While that may not mean Most Valuable Player this year, Ronald Acuna Jr. continues to cement his claim as the Most Valuable Phenom in the game!
If the mantle of best Junior is up for grabs between Vlad, Tatis, and Acuna, the first two sure have a high standard to beat!
Both at the plate and in the field, Acuna Jr. once again made arguably the biggest plays of the game, hitting his 34th home run while also getting his second outfield assist in as many days to keep the Braves ahead by four late in the game. Acuna Jr. certainly has 40 home runs in sight, and the 40-40 mark is becoming a more reasonable target by the day.
Ronald Acuna Jr., who turns 22 years old in December, hit his 60th career home run tonight. Only five other players in @MLB history hit 60+ home runs before turning 22: Mel Ott (86), Tony Conigliaro (84), Eddie Mathews (72), Frank Robinson (60), and Ken Griffey Jr. (60). #Braves— Elias Sports Bureau (@EliasSports) August 14, 2019
The discussion of Acuna Jr.’s production is not just limited to the present, as he truly is having one of the best starts to a career in baseball history. People may have varying opinions of where he ranks among the game’s best. However, no one can deny he is in the Top 5 discussion and legitimately has entered the NL MVP discussion.
Beyond Acuna Jr., Max Fried also continued his outstanding August production. While not as dominant as he was against Minnesota, Fried was both efficient and effective on a night the Braves needed a starter to deliver. With a 7-1 ground ball to fly ball ratio, Fried continued to limit the potential positive outcomes for the opposition even when they made contact. Fried is pitching at the level that he was to start the season, and it could not have come at a better time.
Another encouraging take away from tonight was the job of Brian Snitker. Matt Joyce got the start, and delivered a a huge RBI hit. The utilization of Jerry Blevins and Anthony Swarzak was critical in limiting damage as the Mets tried to come back in the eighth inning. The decision to go with Duvall and defense with the lead earlier than most might expect was very astute. I do feel Snitker does make decisions that are worth criticism at times, but he is a big reason the Braves are in the position they are in. Tonight, he managed in a way that added value. It is nights like tonight that give you confidence he can hold his own in the playoffs.
While it is just one win, it is a big one. The Braves beat one of the hottest pitchers in the NL, and threw a bit of cold water on the scorching Mets. While the next two match-ups do not get any easier, the Braves know they can get the job done. Despite Shane Greene’s continued struggles, even the bullpen did its job tonight. Hopefully, the momentum can continue as the week progresses.