By: Kipp Branch
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Pitchers and catchers report in just a few weeks.
The Major League Baseball season is quickly approaching and it is time to start talking baseball, while the Kansas City Chiefs are in the process of winning back-to-back Super Bowls.
Back to my topic, who the most exciting player in baseball?
That answer is easy to me his name is Ronald Acuna Jr. Is there a more beautiful swing in all of baseball than his? The ball just explodes off his bat.
I have been watching videos of him hitting bombs this offseason in his native Venezuela with the classic bat flip and doing some humanitarian work in a once great country that has been ravaged by a dictator.
The pandemic shortened season of 2020 kept Acuna from chasing the 40-40 HR/Stolen base club. He blasted 14 home runs in just 46 games and 202 plate appearances.
Acuna recorded 40 hits with 25 of them going for extra bases. He battled a nagging wrist injury that hampered him all of last season. Acuna had an OBP of .406 which is outstanding and walked 38 times in those 202 plate appearances.
The offensive stats are always going to be there with Acuna. The consistency of where he plays in the field has not.
Cristian Pache’s arrival in center field means that Acuna will move permanently to his natural spot of right field, where he can settle in defensively. Acuna has been blessed by the Baseball God’s with a cannon for a right arm.
Back to Acuna and the 40/40 club discussion. Becoming a member of the 40–40 club is an elusive achievement in modern American baseball, as very few players possess both the power to hit 40 home runs and the speed to steal 40 bases in a season.
Generally, a player with the strength to hit 40 home runs will not have nearly the speed necessary to steal 40 bases, and vice versa.
There are only four members of the 40/40 club in the history of baseball:
Members of the 40–40 club:
1988 Jose Canseco Oakland Athletics 42 40
1996 Barry Bonds San Francisco Giants 42 40
1998 Alex Rodriguez Seattle Mariners 42 46
2006 Alfonso Soriano Washington Nationals 46 41
In 2019 Acuna barely missed the elite club by belting 41 HR’s and stealing 37 bases. Acuna could be the first player to achieve this milestone more than once in his career.
I actually think in the next 5 years Acuna will be the only man in MLB history to reach the 50/50 club.
The 2021 Braves are good enough to win the World Series. Probably should have beat the Dodgers in 2020 but we will chalk that up to lack of playoff experience.
I do know this, if I’m looking for one player to build a baseball team around it would be Ronald Acuna Jr.
He is a generational talent, and I would not be surprised if he wins the NL MVP in 2021.
The Braves have him signed to a long-term deal, but soon will have to renegotiate that deal to make Acuna one of the highest paid players in the game.
Braves fans, baseball season is almost upon us, and I hope we enjoy the next few years because they have the potential to be special, and Ronald Acuna Jr. will be the best player in baseball during that run.