Signs Ronald Acuña Jr.'s power will return in spectacular fashion for the Braves

Atlanta Braves star right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. is playing through one of the most powerless months of his career. Here's why we think he's poised to bust out in a big way.

Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners
Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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After one month into the Atlanta Braves 2024 season, fans are asking "What happened to Ronald Acuña Jr.'s power?" Acuna is still getting on base. His .368 on-base percentage and his 13.2% walk rate are A-OKAY. He's getting on base, stealing bases (3rd in MLB), and scoring runs (T-1st in MLB). The glaring issue is his lack of power.

Disclaimer: All stats are current as of 05/03/2024

Is this the worst power outage of Ronald Acuña Jr.'s career?

Through the first 29 games, Acuña is slugging just .322. There aren't many sample sizes in Acuña's history that dip as low as what we have seen this season. He has just six extra-base hits (five doubles and one homer) in 115 at-bats.

In July of 2022, Acuña slugged .281. But back then, he was recovering from his ACL surgery and played in limited action. His power was down for the season with a .413 SLG in 119 games. In 2021, before his torn ACL, he slugged .596. He followed 2022's dip with an MVP 2023 season in which he slugged .595 again.

He slugged .388 in his first full month in the big leagues back in May of 2018.

In last season's MVP campaign, he never had a month with a slugging percentage below .559.

We've probably all heard the analysis by now that he isn't hitting fastballs well, he's striking out a ton compared to last year. Today, we want to take a look at some of the silver linings to Acuña's... I hesitate to call it a slow start. Acuña is leading the league in runs scored, is third in SBs, and is tied for 30th in OBP. So not a slow start, just a powerless start.

On the next page, we'll take a look at why we think Acuña is due to bust out the power stick.

Signs Acuña's power numbers are on the way

Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners
Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Over his career, Acuña has a 43.3% groundball rate and a 14.8% barrel rate. This season, his groundball rate is at 53.2% and his barrel rate is just 7.8%. He has never finished a season with a barrel rate below 12.8% (power-sapped 2022). Unless Acuna has an injury we don't know about, I see a huge correction coming for both of these numbers.

So, he's not quite barreling balls up. He's hitting more grounders than ever. He's slugging .250 on fastballs this season after he smashed them for a .575 SLG in 2023.

Acuña is hitting the ball hard

Through April 15th, Acuña had just one barreled ball. He had three in the next week and has had five barrels since then. Despite just one barreled ball in the first half of April, he has corrected to the 56th percentile in barrel percentage on the season.

Acuña still has the Braves' fourth-highest max exit velocity this season. He is sandwiched right between Austin Riley and Matt Olson. Acuña's maximum exit velocity of 113.2 mph is in the 91st percentile in all of baseball.

Since April 15th, Ronald Acuña Jr. is fourth on the team in hard-hit percentage at 48.6% behind Matt Olson, Travis d'Arnaud, and Marcell Ozuna. We talked about his ultra-low barrel percentage earlier, stuck in the mud at 7.8% on the year. Since April 16th, it's back to a more normal rate at 14.3%.

Continue to the next page for more signs Acuña's power is coming to life.

Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners
Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Ronald Acuña Jr. is still a stud without the homers

Acuña is very obviously slumping compared to what we are used to seeing. As long as he isn't dealing with an injury, there is no reason to believe he won't bust out of this. In the meantime, what a luxury to have a "slumping" star player who still leads the league in runs scored and is among the league leaders in stolen bases.

His groundball rate has also started to fall since mid-way through April. His 48.6% GB rate is still higher than normal but it's trending in the right direction.

This has been one of the most powerless months of his career, but it's bound to happen. Remember, I mentioned he slugged .388 in his first full month in 2018? He finished that season with a .552 slugging percentage.

Acuña will bounce back, and it will most likely be in spectacular fashion. He's a superstar and I think he will remind us very soon why he is one of the league's best bats.

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