The Atlanta Braves are three-time champions of the National League East Division, but their chances of winning a third got longer over the weekend when young superstar outfielder Ronald Acuna suffered a season-ending torn ACL in a game vs. the Marlins. Atlanta is now +500 on the MLB odds to win the NL East.
Atlanta Move Forward This Season Without Ronald Acuña Jr.
Acuna was hurt during Atlanta’s 5-4 victory over the Marlins on Saturday when he landed awkwardly on the warning track while chasing a fly ball struck by Miami’s Jazz Chisholm Jr. Acuna grabbed at his knee in agony while Chisholm circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run. It was pretty evident immediately that it was a serious injury. Acuna is expected to miss nine to 10 months, which would put him in jeopardy of missing the start of the 2022 season.
“I knew something was wrong,” Acuna said. “I guess I didn’t understand the severity of it, until the doctor told me about it later on. Nothing I can do about it now. I can’t control things I can’t control.”
Acuna was the third betting favorite to win the NL MVP Award behind Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom and Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. Acuna leads the Braves in batting average (.283), homers (24) and stolen bases this season (17), and leads all big leaguers with 72 runs scored. He became just the fifth player to compile at least 100 homers and 75 stolen bases at age 23 or younger, joining Mike Trout, Andruw Jones, Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr.
The ZiPS projections had Acuna finishing this season with 44 homers and 7.2 WAR, the latter number one the best for all position players, though falling to best Angels star Shohei Ohtani when pitching contributions are included.
“I was feeling kind of sad,” Chisholm said. “Before the game, we were talking about who was going to hit a home run today. For it to come at that expense, it kind of sucks for me and him in a way, because the way that I got my home run is because he got hurt.” Chisholm wore yellow batting gloves to honor Acuna in Sunday’s finale.
The Braves already played most of the first half without injured catcher and cleanup hitter Travis d’Arnaud and without No. 3 hitter Marcell Ozuna, who was both injured and arrested on domestic violence charges. Ace pitcher Mike Soroka also is out.
Acuna was voted an All-Star starter this year by the fans, and led the National League in the fan voting phase, but will now miss the game being held Tuesday at Coors Field. San Diego third baseman Manny Machado replaced him on the NL All-Star roster.
Rather amazingly, the Braves have not had a winning record at all this season – they enter the break at 44-45, third in the NL East Division, four games behind the first-place New York Mets, who are -300 to win the division. Only two other major league teams have not had a winning record at any point this season: Miami and Texas. The Marlins reached .500 once at 7-7, while the Rangers were .500 two different times at 3-3 and 18-18.
The Braves had not had a losing record at the All-Star Game since 2017, when they entered the break at 42-45. Since moving to Atlanta in 1966, the club has had a losing record at the break 25 times, including a franchise-worst 31-58 record in 2016. The club’s best mark at the All-Star Game came in 1998, when they went 59-29 in the first half.
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