Juan Soto Agrees to Record-Setting $31 Million Salary with New York Yankees for 2024 Season

Juan Soto has 31 million reasons to smile… 

The 25-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder and the New York Yankees avoided arbitration with a record-setting, $31 million salary for the 2024 season, topping the list of dozens of arbitration-eligible players who agreed on their compensation ahead of Thursday’s 8:00 pm ET cutoff.

Juan SotoSoto’s salary, reached minutes before the deadline for players and teams to submit their desired figures ahead of a potential arbitration hearing, topped the $30 million Shohei Ohtani obtained last offseason.

Soto, like Ohtani last year, is heading into his final season before free agency.

The Yankees acquired Soto from the San Diego Padres in December as part of a seven-player deal that saw them part ways with four young pitchers, placing one of this generation’s greatest hitters in the same lineup with Aaron Judge. Soto, still only 25 years old, has led the majors in walks each of the last three years but has also accumulated 91 home runs during that stretch, during which he slashed .276/.425/.502. His adjusted OPS of 157 is the fifth-highest all time through a player’s age-24 season, trailing only Ty CobbMike Trout, Mickey Mantle and Jimmie Foxx, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Asked during his introductory media session about the prospect of signing long-term with the Yankees, Soto, represented by Scott Boras, said: “They know where to call and who to talk to. I’m here just to play baseball. It’s not going to be that hard because I have one of the best agents in the league.”

The second-highest figure belonged to New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, another pending free agent, who will be paid $20.5 million in 2024. Milwaukee Brewers starter Corbin Burnes ($15.637 million), Atlanta Braves starter Max Fried ($15 million), Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres ($14.2 million), Cleveland Guardians starter Shane Bieber ($13.125 million), Brewers shortstop Willy Adames ($12.25 million), Houston Astros starter Framber Valdez ($12.1 million) and outfielder Kyle Tucker ($12 million), Baltimore Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander ($11.7 million) and Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker ($10.9 million) and starter Zac Gallen ($10.011 million) also reached eight figures.

One notable exception was Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who’s two seasons away from free agency and projected for a salary in the neighborhood of $20 million this season. Guerrero was among the 22 players who ultimately exchanged figures with his respective team. Guerrero requested $19.9 million; the Blue Jays countered with $18.05 million. If the two sides ultimately go to a hearing — they’re scheduled for some time in late January or early February — an arbitrator will select one of those two numbers.

Texas Rangers outfielder Adolis Garcia, Cincinnati Reds infielder Jonathan India, Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm and the Miami Marlins’ two best hitters, Luis Arraez and Jazz Chisholm, were among the others who did not agree to terms on Thursday. The biggest gap was $1.9 million between Garcia, who filed for $6.9 million, and the Rangers, who countered with $5 million.

Teams and their arbitration-eligible players — those typically with more than three and less than six years of major league service time — can continue to negotiate in the days leading up to their scheduled hearing. But most teams have treated the exchange as a firm deadline in recent years, with some making an exception only for multiyear contracts.

Yankees outfielder Alex Verdugo, Chicago White Sox starter Dylan Cease and Los Angeles Dodgers starter Walker Buehler and his catcher, Will Smith, all agreed to deals in the $8 million range. Tampa Bay Rays starter Shane McClanahan, who attained arbitration status a year early because he was among those closest to three full years of service time by season’s end, agreed to a two-year, $7.2 million contract that also resolved his 2025 salary. Brewers closer Devin Williams also agreed to a one-year, $7.25 million deal with a club option, a source told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

All told, 72 players avoided arbitration on Thursday.

The deadline was originally scheduled for Friday, but MLB and the MLB Players’ Association agreed in early December to move it up a day for the remainder of the collective bargaining agreement, which runs through 2026, so that it does not spill into the weekend. A soft, 1 p.m. ET deadline was imposed for teams to agree to a deal before the exchange of filing numbers, but many deals — including those of Soto, Alonso, Burnes, Torres and several other big names — came in well after that.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Wins MLB’s National League Hank Aaron Award

Ronald Acuna Jr. has picked up another prestigious honor…

The 25-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball outfielder for the Atlanta Braves has won the 2023 Hank Aaron Awards on Saturday, presented by Major League Baseball (MLB) to the most outstanding offensive performer in each league.

Ronald Acuña Jr.,The MLB award is picked by fan balloting combined with votes from a panel of Hall of Famers and former winners, a group that this year included Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Pedro Martínez, Eddie Murray, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, John Smoltz and Robin Yount.

Acuna was a unanimous winner of his first National League MVP after becoming the first big leaguer with 40 homers and 70 stolen bases in a season.

Acuna was second in the NL with a .336 batting average for the Braves and led the major leagues with 149 runs, 217 hits, 386 total bases and 73 stolen bases while hitting 41 home runs with 106 RBI.

Shohei Ohtani, meantime, won the American League’s Hank Aaron Award.

The pair also won Most Valuable Player awards last month in voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Ohtani was the first two-time unanimous MVP.

Every team nominated candidates for the Aaron awards and a group of MLB.com writers picked nine finalists in each league. The awards were introduced in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth‘s career home run record.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Wins National League’s Most Valuable Player Award in Unanimous Fashion

Ronald Acuna Jr. is the unanimous choice…

The 25-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player, an outfielder for the Atlanta Braves, has been named the Most Valuable Player of Major League Baseball’s National League, in unanimous fashion no less.

Ronald Acuña Jr.,In the American League, Shohei Ohtani was the unanimous choice for MVP.

Acuna and Ohtani’s unanimous wins are historic, since it’s an unprecedented occurrence in the 92-year history of the award.

Acuna beat out Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who came in second on all 30 ballots.

A force at the leadoff spot for a fearsome Braves lineup, Acuna combined 41 home runs with an NL-leading 73 stolen bases, easily becoming the first ever member of the 40-70 club.

He also led the NL in on-base percentage (.416), OPS (1.012), hits (217) and runs scored (149). His .337 batting average trailed only Miami Marlins second baseman Luis Arraez (.354) for the major league lead.

Acuna did not attend his scheduled conference call with BBWAA members because he debuted for the Tiburones de La Guaira of the Venezuelan winter league shortly after claiming the award. The game was pushed back an hour to accommodate the announcement.

Acuna won the NL Rookie of the Year Award during his age-20 season in 2018 — Ohtani won the AL version that year — and finished fifth in NL MVP voting during his age-21 season in 2019, clearly establishing himself as one of the most dynamic forces in the sport. But he suffered a torn ACL in the middle of the 2021 season, forcing him to merely watch from the dugout while his Braves teammates won a championship later that fall. The following year, he was admittedly not himself. The explosiveness that helped elevate him to stardom was lacking. His timing in the batter’s box was off.

Acuna spent the ensuing offseason working diligently on his conditioning and trained with Fernando Tatis Sr., father of his good friend Fernando Tatis Jr., on slightly lowering his hands to lessen some of the moving parts in his swing and get his bat through the zone more quickly. Through six months of baseball’s regular season, Acuna’s OPS never fell below .900.

Acuna’s stolen-base total was aided by new rules that introduced a pitch clock, increased the size of bases and limited the number of pitcher disengagements, but he hit 13 more home runs than the next-closest player ever to 70 stolen bases and stole 27 more bases than the next-closest player ever to 40 home runs.

“I don’t know what to say — just super excited, happy,” Acuna, surrounded by family and friends in his native Venezuela, told MLB Network in Spanish. “Hopefully, by the grace of God, I can have an even better year next year than the one I just had.”

Ronald Acuña Jr. Named MLB’s Player of the Year by Major League Baseball Players Association

Ronald Acuña Jr. is this year’s Major League Baseball all-star, according to his peers…

The 25-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball outfielder and Atlanta Braves right fielder has been voted player of the year and the National League‘s outstanding player by fellow major leaguers in the annual Players Choice Awards of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Ronald Acuña Jr.,Los Angeles Angels designated hitter and pitcher Shohei Ohtani was voted the American League‘s outstanding player, the union said Thursday.

Acuña became the first player with 40 homers and 70 stolen bases in a season, hitting .337 with 41 homers, 106 RBIs and 73 stolen bases. No player previously had 40 homers and 50 steals in a season.

Ohtani hit .304 with 44 homers, 95 RBIs and 20 stolen bases and went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 132 innings. His pitching season ended August 23 because of a torn elbow ligament, an injury that will keep him from the mound until 2025. His hitting season ended September 3 due to an oblique strain.

Ohtani is expected to be the top player on the free agent market.

Marcus Semien, the second baseman of the World Series champion Texas Rangers, won his second Marvin Miller man of the year award, given to a player whose leadership inspires others. Semien, who also received the award in 2021, is a member of the union’s eight-man executive subcommittee.

Former outfielder Phil Bradley was awarded the Curt Flood Award for advancement of players’ rights and devotion to the union. Bradley is a union special assistant for international and domestic special events.

The New York Yankees‘ Gerrit Cole was selected as the AL outstanding pitcher and San Diego‘s Blake Snell the NL outstanding pitcher.

Comeback players were Chicago Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger in the NL and Chicago White Sox reliever Liam Hendriks in the AL.

Outstanding rookies were Arizona outfielder Corbin Carroll in the NL and Baltimore infielder Gunnar Henderson in the AL.

Yordan Alvarez Among This Year’s American League MVP Finalists

Yordan Alvarez is still in the running…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball designated hitter and left fielder for the Houston Astros has been named a finalist for this year’s Major League Baseball’s American League MVP honor.

Yordan AlvarezAlvarez, who hit a home run in Game 6 of the World Series to give the Astros the trophy, will face off against Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees) and Shohei Ohtani (RHP/DH, Los Angeles Angels)

From both the American League and National League, 24 players and managers were shortlisted as finalists for four different awards as voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Manny Machado (3B, San Diego Padres) has been named a finalist in the National League MVP race. He’ll face off against Paul Goldschmidt (1B, St. Louis Cardinals) and Nolan Arenado (3B, St. Louis Cardinals).

Sandy Alcantara (RHP, Miami Marlins) and Julio Urías (LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers) are up for the National League Cy Young 2022 Awards alongside Max Fried (LHP, Atlanta Braves).

The American League Rookie of the Year finalists include Julio Rodríguez, (CF, Seattle Mariners), who is competing against

Steven Kwan (LF, Cleveland Guardians) and (Adley Rutschman, C, Baltimore Orioles) for the title.

The winners for Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year will be announced next week, with one category going live each day on the MLB Network beginning at 6:00 pm ET.

Monday, Nov. 14: Jackie Robinson Rookies of the Year
Tuesday, Nov. 15: Managers of the Year
Wednesday, Nov. 16: Cy Young Awards
Thursday, Nov. 17: MVP Awards

Here’s a look at all the candidates from each league:

AL Rookie of the Year 2022 Finalists:
Steven Kwan, LF, Cleveland Guardians
Adley Rutschman, C, Baltimore Orioles
Julio Rodríguez, CF, Seattle Mariners

NL Rookie of the Year 2022 Finalists:
Brendan Donovan, UTIL, St. Louis Cardinals
Michael Harris II, CF, Atlanta Braves
Spencer Strider, RHP, Atlanta Braves

AL Manager of the Year 2022 Finalists:
Terry Francona, Cleveland Guardians
Brandon Hyde, Baltimore Orioles
Scott Servais, Seattle Mariners 

NL Manager of the Year 2022 Finalists:
Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers
Buck Showalter, New York Mets
Brian Snitker, Atlanta Braves

AL Cy Young 2022 Finalists:
Dylan Cease, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Alek Manoah, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Justin Verlander, RHP, Houston Astros 

NL Cy Young 2022 Finalists:
Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Miami Marlins
Max Fried, LHP, Atlanta Braves
Julio Urías, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers 

AL MVP 2022 Finalists:
Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees
Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH, Los Angeles Angels
Yordan Alvarez, DH/LF, Houston Astros

NL MVP 2022 Finalists:
Manny Machado, 3B, San Diego Padres
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals
Nolan Arenado, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals

Julio Rodriguez Agrees to Massive Long-Term Deal with Seattle Mariners that Could Max Out at $470 Million

Julio Rodriguez has finalized a historic payday…

The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, nicknamed “J-Rod,” has finalized a massive long-term extension deal with the Seattle Mariners that guarantees him $210 million and could max out at $470 million, which would be the richest deal in American sports history, sources told ESPN on Friday.

Julio RodriguezThe Mariners announced the deal on Friday before Rodriguez’s at-bat in the sixth inning of Seattle’s 3-2 win over the Cleveland Guardians, and he received a standing ovation from the crowd of 39,870. In a news release announcing the agreement, the team called it a “historic day for Julio and Mariners fans.”

“This is a great day for my family and me,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I have always wanted to spend my whole career here, in Seattle, with this team and with these fans. I want to win here, in Seattle. That was what I told my agents, and what I told [president of baseball operations] Jerry [Dipoto]. I am so happy to be here.”

The base deal is for $120 million and lasts through the 2029 season, sources said.

Following the 2028 season, the Mariners can exercise an option for an additional eight or 10 years, depending on where Rodriguez finishes in MVP voting in the preceding seasons.

If the Mariners turn down the option, Rodriguez can exercise a five-year, $90 million player option after the 2029 season or hit free agency just shy of his 30th birthday.

The Mariners’ option is where the potential money can grow into a historically large figure. If Rodriguez maxes out his MVP escalators, Seattle’s option would be for 10 years and $350 million, taking the total value of the deal to $470 million through 2039. The lowest level would be for eight years and $200 million on top of the original $120 million, keeping Rodriguez tied to the Mariners through 2037.

“Julio is among the most exciting players in the game and has only scratched the surface of what’s to come,” Dipoto said in a statement. “We feel the uniqueness of this deal befits the person. His infectious personality and ability on the field are only surpassed by his character away from it. We are thrilled that generations of Mariners fans will have the privilege of watching him play in T-Mobile Park for many years to come.”

Rodriguez, a powerful and fast center fielder, became one of the most exciting players in baseball when he made the Mariners’ Opening Day roster. His dynamic skills and big personality endeared him to a Seattle community that hasn’t seen the Mariners make a postseason in two decades.

With an MLB All-Star Game selection, an epic Home Run Derby performance and a .267/.326/.467 line with 20 home runs and 23 stolen bases, Rodriguez has made perhaps an even bigger impact than anticipated.

“He’s learned a lot over the last 4½, five months about Major League Baseball and things he needed to work on and continue to improve upon,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said Friday. “Really good teammate. I mean, you can go on and on describing where he’s at. But there’s a lot of baseball, really good baseball ahead of him, and I know that’s what excites me and the organization.”

Signed as an amateur out of the Dominican Republic for $1.75 million in July 2017, Rodriguez was seen by scouts as a prototypical corner outfielder who could hit for power. What he has blossomed into, particularly over the past two years, is a true five-tool player with elite speed and the range for center field without sacrificing any of the power that remains one of his calling cards.

The Mariners broke camp with Rodriguez in center field. He struggled in April, striking out 30 times in 73 at-bats without a home run. Since then, Rodriguez has been one of the top players in baseball and the best on a Mariners team that is 69-57 and 2½ games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for the final American League wild-card spot.

His deal, which was first reported by MLB.com, guarantees him the most money for a player with less than one full year in the major leagues. San Diego signed Fernando Tatis Jr. to a 14-year, $340 million contract after his second season, and the Tampa Bay Rays guaranteed $182 million over 11 seasons to shortstop Wander Franco last winter.

Rodriguez is seventh this season in Baseball-Reference wins above replacement and 16th in FanGraphs’ version. Provided he finishes high in MVP voting in future seasons, his deal is likelier to resemble that of Tatis.

While the 10-year version of Seattle’s option would necessitate consistently high MVP finishes, an eight-year, $280 million version — which would guarantee Rodriguez $400 million — is very attainable.

The potential record-setting nature of the $470 million ceiling could soon be eclipsed. Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani is set to reach free agency after the 2023 season. A year later, Padres star Juan Soto, who turned down a guaranteed $440 million from the Washington Nationals before they traded him, could be a free agent right after he turns 26.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Among the Finalists for the MLB’s Hank Aaron Award

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is in the running for a coveted MLB award…

The 22-year-old Dominican-Canadian professional baseball player and designated hitter for the Toronto Blue Jays has been named a finalist for the Hank Aaron Award, the first since the legend’s death.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Guerrero is a finalist alongside Shohei Ohtani, Bryce HarperJuan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr.

The winners of the award, which was established in 1999 by Major League Baseball to honor the best offensive player in each league, will be announced in November.

Ohtani, the favorite for American League MVP, is the first player who also pitches ever nominated. In addition to Ohtani and Guerrero, New York’s Aaron Judge, Baltimore’s Cedric Mullins, Oakland’s Matt Olson, Kansas City’s Salvador Perez and Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez are the American League nominees.

Joining Harper, Soto and Tatis in the National League are Cincinnati’s Nick Castellanos, San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford, Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman and St. Louis’ Paul Goldschmidt.

In a phone interview, Billye Aaron, who was married to Hank Aaron for 48 years, said her husband “was always very excited about the award itself and, of course, very excited about the World Series because, during that time, before every fourth game, he had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know and shake hands with the winners.”

The voting panel includes eight Hall of Fame players — including new voters Chipper Jones, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz — as well as a fan vote.

Aaron, MLB’s longtime home run king and one of the most beloved and respected players in the game’s history, died in his sleep in January.

“I’m still in a state of grief beyond measure,” Billye Aaron said. “I’m doing OK. I have some difficulty many days. But like everybody else, when you come to this stage in your life, you have to learn to cope with it. You can’t change it. You can’t do anything about God’s will. So you learn to accept it and learn to go on.

“I miss him so very, very much. I loved him so very, very much.”

Aaron, she said, would have been particularly excited for the NL Division Series that starts Friday between the two MLB teams for whom he played: the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. Aaron played his first 12 years for the Milwaukee Braves before they moved to Atlanta, where he spent nine seasons. A two-year stint with the Brewers wrapped up his career.

“He loved Milwaukee. He loved the Milwaukee Braves. He loved the Milwaukee Brewers,” Billye Aaron said. “And he loved, of course, the Atlanta Braves. He probably would’ve had some difficulty not rooting for both teams. The team that is your bread and butter — you probably would fall into that category. And being on the staff as well. So he probably would have to pull for Atlanta. But I know he had a strong fondness for the Milwaukee team.”

MLB intended to honor Aaron in Atlanta at July’s All-Star Game. Blowback from Georgia’s new voting-rights laws, however, prompted MLB to shift the game to Denver’s Coors Field, where Freeman and Judge escorted Billye Aaron onto the field for the ceremony that celebrated her husband.

While MLB weathered criticism for the choice, Billye Aaron said “it was the right thing for Major League Baseball to do.”

“In light of the political situation going on then and continuing to go on now,” she said, “the decision to move the All-Star Game out of the city of Atlanta, in spite of the impact that it would have on Atlanta and on the businesses that were preparing for the great game — I still think Major League Baseball did exactly what it needed to do in recognizing that racism can overrule some things.”

Salvador Perez Breaks Johnny Bench’s Record for Home Runs by a Catcher in a Season

Salvador Perez is one hit ahead in the history books…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player for the Kansas City Royals hit his 46th home run on Monday, breaking Johnny Bench‘s record for home runs by a catcher in a season, as the Royals beat the Cleveland Indians 7-2.

Salvador Perez Perez hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning, topping Bench’s total from 1970 for the most by a player who played at least 75% of his team’s games at catcher.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “I thank God for this. It’s amazing.”

Perez also moved into a tie for the major league lead in homers with Toronto Blue Jays‘ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and leads the MLB with 115 RBIs, the first catcher with that many RBIs since Mike Piazza in 1999.

It has been a long road for Perez this season to put himself in contention for the home run title. He trailed Shohei Ohtani — the home run leader at the time — by 12 at the MLB All-Star break and made up the distance by hitting 25 homers since July 24.

Only Jimmie Foxx in 1935 has won the home run title after trailing the leader by at least 12 dingers at the All-Star break, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.

“It’s just hard to get your head around, to be honest,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “The long history in this game and how many great players have come through. For him to do something that nobody’s done, it’s amazing.”

Starting again behind the plate — the durable All-Star has seen some time at designated hitter — Perez drove a 1-2 pitch from Triston McKenzie into the left-field bleachers, a drive that traveled 429 feet. Perez pointed to the sky after crossing home plate and was hugged by several teammates as he entered the dugout.

“For a guy who’s so respected in this clubhouse, it was different than your normal home run,” Matheny said. “You could see the look on Salvy’s face. He’ll never forget it.”

Perez tied Bench on Thursday night in Kansas City as the Royals played Seattle. He went 1-for-13 at the plate in the final three games of the series but didn’t feel any pressure to set the record and was more focused on winning games.

“Perez is one of those rare individuals to find energy and passion just to keep playing,” Indians interim manager DeMarlo Hale said. “And the offensive year he’s having it’s even more special. People don’t talk about him in the MVP race, but I’ll tell you what, he’s there in my book.”

Perez also singled in the first and made his presence known defensively when he threw out Myles Straw trying to steal second base in the bottom of the inning.

“He’s a great hitter, to start,” McKenzie said. “Second of all, he’s a great catcher. Threw out Straw early in the game, kind of shut down some of our momentum. He’s a guy that can always make you pay for mistakes. He did just that. He has definitely caught fire toward the end of the season.”

Salvador Perez Ties Johnny Bench’s Record for Homers in a Season by a Catcher

Salvador Perez is rewriting history…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball catcher and Kansas City Royals slugger has tied Johnny Bench‘s record for homers in a season by a catcher with his 45th in a 7-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.

Salvador Perez

Perez hit a two-run homer in the first inning, matching Bench’s total from 1970 for the most by a player who played at least 75% of his team’s games at catcher.

Perez is tied with Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Major League Baseball lead in homers and also leads the MLB with 112 RBIs.

“We’re witnessing a special season,” manager Mike Matheny said. “We’re witnessing a special player. To be able to be put in the conversation with one most would say is the best ever is pretty rare.”

His talent is not lost on the opposition.

“Salvador, it seems like he’s hitting a home run a day against everybody,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “You can’t miss against him right now.”

Perez is three homers away from matching Jorge Soler‘s team record from 2019. Soler extended the Royals’ record by 10. Perez also tied Mike Sweeney for second on the club’s all-time list with 197 home runs. George Brett holds the club record with 317.

After bouncing back from an elbow injury that caused him to miss all of the 2019 season with an elbow injury, Perez has been on a tear. His 56 home runs in 2020 and 2021 are the most in MLB over that span, while his 144 RBIs rank third.

If Perez, Guerrero and Shohei Ohtani (44) — from Venezuela, Canada and Japan, respectively — are atop the home run leaderboard until the season’s end, it will be the first time in MLB history that the top three leaders were all born outside the United States, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

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.”