“40-40? That’s a much rarer record.”
Ronald Acuna Jr. (26, Atlanta Braves) is on a roll. Two months into the season, he’s the National League’s No. 1 MVP. In 52 games this season, he’s 205-for-66 with a .322 batting average, 11 home runs, 27 doubles, 46 RBI, 22 stolen bases, a .407 on-base percentage and a .556 slugging percentage.
He ranks first in the National League in runs scored, first in stolen bases, fourth in hits, fifth in slugging percentage, sixth in on-base percentage, ninth in home runs, and 24th in RBI. He leads the league in every major category except home runs and RBIs. He topped the MLB.com experts’ mock MVP voting for April and is a favorite for May.
Korean fans may recognize him from his battle with Bae Ji-hwan (Pittsburgh Pirates, 15 stolen bases) for the stolen base title. But in reality, Akuna has a monopoly on stolen bases in the National League. Instead, most of the attention in the United States is on his stolen base pace. 메이저놀이터
Durability has been an issue for Acuna since his debut in 2018, but after undergoing anterior cruciate ligament surgery in 2021 and returning in 2022, his health is no longer an issue. Assuming he plays in all 52 of Atlanta’s games this year and all 110 of their remaining games, he’ll contribute 46.5 stolen bases, or a 78-79 steal pace.
It’s clear that Major League Baseball has changed this year, with the implementation of pitch clocks, limiting balls in play, banning excessive shifts, and increasing base sizes, making the game more conducive to stealing. Still, it’s a season where the value of a healthy aqua is scary.
MLB.com reported on Aug. 28 that Acuna is on pace for a 35-homer, 70-steal season this year, which would put him on pace to rewrite major league history. “40-40 isn’t just in Akuna’s sights,” they wrote. Only Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Jose Canseco, and Alfonso Soriano have done 40-40.
Furthermore, MLB.com points out that Acuna is capable of 30 homers and 40 RBIs, 20 homers and 50 RBIs, and 20 homers and 60 RBIs this season. 30-40 hasn’t been accomplished since Mike Trout (LA Angels) did it in 2012, while 20-50 was last done by Henry Ramirez and Eric Banes in 2007. 20-60 was last achieved by Rickey Henderson in 1990. Henderson, who holds the major league record for career steals (1406), averaged 19 homers and 67 steals per year.
MLB.com’s favorite is 30 homers and 60 steals. It has yet to happen in the majors. Henderson narrowly missed it in 1986 and 1990. Henderson actually hit 28 homers and 87 steals in 1986 and 28 homers and 65 steals in 1990. MLB.com wrote, “No one who has ever hit more than 30 homers has ever stolen more than 52 bases. Acuna could be the first.” The question is whether the 11-homer Acuna can hit 30 homers this year.