Can anyone beat Acuna for the NL MVP? Does anyone believe that someone other than Ronald Acuna Jr. will be the 2020 NL MVP? Here is a closer look.
Ronald Acuna Jr was nothing more than a majorly touted prospect before spring training 2018. Bursting onto the scene, he solidified his role as a young outfielder flaunting his speed, power and defense. In 111 games he belted 26 home runs driving in 64 runs posting a .293 average. This was good enough to win him the NL Rookie of the Year award. Every sports fan in America was anxious to see what he could do next.
Acuna did not disappoint. Ok, maybe he did disappoint some Mets and Phillies fans as he compiled 49 hits, 10 home runs, driving in 27, while hitting above .330 in 2019 against the East foes. Against the rest of the league, all he did was keep up with the likes of AL MVP Mike Trout and NL MVP Cody Bellinger. Having your name mentioned even in the same conversation as these All-Star, generational type players is amazing, to say the least.
To keep up with the numbers the MVPs put up in 2019 is just unreal for a 22-year-old kid. Just three stolen bases shy of a 40-40 season, Ronald was lights out for the Braves. He found a nice home hitting leadoff for Brian Snitker and never looked back. Acuna touched the plate 228 times between the runs he drove in himself and being on base for Josh Donaldson and Freddie Freeman to drive in. That’s more than Trout and only eight behind Bellinger. Acuna matches their power and their contributions. But there is more; there’s the speed. Acuna had three times as many stolen bases as Trout and more than double that of Bellinger. Power can be taught, but speed can’t.
Fastballs. Acuna hits fastballs. On top of that, he makes pitchers throw him fastballs. Plate discipline is one of the strongest points of his game. He will lay off the garbage until he forces a hitter’s pitch. Then he hits it. Well over half his at bats last year came with him ahead in the count. Great hitters put themselves in a position to hit. Bellinger and Trout don’t hit from behind in the count either. Yet another comparison to the MVP caliber players Acuna is in league with.
Speed. Speed changes the game. Acuna turns singles into doubles. Doubles into triples. He also creates stolen bases. Speed forces mistakes. This is a part of the game an MVP hasn’t had in quite some time. Yes, in the home run era baseball is in, speed isn’t celebrated quite like the Ricky Henderson days but it sets Ronald apart from his peers.
So the question still stands. Can anyone beat Ronald Acuna Jr for the NL MVP in 2020? Will he post a 40-40 season? What about a 50-50 season? A healthy Acuna has the ability to, and will likely achieve, one of the greatest offensive seasons the city of Atlanta has ever seen. Can this still-young talent make baseball and Braves fans say, “Chipper who?” As of now, the answer is no. No-one can beat Ronald Acuna Jr. for NL MVP.