Ronald Acuña Jr. has joined the 40-40 club, smashing his 40th home run of the 2023 season. He became just the fifth player in MLB history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a single-season, joining Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Jose Canseco, and Alfonso Soriano.
Acuña is also now the first member of the 40/60 club, as he already has 68 steals to go along with his 40 homers, per Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.
There's no question that Acuña is having a truly special season. However, people may not realize how historic reaching this feat is. Let's take a look at why Acuña reaching the 40-40 club is incredibly legendary.
Ronald Acuña Jr. joins 40-40 club
Acuña has battled injuries over the past few seasons. In fact, he's only played in more than 120 games twice in his career (2019 and 2023). When on the field, he's displayed elite ability though.
In 2019, he showed his 40-40 potential. Acuña finished the campaign with 41 home runs and a league-leading 37 stolen bases, falling just short of reaching the feat. It should be noted that MLB limited pickoffs and increased the size of the bases in 2023, leading to stolen base totals rising around the league.
Still, there isn't anyone else who is all that close to Acuña in stolen bases. His 38 swipes cannot be ignored. It's even more impressive when you factor in his power output at the plate.
So why is it such a legendary feat?
Baseball has been around since the late 1800's. Superstars such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and many others have played this game. Yet, only four players have accomplished this feat in the history of MLB.
Canseco become the first player in the history of the sport to do so in 1988. Again, baseball has been around since the late 1800's, and nobody accomplished this feat until 1988!
Bonds then joined the 40-40 club in 1996. Rodriguez became the third member in 1998, and Soriano was the most recent star to post a 40-40 season, doing so in 2006.
All of those players were superstars, but there is a harsh reality to the situation. Three of them were connected to PEDs. We aren't here to have a “should they be in the Hall-of-Fame discussion,” but rather, it makes what Ronald Acuña Jr. was able to accomplish, and Soriano for that matter, even more impressive since neither player has been linked to PEDs.
What does this mean for Acuña's legacy?
Acuña is only 25 years old. He isn't guaranteed to reach the Hall of Fame yet. He's on a strong trajectory though. Hall-of-Fame or not, Acuña may be having the most special season in MLB history. 2023 will always be remembered as his year, especially if the Braves win the World Series.
If he can stay healthy for the most part as his career continues on, I have no doubts that Acuña will probably become a Hall-of-Famer. This season alone gives him a great argument. The craziest thing about it is the 2023 campaign isn't over yet. Acuña might reach 70 stolen bases while adding more home runs onto his total.
Additionally, he leads the league in runs scored, total hits, OBP, OPS, OPS-plus, and total bases. Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and Matt Olson are all having tremendous seasons as well, but it's going to be almost impossible to not give Ronald Acuña Jr. the 2023 MVP Award.
If there was any doubt before, reaching a feat that only four players in MLB history have accomplished should cement his status as MVP.