his gaudy numbers and the Braves’ second-best record in the National League. That’s more because of the favorites, the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and the Brewers’ Christian Yelich, than it is Acuna.
It seems that even achieving the 40-40 feat might still leave Acuna in third place. But Freeman said if his rate of production continues, Acuna should be more prominent in that conversation alongside Bellinger and Yelich.
“He’s hitting .300, leads the lead in hits, in runs scored,” Freeman said. “If he was in the middle of the lineup, he’d probably have 100 RBIs already with the way he’s been swinging. He’s doing it all. What Yelich is doing is what Ronald is doing, too. If he keeps going like this, it’ll be hard for him not to be in that conversation.”
As much credit as Freeman bestows upon Acuna and Albies, the numbers are even shinier with him involved. In the past five games, those three have combined to hit .486 (34-for-70) with 11 homers, 25 runs scored, 21 RBIs and a 1.542 OPS.
Overall, the top three places in the Braves’ order have hit 85 homers and scored 287 runs, both best in the NL.
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