More history was made on Friday evening as the Atlanta Braves took down the Nationals 9-6 in the Nation's Capitol.
2023 has been a season to remember for Braves fans. I'm not sure anyone expected this team to be THIS good. Atlanta fans knew they had a good team coming into the year but this iteration of the Braves has been above and beyond expectations that were set for them.
While they have been shattering franchise records, there's one player who has set a precedent that didn't yet exist in Major League Baseball. That player is Ronald Acuña Jr.
1. Ronald Acuña Jr. joins elite club while creating one of his own
It was just a few seasons ago that superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. was on the cusp of reaching a season with 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases but fell just short. However, in 2023, he's become a man on a mission as he has shattered set records and created new ones.
Acuña Jr. has been stealing bases at a ridiculous pace and his offensive production has matched that level putting him on the cusp of history Friday night in DC. Ronald had already made history by being the first player in MLB history with 30 HR and 60 SB in a single season.
He had also joined Eric Davis and Barry Bonds as the only players in the 30-50 club. Before 2023, no player had ever collected more than 52 stolen bases during a 30 home run season.
There was skepticism that he would be able to reach 40 home runs as he wasn't hitting homers at an insane pace. He had 30 home runs by the end of August which is impressive enough. However, once we reached the month of September, Acuña turned on the afterburners.
Ronald had hit 9 home runs in the month of September prior to Friday's game and there were still 8 days left in the season to add to that total. The 10th homer of the month came Friday against the Nats and was the most special of them all.
Facing Patrick Corbin and down to a 3-2 count, Ronald Acuña Jr. launched a line drive home run into the left field seats to hit his 40th of the season. He was basically floating around the bases the moment the ball left his bat.
This home run allowed him to join an elite club of players to reach a season with 40 homers and 40 stolen bases. Acuña joins the ranks of Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Alfonso Soriano as the only players to post a 40-40 season. The 46 steals Rodriguez acquired in 1998 previously stood as the highest total during any 40-homer season.
Well, Acuña has shattered that stolen base total as he currently sits at 68 on the season. That means when he hit his 40th homer, he not only joined the 40-40 club but he also created a 40-50 and 40-60 club. If he gets two more stolen bases, that will create a 40-70 club which is absolutely insane to think about.
"“It’s incredible...You think of how many players have played in the big leagues, and my name is alone. But I’m sure somebody will break that record, too.”"- Ronald Acuña Jr.
Will that mark ever be reached again? It's certainly a possibility but the question is more of how long will it be before someone does. Ronald even recognizes that his record could be broken one day as he stated in an interview through his interpreter, Franco Garcia.
Ronald's homer excited Braves fans but it also excited the people of his hometown in La Sabana, Venezuela. He feels an immense sense of love for his community and has always wanted to make them proud.
Based on the footage circulating out there, he's done just that. Tonight's feat should absolutely lock up Ronald Acuña Jr. as the National League MVP. I'm not sure what else he would need to do to prove himself worthy of the award.