Ronald Acuña Jr. has been one of the better all-around players in baseball for years. He now has a case as the best.
There’s no debating it in the National League, as the Atlanta Braves’ superstar outfielder won the 2023 NL MVP award Thursday while earning all 30 first-place votes.
Acuña had a memorable campaign at the plate and on the basepaths. The 25-year-old slashed .337/.416/.546, leading the majors in on-base percentage, hits (217) and runs (149) while leading the NL in OPS (1.012) and OPS+ (168). He added a career-high 41 homers and 106 RBIs.
Moreover, Acuña led all of baseball in stolen bases with 73 in his first full season back from the torn ACL he suffered in 2021. He became a member of the 40/40 club and created the 40/70 club in the process, proving to play an integral role in the Braves’ dominant 104-win season.
Acuña’s strong play all over the diamond made him the favorite to win MVP for much of the season. His odds to win the award briefly dropped below those of superstar Mookie Betts toward the end of August. But Acuña had a dominant showing in a four-game series at Betts’ home stadium on Labor Day weekend, hitting .353 with three homers, six RBIs and two stolen bases to help the Braves win three games of the four-game set.
Acuña never looked back following that surge, as he slashed .340/.403/.708 with 11 homers, 23 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in the final month of the season.
With the win, Acuña is the eighth player in Braves history to win MVP. He also became the second Braves player to win MVP in the past four seasons (Freddie Freeman won it in 2020).
Acuña beat out finalists and Dodgers teammates Betts and Freeman for the award.
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