Ronald Acuña Jr. has been an absolute stud for the Braves as of late, and even when his team hasn’t been performing to the best of their abilities, he still finds a way to remind the folks at home just how much better he is compared to the bums around him. The latest exemplar of this talent separation happened Thursday night, while Atlanta was down 9-2 to the Mets.
New York’s J.D. Davis hit what looked to be a home run off Josh Tomlin in the top of the sixth. As the ball was headed toward the wall in left, Acuña started sizing up the direction that the ball was headed and preparing to make a leap. In an affront to the laws of gravity, the outfielder jumped really fucking high and snagged the near-homer at the apex of his leap to record the out. He finished his play calmly sitting on the warning track, cool as you like.
This wasn’t the first big defensive highlight from Acuña this series. On Tuesday, he showed off another skillset against the Mets: his absolute cannon of an arm. Todd Frazier of Toms River, N.J. was the unfortunate victim of that one.
ESPN noted the ball tracked at 99.1 mph on that play, and it was the sixth time this season that he recorded an outfield assist with a throw that went at least 99 mph. Since we’re here, these are some other incredible facts about Acuña’s season that David Schoenfield pointed out:
Acuña is 21 years old and hitting .299/.378/.543 with 34 home runs and 28 stolen bases. He leads the National League in runs (101), hits (147) and stolen bases (28). He is fourth in home runs and heating up in that category with nine home runs already in August.
He is a lock to become the first 30/30 player for the Braves since Ron Gant in 1991 and has a chance at becoming just the fifth player with 40 home runs and 40 steals in the same season, joining Jose Canseco (1988), Barry Bonds (1996), Alex Rodriguez (1998) and Alfonso Soriano (2006).
In short, he is catching up to Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich in the MVP race:
• Acuña: .294/.378/.543, 34 HR, 81 RBI, 101 R, 28 SB, 5.0/4.8 WAR
• Bellinger: .316/.414/.663, 39 HR, 90 RBI, 93 R, 9 SB, 7.6/6.3 WAR
• Yelich: .333/.425/.699, 39 HR, 85 RBI, 83 R, 23 SB, 6.0/6.4 WAR
Second, he is hitting .325/.377/.610 against breaking balls (curves and sliders), the second-highest batting average in the majors behind Andrew Benintendi and the fourth-highest wOBA behind Mike Trout and two Rockies.
Acuña now has 60 home runs before turning 22, tying him for fourth on that ledger with Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Robinson, and trailing just Eddie Mathews (72), Tony Conigliaro (84) and Mel Ott (86).
In other words, between these two plays, and the stats he’s put up this season, it appears that Acuña has gone full sicko mode.