MLB is having a youth resurgence with Ronald Acuña’s name coming up in any conversation related to the best young player in the game. Acuña is off to an absolutely torrid start, already having amassed 14 extra base hits in just 13 games.
Through the first few weeks of the season, Acuña is slashing .442/.491/1.000, good for a wRC+ of 284! Atlanta could not ask for a hotter start from their young star, and his numbers will sustain the inevitable in-season slump pretty robustly with this type of head-start.
This article isn’t really about any of those amazing numbers though ---- this article is about one ground ball. One ground ball in the first inning of a midafternoon game, that in any other instance would have gone completely unnoticed.
.@ronaldacunajr24 beat out a groundball at 31.0 ft/sec ...— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) April 11, 2021
Elite is 30.0 ft/sec. pic.twitter.com/JoV6Q0DAcK
Go ahead. Watch that play a few times. We’ll wait.
On Matt Moore’s first pitch of the game, Acuña came out swinging, and the Braves’ leadoff hitter demonstrated why he’s one of the most electric players in the game
That ball was a rocket, with an exit velocity of nearly 109 MPH, and it was hit right at Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius. Didi is a pretty good infielder, he made a clean play, he didn’t bobble the transfer, he didn’t double-pump, he did everything right. Still, the result was an infield single.
Acuña’s average of 29 feet per second puts him in the top-ten of fastest players in baseball. He sprinted to first base on that ground ball at 31 feet per second! Considering average speed for an MLB player is 27 feet per second, and, 30 feet per second is considered elite, this was an amazing feat.
Lastly, take a look at how quickly Acuña stops. He decelerates on a dime, a remarkable showcase of athleticism.
Frankly, Acuña’s numbers to-date is just having fun with small samples; Acuña is an awesome offensive player, but let’s face it. he’s currently batting .432 on any ball hit in play, and a-third of all his fly balls have left the yard. Obviously that’s not going to continue, but we can certainly enjoy it while it lasts. It’s worth celebrating any player who can make a routine groundball an exciting play.
Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano