In case you missed after the Braves lost in the playoffs for the 21st time in 33 season. Ronald Acuña is good at baseball. How good? Really good. Really really super elite. 26.7 career WAR. Blistering speed. More blistering bat. 161 home runs and 180 steals by his age 25 season, and that’s after losing nearly a full season to a knee injury and playing through the Frankenstein 2020 season.
Ronald Acuña Jr. delivered a message to the Dodgers and to the rest of baseball in September. He’s the best, and from the looks of things, he will be for a long time.
Check out the 2024 line. He’s projected at 44 HR and 52 SB. No one has even done this before. That is, until Ronnie’s 41 HR-73 SB season this year.
In recognition of his historic season, the Major League Baseball Players Association, as part of their Players Choice Awards, named him their National League Outstanding Player & Player of the Year for 2023.
Top of the charts. @ronaldacunajr24 led the league in hits (217), runs (149), stolen bases (73) and HRs from the leadoff spot (41) and set a @Braves record for most stolen bases in a season. As voted by MLB Players, introducing the 2023 #PlayersChoiceAwards Player of the Year! pic.twitter.com/2tZgMnVdMp— MLBPA (@MLBPA) November 2, 2023
It is Ronald’s first MLBPA NL Outstanding Player of the Year and Player of the Year award. Previous Braves to these awards are Freddie Freeman in 2020 and Andruw Jones in 2005 when they both won the NLOPotY and PotY awards.
Calling attention to individual players is something that traditional media, baseball announcers, and the Commissioner’s Office itself has shied away from doing in the past. To them, baseball players should be these stoic figures like the players in the past. Players are more animated with celebrations in the last 10 or so years than they ever have been before.
It’s causing issues with traditional media types and with traditional fans. They feel like they should be these quiet individuals with no name on the back that quietly acknowledge the fans with a tip of the cap. That’s the way Babe Ruth did, after all. Those that point to those historic figures also don’t take into account the media environment in those types. In the 1920s, Babe Ruth was a god. Baseball was unquestionably America’s favorite sport then. Ruth was the Michael Jordan of his time, if only the NBA was the only serious sport, there was no television, NBA games were the only sporting event on the radio, aside from college football and horse racing, and the children of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia only played hoop. Babe Ruth didn’t have to strut his stuff. The world came to him. And if he did behave on the field the way that he did in public (sans drinking and getting naked) would anyone blame him?
Bro, no one cared about the Cubs’ anemic chances for the playoffs. You can’t stop the game? You sure no one stopped the game during the McGwire-Sosa HR record chase? I remember Cal Ripken Jr. lapping the stadium in the middle of the fifth inning, and deserved to do it. Now, I know it means more to Chicago because the Braves have made as many playoff appearances in the last 33 years as the Cubs have in 147, but you ain’t got 2 minutes?
No one cares about slap hits and bunting and hustle. They like home runs, stolen bases, setting records and dynamic players. (Capital B) Baseball will never accept this. Forget the World Series TV ratings. It’s why baseball will slowly fade away with hockey back behind e-sports, disc golf, and probably corn hole. And I don’t think Baseball cares as long as the owners are making money.
The game is about Ronald Acuña. The game is about Shohei Ohtani. The game is about Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos, and the Phillies celebrations. It’s about bat flips and staredowns. It’s about having fun. Those things, along with Ronald Acuña’s murderkilling season should be celebrated.