Atlanta Braves superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. is on his way to an MVP this year. I don't think Mookie Betts stands a chance. However, one of the most polarizing topics is whether or not Acuna is good at defense.
Table of Contents
- Acuna Defense: How Outs Above Average (OAA) is Calculated
- Why is Acuna in the Bottom 5% in Outs Above Average!?
- Ronald Acuna Jr. Defense - Video Evidence
- Exhibit A - Acuna Can't Make the Play on a High Fly with 99% Catch Probability
- Exhibit B - Acuna Pulls up on Flyball with 99% Catch Probability
- Exhibit C - Acuna Gives Jason Heyward a Hit by Pulling up on Flyball with 95% Catch Probability.
- 3 Reasons Acuna Doesn't Have Range
- Does This Mean Acuna is a BAD Defender?
Overall, he is around league average in terms of defensive runs saved compared to right fielders. He makes great plays at the wall and his cannon of a right arm holds runners at bay. Should they run, they will pay.
So, why do some say he's not good at defense?
Because he lacks range. I know, it's a weird thing to say for a guy who leads the league in stolen bases. Speed doesn't always equate to range in the outfield. Yes, you need speed but you also have to read the ball well and take excellent routes. That is how Major League Baseball players maximize their range in the outfield. Ronald Acuna Jr. is bad at that.
Now, I have written about Acuna's defense in the past. I wrote a piece called Is Ronald Acuna Jr. Bad At Defense? Does it Matter? Think of this as an updated companion piece. My sole inspiration for writing the first one was to learn about why metrics like OAA looked so unfavorably upon Ronnie.
Acuna pulled up on a flyball in Sunday's loss to the Dodgers and it inspired me to check in on his defensive metrics. There is a link to the video of him whiffing on a routine flyball from Jason Heyward later in the article.
So, here is an update on Acuna's Outs Above Average (OAA) and examples (with links to videos) of Acuna missing on high probability catches.