Though the Atlanta Braves offense has scuffled at times this season, one man who has not missed a beat at the plate is Ronald Acuna, Jr. The young leadoff man swatted his 11th dinger of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday evening. We know the 2021 season is barely over a month old, but Acuna is off to a lightning fast start and is definitely a candidate for National League MVP at this point.
At the time of this writing, Acuna leads the Majors in homers (11) and runs scored (32). The 23-year old also leads the NL in total bases with 80 (Baseball-Reference.com). Here are three fun facts about Acuna that you may not know.
Acuna Hails from Venezuela
Acuna was born on December 18, 1997 in La Guaira, Venezuela. The Atlanta Braves signed Acuna for only $100,000 when he was just 16 years of age back in 2014! It did not take long for Acuna to fully develop as a professional, as he only needed three years in the Minor Leagues before becoming ready for the big leagues.
He is a Legitimate Candidate for the Elite 40/40 Club
One of the most revered clubs in baseball is reserved for players that hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a single season. Only four players in MLB history (Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Alfonso Soriano) are in this rare category. Acuna came utterly close to achieving this astounding feat back in 2019, but he came up short by only three stolen bases. As long as he can stay healthy, Acuna has the titanic power and blazing speed needed to achieve such a prestigious award.
The Big Money Contract Has Not Changed Him
No one knows for certain how an athlete will handle a large amount of success and the money that comes with it. The Braves know that they have a bona fide superstar on their hands in Acuna. That is the reason they rewarded him with a generous eight year contract worth 100 million dollars back in 2019.
With the mega deals that players like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Francisco Lindor have signed lately, it looks as if Atlanta got one heck of a hometown discount with Acuna! What is nice for fans to see is that the big money has not changed Acuna’s diehard work ethic or his love for the game of baseball. If you flip on a Braves game these days, you will still see Acuna laughing, smiling, and going all out on each and every play!
Braves fans hope Acuna can help get their favorite team back to the World Series again real soon. Atlanta was oh so close in 2020 but fell short in the NLCS against the eventual champion Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games. As long as Acuna is in a Braves uniform, Atlanta will be a force to be reckoned with in the National League!