June 18, 2024

The Atlanta Braves defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1 on May 26, although they also lost. Ronald Acuña Jr., the reigning National League MVP Award winner, left the game early due to a non-contact injury to his left knee while on base.

Initially, the Braves reported Acuña had left knee discomfort. The news got even worse when it was revealed that he had a major tear of his ACL and will miss the rest of 2024.

Acuña used X (previously Twitter) to convey a one-word message with admirers. “Sorry,” he said, adding a broken heart and sad face emoticons.

His statement was welcomed with overwhelming support. Not only are Braves fans dismayed by the right-handed hitter’s latest setback. Baseball suffers from Acuña’s absence from the field. X user Owen Suozzo stated, “Ronald I am a Phillies fan, but that doesn’t stop me from being upset since I won’t be able to see you play. Get well soon, brother. You’re a joy to watch and a blessing to baseball. “You always have this Phillies fan in your corner.”

Acuña’s 2024 campaign began slowly. In his first 222 plate appearances, he was batting.250/.351/.365, with four home runs, 15 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 16 steals. However, his bat had recently begun to heat up. In his last 33 plate appearances, he had an OPS of.849.

 

Braves' MVP OF Ronald Acuña Jr. tears ACL vs. Pirates, done for season -  Yahoo Sports

Acuña Has Experienced Lots of Ups & Downs in Recent Years

In 2023, Acuña won the MVP Award with 41 home runs and 73 stolen bases, establishing a new club. Since his debut in 2018, he has established himself as one of baseball’s most electrifying players. However, supporters have recently found it difficult to appreciate watching him play a full season entirely healthy. Here’s what happened in the last five seasons:

  • 2020: shortened season due to COVID
  • 2021: Tore ACL in right knee
  • 2022: Played in 119 games but was still fully recovering from that injury
  • 2023: Won NL MVP Award
  • 2024: Tore ACL in left knee

That is a (mainly) difficult stretch. The Braves will be unable to replace Acuña. However, this was a problem Atlanta faced not long ago. The team acquired Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler, and Eddie Rosario at the 2021 trade deadline to cover for Acuña’s initial ACL injury. Atlanta eventually won the World Series. According to Baseball-Reference, Rosario won the NLCS MVP award, while Soler won the World Series MVP.

Braves’ Path to Another NL East Just Got a Little Tougher

For the greater part of a decade, the Braves have been the National League East’s top team. They’ve won six consecutive division titles, including two seasons of 100-plus wins in 2022 and 2023.

Manager Brian Snitker has seen his team go 30-20 in the first 50 games of 2024. That’s a good start, but they’re still six games behind the first-place Philadelphia Phillies, who are 38-16.

Other key players for the Braves, including starting pitcher Spencer Strider and second baseman Ozzie Albies, have already suffered significant injuries. Acuña’s latest injury will make an uphill battle even more challenging. But if there’s one club that can overcome challenges and win a division title, it’s the Braves. Just ask the 2022 New York Mets why no NL East lead is secure until the regular season is officially over.

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