Ronald Acuña Jr Granted Permission to play in Venezuelan Winter League
Ronald Acuña Jr has been granted permission by the Atlanta Braves to play for the Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League. He will be allowed to play five games while serving as the team’s Designated Hitter.
Acuña had expressed a desire to play this winter in his native country. However, coming off a major knee injury in 2021, there were some thought that Acuña may take it easy on the knee and rehab throughout the offseason to prepare for 2023.
The reason being that, although Ronald Acuña Jr had returned and played well during the 2022 season, he was not the normal Ronnie we had come to know and love over his first few seasons. He still put together a .266/.351/.413 slash line with 15 HR, 71 R, 50 RBI, and 29 SB in 119 games. However, there were times where Acuña did not look 100% and he even mentioned he was not 100% on his surgically repaired knee. This mostly affected his defense as he was not as comfortable playing the outfield on a daily basis. He was still worth 1 DRS in 792 innings but the stress on the knee was causing some issues on the offensive side of the ball.
The biggest concern was in his launch angle. He saw his line drive rate drop from 23.0% to 18.3% and his fly ball rate drop from 45.6% to 34.0%. Meanwhile, his ground ball rate was up from 31.3% to 47.7%. The power and exit velocity were still there but he was not able to drive the ball in the air like we were accustomed to seeing from Acuña. Most believed this was due to him being uncomfortable with his knee.
This led some to believe the Braves may not allow Acuña to play in Venezuela this winter. Instead, opting to let him rest his knee for 2022. The two sides reached a compromise that will allow Acuña to play five games as the DH. Personally, I love it. If the Braves and Acuña believe his knee is fine, let him play. This keeps the superstar happy and could allow him to work out some of the kinks in his swing.
Hopefully, with a normal offseason, we will see Ronald Acuña Jr. back to doing Ronald Acuña Jr. things in 2023.