Ronald Acuna Jr. Leads Atlanta Braves to Historic Homer-Heavy Win Against Pittsburgh Pirates 

It’s one for the history books for Ronald Acuna Jr. and his Atlanta Braves teammates…

The 23-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball outfielder hit a grand slam in the second inning off Tyler Anderson, pinch hitter Ehire Adrianza added another slam in the eighth against position player Wilmer Difo and the Braves homered seven times in a 20-1 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Austin Riley homered twice for his first multi-homer game, and Ozzie AlbiesMarcell Ozuna and Dansby Swanson also went deep for the Braves, who became the first team in major league history to have seven or more homers in a game that included two slams, according to STATS.

This was the sixth seven-homer game in Braves history, and the 20 runs were the most a team has scored in a game this season.

“It was awesome,” Riley said. “Just seemed like everything clicked offensively. I think it really goes to show what this team is capable of doing. I know things might not seem like they’re clicking right now on a daily basis, but it’s there, and it’s a matter of time.”

Acuna had five RBIs and gave Atlanta a 5-0 lead with his 14th homer, which tied him with the Los Angeles Angels‘ Shohei Ohtani for the major league lead. Acuna’s first slam came against Pittsburgh’s Alex McRae on June 10, 2019.

Difo, a 29-year-old middle infielder in his seventh major league season, relieved to start the bottom of the eighth with the Pirates trailing 12-0.

Pitching to catcher Jacob Stallings, Difo threw at up to 88 mph, and Adrianza homered on a first-pitch 80 mph offering. Difo allowed three walks and six hits in his one inning, giving up run-scoring singles to Kevan Smith and Guillermo Heredia, Ozuna’s RBI double and Riley’s sacrifice fly. Difo left with a 72.00 career ERA.

“I think Stallings summed it up best,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said with a laugh. “Difo didn’t have his best stuff tonight, and they capitalized on it.”

Albies and Riley homered back-to-back in the fifth for a 9-0 lead, and Riley and Swanson hit consecutive homers in the seventh against Chasen Shreve.

“We’ve been struggling to score runs and get hits, so that was good to see,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “There were some good at-bats, going the other way, it was a good night. And the way Ian backed up his last start with how he threw tonight was really good.”

Tyler Anderson (3-4) gave up nine runs, 10 hits — seven for extra bases — and two walks in five innings. The Pirates had won five of his previous six starts.

Pittsburgh tied a 20-1 loss to Brooklyn on August 1, 1890, and a 25-6 loss to Brooklyn on May 20, 1896, for its third-largest margin of defeat, behind a 27-5 loss at Cincinnati on September 12, 1883, and a 20-0 loss to Milwaukee on April 22, 2010.

Shelton said it will be easy to move on from such a lopsided loss.

“It’s actually easier to move on from a game like this because the games that are 4-1, 4-3, there’s situations you look back and think this couldn’t have been different,” he said. “Tonight we just got beat. You just move on from it and come back tomorrow.”

Ronald Acuna Jr. Earns Second Career Silver Slugger Award

There’s certainly a silver lining for Ronald Acuna Jr. 

The 22-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player is among four Atlanta Braves players to earn Silver Slugger Awards, which were unveiled Thursday by Major League Baseball in honor of the best offensive players at every position in each league.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Winning from the Braves were Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, who each won the award for the second time, and first-time winner Travis d’Arnaud.

The Chicago White Sox led the American League with three Silver Sluggers: shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jimenez and first baseman Jose Abreu, who won the award for the third time after batting .317 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.

It was the first honor for both Anderson and Jimenez.

Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout received his eighth Silver Slugger Award after batting .281 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs this season.

2020 Silver Slugger Winners

POS. AL NL
C Salvador Perez, Royals Travis d’Arnaud, Braves
1B Jose Abreu, White Sox Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B DJ LeMahieu, Yankees Donovan Solano, Giants
SS Tim Anderson, White Sox Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
3B Jose Ramírez, Indians Manny Machado, Padres
OF Mike Trout, Angels Juan Soto, Nationals
OF Eloy Jimenez, White Sox Mookie Betts, Dodgers
OF Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
DH Nelson Cruz, Twins Marcell Ozuna, Braves

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez rounded out the American League winners.

World Series champion and Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, San Francisco Giants second baseman Donovan Solano and San Diego Padres teammates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado completed the National League list.

Selections are based on a combination of offensive stats, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, in addition to the managers’ and coaches’ views of a player’s overall offensive value.

Yasiel Puig to Sign with the Atlanta Braves

It’s a brave new world for Yasiel Puig

The 29-year-old Cuban professional baseball player and free agent is signing with the Atlanta Braves, according to a report by MLB.com.

Yasiel Puig

The agreement comes after Braves outfielder Nick Markakis opted out of the 2020 season earlier this month.

An MLB All-Star in 2014, Puig batted .267 in 149 games last season with the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians

He hit .297 with Cleveland after being acquired on July 30 and gave the Indians an infusion of power and energy, helping their ultimately fruitless surge to catch the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central title.

The boisterous right fielder was part of a wild fight between the Reds and Pirates mere hours before he was dealt to Cleveland as part of a three-team trade that sent right-hander Trevor Bauer from Cleveland to Cincinnati. 

Puig was suspended three games for his aggressive actions on what turned out to be his last day with the Reds.

Puig, who joined the Reds in a December 2018 trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, has a career batting average of .277. Perhaps his best overall offensive season was in 2017, when he batted .263 with a career-high 28 home runs and 74 RBIs.

The NL East champion Braves were facing a depth problem in their outfield even after they signed Marcell Ozuna to a one-year, $18 million deal in the offseason.

Markakis opted out of the season before summer camp. Ozuna or Adam Duvall could be needed as the designated hitter in the shortened 60-game season.

The team’s shortage of outfielders was highlighted when rookie Cristian Pache jammed his right ankle in Monday night’s intrasquad game and was not available Tuesday.

“We’re thin a little bit,” manager Brian Snitker said Tuesday. “We started this thing feeling really good about the depth, and we’ve used all of it already, as I think a lot of teams have. We’re stretched a little bit.”

If Ozuna is the primary designated hitter, Puig could join Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ender Inciarte in a starting outfield.

Puig, who has a .285 career average against right-handers, will be expected to replace Markakis’ production.

Puig, who defected from Cuba in 2012, was popular with Dodgers fans during his six years in L.A. for his colorful personality, home run trots and ability to throw runners out from right field. He made headlines away from the field when his Los Angeles home was burglarized multiple times.

At the ballpark, he was benched at times, and the team considered trading him long before it did because of his perceived lack of hustle or interest in following orders.

Ronald Acuña Jr. Receives First-Ever Silver Slugger Award

It’s a silverfirst for Ronald Acuña Jr.

The 21-year-old Venezuelan Major League Baseball baseball outfielder for the Atlanta Braves has received his first Silver Slugger Award, awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers. 

Ronald Acuna Jr.

For the year, Acuña hit .280/.365/.883, with 127 runs (leading the National League), 41 home runs, and 37 stolen bases (leading the league). He missed the 40–40 club by three stolen bases.

Acuña’s Braves teammates Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies are among the first-time winners on the National League side, along with Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger.

First-timers for the American League are Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos SantanaNew York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieuHouston Astros infielder Alex Bregman and Minnesota Twins catcher Mitch Garver.

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout was awarded his seventh Silver Slugger Award after batting .291 with 45 home runs and 104 RBIs this season.

World Series champion and Washington Nationals slugger Anthony Rendon, a two-time winner, Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. RealmutoColorado Rockies shortstop Trevor StoryMilwaukee Brewers star Christian Yelich and former Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke, who was dealt by the D-backs to the Astros at the trade deadline, completed the National League list.

Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, a three-time winner, Astros outfielder George Springer and Boston Red Sox teammates Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts rounded out the American League winners.

Selections are based on a combination of offensive stats, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in addition to the managers’ and coaches’ views of a player’s overall offensive value.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Hits Historic Homer to Earn a Place in MLB History

Ronald Acuna Jr. is making his MLB mark…

The 21-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball outfielder, who plays for the Atlanta Braves, has become only the third player in baseball history to hit 40 homers in a season at 21 years old or younger.

Ronald Acuna Jr.

Acuna’s historic homer came with a flourish in the third inning of Atlanta’s 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday. He launched a 432-foot drive into the second deck at SunTrust Park, standing at home plate to admire his shot off Aaron Nola before tossing the bat away and slowly rounding the bases.

Acuna was pumped to join a very exclusive club, but even more thrilled about the Braves clinching at least a tie for first place in the National League East.

“That’s the most exciting thing up to this point,” Acuna said through a translator. “That’s what we’re all looking for. I think for all of us, it’s just come out with that same energy, that same enthusiasm, get that win and hopefully celebrate. That’s something we’re all looking forward to.”

Mel Ott, who was 20 when he hit 42 homers for the New York Giantsin 1940, was the only player younger than Acuna to post a 40-homer season. Eddie Mathewsalso was 21 but about two months older than Acuna when he hit 47 homers for the Milwaukee Bravesin 1953.

Ott and Mathews are both members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“It feels incredible,” said Acuna, who was born December 18, 1997. “To be compared to superstars and Hall of Famers like that, especially at such a young age, wow.”

Acuna had gone five games since hitting his 39th homer.

“He might relax now and really go off,” manager Brian Snitkersaid. “That’s an unbelievable accomplishment at this stage of his career.”

Acuna is still three stolen bases shy of another milestone. He has 37 steals in his quest to become just the fifth 40-40 player in baseball history, following Jose Canseco(1988), Barry Bonds(1996), Alex Rodriguez(1998) and Alfonso Soriano(2006).

Javier Baez to Bat Second for National League in the MLB All-Star Game

It’s batter up for Javier Baez

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball player and shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, nicknamed “El Mago,” is slated to bat second for the National League in Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game.

Javier Baez

Baez, in his second straight All-Star Game, will follow lead-off hitter and Milwaukee Brewers slugger Christian Yelich, who bowed out of the Home Run Derbywith a back issue. Yelich leads the majors with 31 home runs.

He’ll befollowed by Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie FreemanLos Angeles Dodgersright fielder Cody BellingerColorado Rockiesthird baseman Nolan ArenadoPittsburgh Pirates‘ Josh Bell at designated hitter, Cubs catcher Willson ContrerasArizona Diamondbackssecond baseman Ketel Marte and Atlanta center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr.

The National League has the youngest starting lineup in All-Star Gamehistory, with an average age of 25.75. The previous record was 26.4 by the 2017 ALstarters.

Houston Astros‘ George Springer leads off and plays right field for the American League and is followed in the order by New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieuLos Angeles Angels center fielder Mike TroutCleveland Indians’ first baseman Carlos SantanaBoston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez, Houston third baseman Alex Bregman, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, Astros left fielder Michael Brantley and Minnesota Twins’ shortstop Jorge Polanco.

Cora joked about LeMahieu’s success against the Red Sox in his first season after leaving the Rockies for New York — especially when Boston played the Yankees in London last month.

“People in the offseason thought that he wasn’t going to be able to hit outside of Colorado. Well, he hits outside of Colorado and in Europe, too,” Cora said.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Named MLB’s National League Rookie of the Year

Ronald Acuna Jr. has kicked off his Major League Baseball with a bang, and now he’s got the title to prove it.

The 27-year-old Venezuelan Atlanta Braves outfielder has been named the named National League Rookie of the Year.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Acuna received 27 first-place votes and three seconds for a total of 144 points. Fellow international phenom Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals got two firsts and 89 points, and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler was next with one first and 28 points.

“First of all, I would like to give thanks to God, my family, my parents and to all my teammates who’ve always supported me from the first day that I got the call to the big leagues,” Acuna said in a statement. “This award represents all our hard work as a team this season.”

A Venezuela native, Acuna signed with the Braves as an international free agent in 2014. After hitting .325 with 21 home runs across three different minor league levels in 2017, he entered the 2018 season ranked as the top prospect in baseball by ESPN‘s Keith Law.

Acuna is the eighth Braves player to win Rookie of the Year and first since Craig Kimbrel in 2011. He’s the first Braves position player to win the award since Rafael Furcal in 2000.

Despite hitting .432 with four home runs in 16 spring training games, Acuna was optioned to Triple-A to start the season, a move that was criticized by those who believed the Braves demoted the young star for contractual reasons. Acuna was called up April 25 and made his big league debut against the Cincinnati Reds later that day, going 1-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts. At the time of his promotion, Acuna became the youngest player in the majors, a title he would soon cede to Soto.

After the All-Star break, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker moved Acuna into the leadoff spot, where the rookie outfielder was a catalyst for a surprising Braves team that won the National League East. Batting exclusively at the top of the order, Acuna thrived, hitting .322 with 19 home runs in 68 games during the second half of the season; his eight leadoff home runs were the second-most by a rookie in a season in MLB history.

Acuna’s 1.028 OPS after the All-Star break ranked third in the National League behind the Milwaukee Brewers‘ Christian Yelich and Los Angeles’ Justin Turner.

In August, Acuna became the youngest player ever to homer in five consecutive games, and was named NL Rookie of the Month. Soto, his main competition for Rookie of the Year, won the monthly award in June, July and September.

Although the speedy Acuna is widely considered a better defender than Soto and a more complete player, the two international phenoms put up nearly identical offensive numbers in their debut seasons, creating one of the tightest Rookie of the Year races in recent memory.

In 111 games, Acuna hit .293 with 26 home runs and 64 RBIs, while posting a .917 OPS. In 116 games, Soto batted .292 with 22 homers and 70 RBIs, with a .923 OPS. According to FanGraphs, both players had an identical 3.7 wins above replacement.

Buehler, a 23-year-old right-hander, was 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA in 23 starts and one relief appearance.