Braves superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. claims his first NL MVP award

Braves superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. claims his first NL MVP award

MVP award

Atlanta Braves

Braves superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. claims his first NL MVP award

Ronald Acuña Jr. on Thursday was rewarded for his groundbreaking 2023 season — he picked up the first National League MVP award of his still-young career.

Acuña beat out the Los Angeles Dodgers tandem of Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman in a unanimous vote to pick up MVP honors. He led the Atlanta Braves to a 104-win regular season on the strength of a ridiculous campaign at the plate — one that reconceptualized what can be possible for a major league hitter to achieve in one season.

Breaking new ground for hitters

Acuña hit a career-high .337 in 2023, and he led MLB in hits (217) and runs scored (149) while batting at the top of the Braves‘ explosive lineup. Acuña tied his career with 41 home runs thanks to a late-season power surge, and he led MLB in one other category — stolen bases, with 73.

In doing so, Acuña became the first player in baseball history to hit 40 home runs and steal 70 bags in one year, obliterating the previous standard of 40 homers and 40 steals (the so-called “40-40 Club“). The right fielder was named an NL All-Star for the fourth time and won his third Silver Slugger award in five seasons.

At only 25 years old, Acuña is in a position where he could rack up multiple MVP awards when it’s all said and done.

Even though the Braves didn’t get past the Division Series this season, there is little to suggest Atlanta won’t run out another strong team in 2024 — in fact, oddsmakers have them listed as the favorites to win the World Series next year. The Braves have many of their top players signed on to long-term deals at a team-friendly salary, including Acuña — who is signed through 2026 with team options for 2027 and 2028.

As long as he stays healthy, Acuña should continue to electrify baseball and could open next season as the favorite to repeat as MVP — something that has not happened in the NL since 2009.

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