Breaking down Ronald Acuna Jr.'s first inning dominance in 2023

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves
Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages
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Atlanta Braves fans are no stranger to the great ballplayer that is Ronald Acuna Jr. However, even they are in awe of the season he is putting together so far in 2023. Ronald looks like he is a man on a mission and things are going swimmingly, so far.

While the season as a whole is going well for Acuna, it's the first inning that stands out when you look at his stat line. As of May 28th, Acuna was batting .500 across 54 plate appearances in the first inning including an incredible WRC+ of 256 and .559 wOBA. That average now sits at .490 as of Tuesday over 55 plate appearances. He is slashing .490/.527/.765 with a 1.292 OPS.

Acuna has 25 hits including eight doubles, two homers, and four RBI. He's also scored seventeen runs while stealing seven bases in the first inning. His OPS+ sits at an outstanding 166 and also carries a .500 BAbip.

As Sarah Langs, a.k.a. the Queen of stats, mentioned, in the last fifty seasons the last player with an average that high in the first inning was hall-of-famer Larry Walker. Walker had an average of .453 in the first inning back during the 1999 season. Acuna is hitting fifty points higher than that and isn't showing any signs of slowing down any time soon.

It's no mystery that Acuna is on an entire different planet this season but those numbers in the first inning are out of this world. It's a stark contrast to his first inning stat line of .269/.313/.398 with an OPS of .711 over 115 plate appearances. Obviously, the caveat being he was coming back from a knee injury so lower numbers were likely.

Still, it is impressive to see just how good he has been in the first plate appearance of games. Even in his career, this has been a strong suit for the Braves star outfielder. His career line in the first inning sits at .279/.342/.531 with a .873 OPS that spans 535 plate appearances.

That includes 136 hits with 30 doubles, 29 homers, 35 RBI, 37 stolen bases, 38 walks, and 125 strikeouts. He also carries a .320 BAbip in his career but an OPS+ of 93 which is just slightly below average in that category.

Those are pretty great numbers and show just how comfortable Ronald is when batting in the first inning. There's just something about getting things started that clearly clicks for Acuna and motivates him to perform early on.

There is a slight drop-off when you look into how he's performing in every other inning, but even that is still pretty impressive but pales in comparison to the eye-popping numbers in the first inning. Ronald is batting .283/.382/.509 with a 138 WRC+ and wOBA of .381 which, again, is pretty drastic from the first inning numbers.

Despite the perceived drop-off in production, Acuna still finds himself in the top five best offensive players in all of baseball. He is just behind Freddie Freeman, Elias Diaz, Bo Bichette, and Luis Arraez. It feels like that's enough to show how valuable he is to not only Atlanta but also Major League Baseball. Ronald Acuna Jr. is very, very good at playing baseball and he wastes no time to show that off.