Bill: I’d like to talk about one of the best things the Atlanta Braves have going for them right now, and that is they have a star in Ronald Acuña, Jr. A year ago this time we were wondering when Ronald Acuña, Jr. would be ready to go for the Big Leagues, and of course he came up in late April, early May, and took off from there and was the National League Rookie of the Year.
I tell you, even after seeing him for a couple of days, it is obvious that the Braves have a star, and I’m talking about not only a star for their team, but one of the best players in Major League Baseball. We’re talking about Trout, Harper, Mookie Betts … Those type of players, and I think Acuña, by the time this season is over with, is going to be in that conversation as far a being a very good player, and one of the best in this sport.
He does everything so effortlessly. He is so easy with his swing. He had a ball to straightaway center field the other day for a home run that got out just like that. I mean, it was amazing how quick that ball got out. He made a throw from home plate on Sunday when I got here that stopped a runner in his tracks from trying to even think about running from third to home, and he threw it on the fly from center field. So it’s just an elite talent, and having for a full year for the Braves is going to be something that’s going to really make a difference.
Of course, we’re still wondering now where he’s going to be in that lineup, and Brian Snitker has not confirmed one way or the other what he’s going to do with that lineup. Will he hit him first again where he did so well last year? Or will he move him down to the cleanup role? People who say hit him first are saying that you don’t want to give up maybe 50 at bats over the course of the whole season if he’s not batting first in lineup. And I understand that, but my point is this is a run producer. This is a power hitter.
This is someone that needs to drive in runs, and you want that kind of player hitting after the number eight hitter, which is Dansby Swanson who’s hit .230 something in the last two years, and then the pitcher, and the Braves don’t have any pitchers who can hit. I’d rather have Ronald Acuña up when he has maybe Josh Donaldson and Freddie Freeman on base, because those are the two players, Josh Donaldson and Freddie Freeman, who have the best on-base percentage of anyone in the Braves batting order. So wouldn’t we want Acuña to come up after those two. Hopefully that they’ve gotten on base, and to score more than one run, especially if Acuña hits a home run. So we’ll see where Acuña goes in that lineup.
But I’m telling you, one of the best things about this season is we’re going to be able to see Ronald Acuña from day one, and the impact he’ll make on this team being here the entire 162 game schedule is going to be very important for this team. Last year they had Preston Tucker out there to start the season. It was not a good situation early on in left field, but then when Acuña came up, obviously, things changed. But Acuña is a star player.
I tell you, I said last year during the summer when he started to show how good he was that it’s a treat every time he comes up to the plate. It’s almost like an event, and I think we’re going to see that for a full six months, and that could help the Braves possibly get back to the playoffs and maybe win the Series this time around.