ATLANTA -- Ronald Acuna Jr. earned another spot in the record book, strengthened his resume for the National League Rookie of the Year Award and once again showed why he is one of the key reasons why the Braves sit atop the National League East.
Acuna added to the wonder of his sensational second half when he set a franchise record by drilling his eighth leadoff homer during Wednesday afternoon's 9-8 loss to the Red Sox. The 20-year-old phenom's incredible second half has positioned his rookie season to be compared to some of the greatest in baseball history.
"It's been really good," Braves manger Brian Snitker said. "The kid has been outstanding, and he'll keep going."
Acuna added to the splendor of his accomplishments when he drilled Hector Velazquez's 1-0 fastball over the left-center-field wall. His eighth leadoff homer broke Marquis Grissom's previous franchise record and moved him within one of the MLB rookie record Chris Young set for the 2007 D-backs. Alfonso Soriano set the MLB record with 13 leadoff homers for the '03 Yankees.
Acuna has done all of this within the 44-game span that has followed him being moved to the leadoff spot immediately after the All-Star break. He has hit .329, tallied 17 homers and constructed a 1.109 OPS within this span. In the process, he has erased the once-strong belief that the Nationals' Juan Soto will win the NL Rookie of the Year Award.
With his homer off Velazquez increasing his season total to 24, Acuna passed Mickey Mantle and moved into a seventh-place tie with Tony Conigliaro for the most homers hit in one season by a player before his 21st birthday. Mel Ott set the record with 42 in 1929. The next players within the young outfielder's sights are Orlando Cepeda (25 in '58), Eddie Mathews (25 in '52) and Al Kaline (27 in '55).