Fresh off a history-making season that earned him National League MVP honors, Ronald Acuna Jr. could just take it easy for a bit. Instead, the Atlanta Braves star is absolutely raking in the Venezuelan winter league.
Through 10 games, he has a 439/.558/.878 (1.436 OPS) slash line with four home runs, 11 RBIs, four doubles and one triple, per David O'Brien of The Athletic. By the look of those outstanding numbers, Acuna is clearly driven as ever to remain sharp after becoming the first player to hit 40 home runs and steal 70 bases in a single season.
Ronald Acuna Jr. not slowing down in MLB offseason
Now, there are two other type of reactions these statistics are sure to evoke amongst some people. The first one is a classic- “too bad he didn't do that in the playoffs.” Like most of the Braves' offense, the 25-year-old was stifled by the Philadelphia Phillies' pitching staff in the NLDS and was just 2-for-14 at the plate with two walks. The disappointment fans feel about being upset by their detested divisional rival two years in a row will not be easy to shake.
The second retort to Acuna's winter league prowess is devoid of any sarcasm and comes from a place of genuine concern. “Why is he even playing?” Injuries can happen anywhere. Yoenis Cespedes got hurt trying to flee a boar near his ranch, Chris Sale fractured his wrist after falling off his bicycle and multiple guys have been briefly sidelined after sleeping the wrong way. Despite those peculiar instances, however, there is a greater risk of injury occurring on the field.
Cautious fans would prefer if Ronald Acuna Jr. did not over exert himself in the MLB offseason. He was hit by a pitch in his wrist earlier in the week, which could obviously be a major setback for a hitter if it results in surgery. Fortunately, the four-time All-Star appears to be fine, so there is no need to fret.
But the point remains the same. A healthy Acuna is essential if the Braves are going to avenge this past disheartening postseason in 2024. In the meantime, though, it will be easier for everyone to just appreciate the greatness of this franchise cornerstone as he continues to tear the cover off the ball in Venezuela.