If you know baseball, you probably know that the traditional leadoff hitter’s job is to see a lot of pitches, hit the ball on the ground, and use their speed to get on base. If you know baseball, there’s also a good chance that you know the name Ronald Acuna Jr, the leadoff hitter for the Atlanta Braves, who has taken the league by storm by putting up video game-like numbers this season. What people may or may not be recognizing is the large impact he’s having on the way baseball is played, which has already seen drastic changes over the past few years. This new generation of baseball, which is full of young players who enjoy playing with passion, flare, and outright confidence, is truly evolving the game of baseball, and Ronald Acuna Jr. is at the forefront.
Acuna is leading the MLB in home runs at the time of this article being published, with 15. He already has more home runs and fewer strikeouts than he did during the shortened 2020 season, and he’s accomplished these stats in fewer at-bats than he had in 2020, as well. While his batting average this year does not tell the full story, his low strikeout numbers show that while he may not get on base as often as other hitters in the league, he still does his job as a leadoff hitter, which is putting the ball in play and making the defense work. Additionally, a player’s batting average at this early point in the season means much less than their batting average towards the end of the season, because numbers are inflated due to a lower number of at-bats.
With this being said, Acuna is clearly on track to have a great 2021 season, but in the bigger picture, he may be the greatest lead-off hitter ever to play the game at the end of his career. Even with the abundance of young talent in the league today, Ronald Acuna Jr. stands out in the crowd.
*All stats found on MLB.com