Ronald Acuna Jr. became the first member of MLB’s 30 home run-60 stolen base club last month. Then he made the 40-60 club last week.
You can guess where this is going.
The Atlanta Braves star stole his 70th base of the season and became the first player in MLB history to record a 40-70 season, swiping the bag in the 10th inning against the Chicago Cubs.
Acuna reached base with an opposite-field single to tie the game to score the extra-inning runner. He stole the bag on the next pitch, then pulled the second baseman off the ground and raised it above his head in celebration, as Braves fans gave him a standing ovation:
The moment punctuated a tense situation for the Cubs, who are currently fighting for their survival in the playoff race and are now tied with the Miami Marlins for the third NL wild card spot. Of course, the team had itself to blame a day after Seya Suzuki’s game-casting gaffe, after blowing leads in the bottom of the eighth and ninth innings.
The next hitter, Ozzie Albies, put the game away on the following pitch with a line-drive single to right for a 6-5 walk-off victory.
The win was significant for the 102-58 Braves as it moved 4.5 games ahead of the 97-60 Dodgers for the best record in the National League. The 99-59 Baltimore Orioles are the only team in the AL that could hold home-field advantage in a hypothetical World Series.
Acuña, the current favorite for NL MVP honors, was a significant part of those 102 hits. His stolen base total is limited by recent MLB rule changes restricting pick-off moves and widening the bases, yes, but his 2023 season is still one of the best power-speed combinations in MLB history.
This type of season is so unprecedented that no other player has posted a 40-40 season — Jose Conseco (1988), Barry Bonds (1996), Alex Rodriguez (1998) and Alfonso Soriano (2006) — has posted 50 bases. 70 alone.
With first base and, MVP secured, all that’s left for Acuña is to compete for his first career World Series action. The Braves will begin their playoff campaign in the NLDS against the winner of the wild card series between the 4 and 5 seeds, currently the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks.