NEW YORK -- Before extending his pursuit to record what would be just the fifth 40-homer, 40-stolen base season in MLB history, Ronald Acuña Jr. can savor the fact that he now stands as the second-youngest player to join the game’s exclusive 30-30 club.
Acuna secured his membership when he stole second base during the eighth inning of the Braves’ 2-1, 14-inning win over the Mets on Friday night at Citi Field. With 36 homers and 30 stolen bases, the 21-year-old Braves outfielder has realized a goal he set during the offseason.
“Just during the offseason talking to other ballplayers in Venezuela, I just remember every day we’d talk and I would mention, I’d really like to get to the 30-30 club and get to 100 RBIs,” Acuna said through an interpreter. “That’s been the daily goal.”
The only other player to join the 30-30 club before his 22-year-old season was Mike Trout, who had 30 homers and 49 stolen bases during his 20-year-old season in 2012.
So was this something Braves manager Brian Snitker envisioned his outfielder being able to accomplish during his second big league season?
“When you are talking about him, I wouldn’t have said you were crazy,” Snitker said. “With just the skill set the kid has. I venture to say that won’t be his last one.”
Acuna joins Hank Aaron (1963), Dale Murphy (1983) and Ron Gant (1990 and ’91) as the only Braves players to produce a 30-30 season. Acuna accomplished this feat through 130 team games, making him the fastest in franchise history to do so. Gant previously held this distinction (149 games in ’91). The Reds' Eric Davis (105 games in 1987) is the fastest to produce this combo in MLB history.
Now Acuna will aim to join Jose Canseco (1988), Barry Bonds (1996), Alex Rodriguez (1998) and Alfonso Soriano (2006) as the only players to record a 40-40 season.
Acuna is currently on pace to finish the season with 44 home runs and 37 stolen bases. He swiped 15 bases through the first 28 games after the All-Star break. But his steal on Friday night was just his second in his past 11 games.
Looking just at the post-All-Star break numbers, Acuna has averaged 4.23 at-bats per game and he’s homered once every 11 at-bats. This rate puts him on pace to finish with 48 homers.
Even though his stolen-base rate dipped over the past couple weeks, he still has 0.436 stolen bases per game since the break. If he were to maintain this rate over the season’s final 32 games, he’d tally 13 more steals and finish the season with 43 stolen bases.
Time will tell whether Acuna is capable of maintaining these rates. But he’s already repeatedly shown it’s not wise to place limits on his capabilities.
“He’s an incredible, incredible ballplayer,” Braves shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said through an interpreter. “He has a great skill set for being so young.”