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Ronald Acuña Jr. wins first career MVP Award

Ronald Acuña Jr. turned in one of the best seasons in Braves’ history in 2023 and was rewarded Thursday night with the National League MVP Award.

Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game Three Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images

Check another item off the list. Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. was named National League MVP Thursday night beating out Dodgers teammates Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. Acuña received all 30 first place votes to win unanimously. Betts received 30 second place votes.

Acuña put together a banner season in 2023 rewriting both the Braves and Major League Baseball’s record books. He became the fifth player in major league history to have 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a season. He didn’t stop there as he became the first player to ever have 40 homers and 70 stolen bases in a single season.

His numbers were astounding. He hit .337/.416/.596 with a 170 wRC+. Acuña led the majors in hits with 217, runs scored with 149 and stolen bases with 73. His runs scored and stolen base totals were modern day franchise records for the Braves eclipsing the previous marks held by Dale Murphy and Otis Nixon.

Perhaps most impressive for Acuña was the improvements he made in his plate discipline. Acuña struck out just 11.4% of the time and finished the season with 80 walks and just 84 strikeouts. He tied Betts for the major league lead with 8.3 fWAR and did it while drastically underperforming his xwOBA .428 to .463. On FanGraphs’ leaderboard for fWAR, Acuña is the only player in the top six that underperformed his xwOBA.

Acuña is the ninth Braves player in franchise history to win MVP and the first since Freddie Freeman won the award in 2020. The others include Chipper Jones (1999), Terry Pendleton (1991), Dale Murphy (1982, 1983), Hank Aaron (1957), Robert Elliott (1947) and John Evers (1914).

Matt Olson finished fourth in the voting after leading the majors with 54 homers and 139 RBI. Austin Riley finished seventh. Ozzie Albies and Marcell Ozuna also received votes.

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