July 16, 2024

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How often does a Major League team sign an international free agent for $100,000 and see them turn into arguably the best player in baseball?

The Atlanta Braves signed outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr in 2014 for $100k as an international amateur free agent, but have watched him outperform that modest bonus to become one of MLB’s best players. Unanimously named the 2023 NL MVP on the heels of only baseball’s fifth-ever 40/40 season, Acuña led either all of baseball or the National League in a whopping NINE different statistical categories, everything from stolen bases (73) and total bases (383) to on-base percentage (.416) and OPS (1.012).

And MLB.com, when polling their baseball writers about the best current player in baseball, almost unanimously agreed with Acuña’s potential placement at the top of the list.

Three of the five named Acuña the best current player, taking the mantle from Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout (2013-2021) and Los Angeles Dodgers two-way star Shohei Ohtani (2022 & 2023), who fell back in the voting since he will only hit in 2024 after undergoing a 2nd UCL surgery last fall.

Who believes in Acuña?

Researched David Adler was one of the three experts that had Acuña #1, citing his unprecedented blend of power and speed. Ronald’s 41 homers and 73 stolen bases last season obliterated the previous high mark for steals in a 40/40 season, 46 by then-Seattle Mariners shortstop Alex Rodriguez in 1998.

 

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