On Friday, the National League MVP candidate became the fifth player to join MLB's 40-homer, 40-stolen base club in a season and the first ever to post a 40-60 season — much like how he was the first to post a 30-60 season.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 22, 2023
The only other MLB players to go 40-40 in a season: Jose Canseco (1988), Barry Bonds (1996), Alex Rodriguez (1998) and Alfonso Soriano (2006).
Acuña finished agonizingly close to the 40-40 club in 2019, hitting 41 homers and stealing an NL-best 37 bases. MLB rule changes helped his cause this year, with limits on pickoff attempts and larger bases making it easier to swipe a bag.
Ronald Acuña Jr., MVP?
Even without the milestones, Acuña is finishing a season that has him neck-and-neck with Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts for NL MVP, with their first-base teammates Freddie Freeman and Matt Olson right behind them.
Acuña stood as the runaway favorite for much of the season until a torrid stretch from Betts gave him the lead in WAR and a number of other stats. Acuña has since responded with his own hot streak, hitting .386/.446/.807 in his past 13 games.
As things stand, Acuña has the lead or is virtually tied with Betts in most offensive statistics, but Betts likely has the edge in defensive value, given that he has played second base and shortstop in addition to his Gold Glove form in right field.
But with Acuña continuing to make history, it's hard to deny that he should be the favorite right now.