MLB is, thankfully, populated with blossoming stars who reached or approached their ceiling at a very young age.
This star power is actually the one that could save MLB from being left behind in case of an extended lockout that drags for several more months.
When the action restarts, people will likely return to the stadiums to see these young studs go all out and show their skill.
However, none of them, not even Tatis, carry as much power-speed upside as Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr.
The League’s Premier 40-40 Threat
In fact, Acuna may be the only player in MLB with a real shot to finish with a 40-40 season.
Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins and Tatis may have the power and speed to get there, but their stolen base ceiling is somewhat capped according to recent performance.
Hitting 40 homers in a single season is quite a feat, and stealing 40 bases, especially in modern times, is really something.
Doing both in the same campaign is nothing short of amazing.
Acuna almost did it in 2019, his first full season in MLB, no less.
That year, he hit 41 home runs, but fell short of the other end of the deal with 37 stolen bases.
He made history with another stat, though.
According to Danny Vietti, Acuna is the only MLB player with 100 or more round-trippers and 75 or more thefts within his first 400 career games.
A complete list of MLB players with 100+ HR and 75+ SB within their first 400 career games:
• Ronald Acuña Jr.
This is the end of the list. pic.twitter.com/2dLq5u6Z2T
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) January 30, 2022
He is the definition of a dual threat.
The Braves’ dynamic outfielder has, so far, 105 homers and 78 steals in 395 games.
He was on his way to a historic season in 2021 before tearing his ACL in late July.
He had hit 24 homers and stole 17 bases in just 82 games (!) before the injury, and was reaching an unprecedented level as far as offensive excellent goes.
Over those 82 games, he had accumulated 4.2 Wins Above Replacement, or WAR.
He Is Developing Into One Of The Best Players In The League
That means, over a 162-game pace, he would have gotten really, really close to 8.0 WAR, which is really amazing.
Acuna got a World Series ring thanks to his contributions during the first four months of the season, and even though he couldn’t help the Braves in the playoffs, he was always rooting for his teammates and showing his support.
He may be needed to lead the way starting from this season if the team doesn’t re-sign first baseman and star slugger Freddie Freeman.
As he has shown ever since he got the call to the bigs, Acuna is up to the task.
Not only is he a more complete player than Freeman, but he is also a superior hitter at this point.
He is just 24, so he has a bright future ahead of him if he remains healthy.
After surgery and rehab, he seems ready to go by the time spring training starts, which may not be soon according to the recent collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations.
This might be a hot take but I’m a very big fan of watching Ronald Acuna Jr. hit baseballs https://t.co/MNr275TgM0
— James Kelly (@jkellyESNY) January 28, 2022
Whatever happens, Acuna already has a place in MLB history.