The Atlanta Braves play against the Chicago Cubs at home on Thursday, with the play ball voice expected to come at 7:20 p.m. ET.
The home crowd will have an incentive to go to the stadium: Ronald Acuna Jr., one of MLB’s truly elite players, will be in the lineup.
Yes: after nine months of recovery from ACL surgery, the kid is back.
Acuna vows to be ready to be the same player he was before the injury, if not better.
The Braves could really use his right-handed bat in the lineup: in fact, they have already saved an important spot for him.
The team already tweeted tonight’s lineup against the Cubs, with Acuna’s name at the top.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 28, 2022
It was his previous spot, and it will remain his for at least several more years, in all likelihood.
A few years ago, MLB teams preferred to save their most powerful sluggers for the third, fourth, and fifth spots in the lineup, while having contact-oriented, speedy guys at the top.
Acuna Will Hit Leadoff, Where He Belongs
What if Acuna reunites all those traits?
MLB teams have understood they need to get their best hitters as much plate appearances as possible, which is why the Braves are making the right call by hitting Acuna leadoff.
He gets on base, he can run, and he can show enormous power, too.
Thursday night can be the start of the Braves’ turnaround in 2022.
They are 8-11 to start the year, 5.5 games behind the 14-5 New York Mets for the NL East lead.
A healthy Acuna can, and will, compete with Bryce Harper for the best hitter in the division honor.
He is a true difference-maker, and he is ready to make his long-awaited return.