It marked the second night in a row that 20-year-old Acuna, the youngest player in the majors, drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning vs. the Cubs. He did it Tuesday with a home run that made him one of only three players in more than a century of Braves baseball to be as young as he and homer for the go-ahead run in the eighth inning or later, joining Andruw Jones and legendary Hank Aaron.
Albies, the youngest player in the majors until Acuna was called up April 25 from Triple-A, is tied with five others for the major league home-run lead with 13 and tied with Boston’s Mookie Betts for the majors lead in extra-base hits with 30. Albies has hit .283, with a stunning .598 slugging percentage and .918 OPS in 42 games.
Acuna, in his first 20 major league games, has hit .275 with six doubles, four homers and a .348 OBP and .500 slugging percentage.
“I mean, they are what they are,” said Braves veteran pitcher Brandon McCarthy, 34, who doesn’t try to downplay how unusual it is to see two players so young have this success and play with such confidence and aggressiveness.
“They’re not 20, 21, whatever the hell they are. It doesn’t feel like you’re watching kids play,” McCarthy said. “They’re just very, very talented. Ozzie’s aggressiveness is incredible, and then Acuna you can just see, game after game, coming into himself and figuring out what he can and can’t do. But that said, with them it just goes from there – I mean, young guys in the bullpen, young guys all over that are doing exactly what they have to do, night after night.”
Albies, generously listed at 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, is tied for the majors home-run lead with the likes of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. He has more homers than Mike Trout or behemoths including Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.
McCarthy was asked if he thought these kids were capable of this after seeing them at spring training.
“I mean, I saw that Ozzie was 5-6, so it’s natural -- like waiting for Dustin Pedroia to prove it -- it’s like, naturally inside you’re going to think big people are going to do as well, or something’s wrong. Now that I see Ozzie’s all-around game, paying attention like you’re not really paying attention in spring, you realize this is a complete baseball player who can do a lot of things that I didn’t see coming in the spring.
“Acuna, I mean, I saw that last year -- I watched some of his games and saw him in the fall league -- and it was like, I knew this was kind of what we were going to see.”