GOOD NEWS: “MLB Player of the year Award” Ronald Acuña Jr…….

Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr. Exits vs. Marlins With Hamstring Injury.

Video: Braves' Ronald Acuña Jr. Becomes 1st Player Ever to Hit 40 HR, Steal  70 Bases | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors | Bleacher Report

At this point the blueprint is clear: To impress Major League Baseball players and win The Sporting News Player of the Year award — voted on solely by MLB players, as it has been since 1936 — all you have to do is something historic, break new statistical ground in a sport that’s been part of the fabric of Americana for more than a century.

That’s all. Simple enough.

This Day in Stats: MLB, September 30
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OK, maybe not so simple. In 2021, Shohei Ohtani was the runaway winner of the award for his incredible season, pitching at a Cy Young level and hitting at an MVP level. The next year, even though Ohtani was again amazing, Aaron Judge was voted as TSN’s Player of the Year for his 62-home run campaign, which set the American League record. And for 2023, even though once again Ohtani continued to raise the bar, with a season arguably better than 2021 or 2023, he finished a distant second in the player voting. And I do mean distant.

Atlanta superstar Ronald Acuña, Jr., won the award, with 242 votes, thanks to his epic 40/70 season. Ohtani was second, with 44 votes. Mookie Betts (36), Matt Olson (17) and Corey Seager (15) rounded out the top five.

MORE: Complete list of Sporting News MLB Awards

This season, he became the first player in MLB history with at least 40 home runs and at least 70 stolen bases, finishing with 41 homers and 73 steals.

“Acuna, 40/70, I don’t know if we will ever see it again,” Nationals pitcher Josiah Gray, an All-Star this season, told TSN. “Maybe he will do it again. He’s that talented. I’ve been facing him since he got to the big leagues. He’s a tough at-bat. He’s locked in on every pitch. He can hit a fastball with the best of them and he can hammer offspeed.

“As a pitcher, you can’t dodge him. First batter of the game, and he can take you deep or work a walk and he’s off in the blink of an eye. It is really fascinating to see what he does.”

Ronald Acuna Jr disappoints in Atlanta Braves elimination and avoids media  interviews | Marca

In first innings this season, Acuña batted .378 with a .451 on-base percentage. He hit eight leadoff home runs, to go with 10 doubles and 18 stolen bases. Oh, and he walked more times (17) than he struck out (14). We’ll get back to that one.

Acuña’s power/speed season was unprecedented. The “40/70 Club” name is the one that will stick, but this year he was also the first player ever in the 40/50 Club and the 40/60 Club. Oh, and the first to reach 30/60 and the first to 30/70.

Let’s frame it this way: In MLB history, nobody with at least 40 home runs had ever stolen more than 46 bases (Alex Rodriguez, in 1998). And nobody with at least 70 steals had ever hit more than 28 home runs (Rickey Henderson, 1986).

MORE: Inside Ronald Acuña’s 40/70 club

And his milestone stolen bases? It was something Braves fans will remember for a long time. Acuña hit the 40-home run plateau on Sept. 22 — a leadoff homer, of course. On the 27th, the Braves were hosting the Cubs, who were chasing one of the NL’s wild-card spots. Atlanta trailed by one heading into the eighth inning. With one out, Acuña singled and promptly stole second base, his 69th of the season, then scored the tying run on a single by Ozzie Albies.

Ronald Acuña Jr.: Atlanta Braves outfielder becomes the first player in MLB  history to join the 40-70 club | CNN

The visiting Cubs scored once in the 10th — a magic runner special — to take the lead. Acuña came up with one out and singled again, plating Atlanta’s magic runner and tying the game (oh, yeah, he had 106 RBIs this year despite batting leadoff). Everyone in the ballpark knew he was going, and he did just that, swiping second base to become the first member of the 40/70 club. Moments later, he raced hone on another single by Albies to give his Braves a walk-off win.

No doubt, the 2023 regular season was the Summer of Acuña.

After a couple frustrating years, everything aligned heading into 2023. For one thing, MLB implemented new rule changes designed to bring more excitement to the game, and Acuña’s nothing if not exciting. The bases were larger starting this season, and pitchers were limited in the number of pick-off attempts they could make. The idea was to encourage more stolen base attempts, and that was perfect for Acuña.

Another big reason? He was healthy. Midway through the 2021 season, Acuña tore the ACL in his right knee, ending his season. After an offseason of rehab and a delayed start to the 2022 season, Acuña returned but wasn’t quite himself. He was … fine.

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