- By Gabriel Burns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Ronald Acuna has been the talk of baseball over the past 51 games. The Braves rookie outfielder has surged ahead in the rookie-of-the-year race, and his offensive breakout in the leadoff spot has propelled his club into first place.
Here are notables that define Acuna’s first season:
1. Acuna is one of seven players to launch 25 homers before turning 21 years old. He’s hit 18 of those in the second half, second most in baseball.
2. Acuna’s eight lead-off homers are the franchise record, one more than the previous record set by Marquis Grissom in 1996, when the Braves were defending their World Series title.
3. Since moving to leadoff, Acuna’s 43 runs are the most in the spot. His 1.109 OPS is fourth highest in the bigs. Those numbers resulted in him being intentionally walked twice four days ago in Arizona, making him the first under-21 Brave to receive that treatment in 110 years.
4. The defense hasn’t been bad either: Acuna has manned every outfield position. He’s handled 80 starts in left, seven in center and three in right. He’s looked the part of a Gold Glover at each spot, chasing down flyballs and making eye-popping leaps and dives.
5. Acuna will participate in the 2018 Japan All-Star Series with the USA team in November, a prestigious honor that’ll allow him to compete at a high international level while broadening his profile. Manager Brian Snitker pointed out how beneficiary it will be for him to play with several star teammates, including Christian Yelich, Yadier Molina and others.