Atlanta Braves: Deeper look at amazing percentage numbers from Ronald Acuna Jr.

Notes from the numbers for the Atlanta Braves’ young, outstanding outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr.

In his career, Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. has a .285 average against left-handed pitching. When facing right-handed pitching? .285.

RHP .285/.361/.521
LHP .285/.379/.566

RHP: HR every 16.67 ABs
LHP: HR every 13.44 ABs

He’s been a better hitter in the second halves of his two seasons.

First Halves: .278/.354/.484  // 92 R // 28 HRs // 72 RBI // 15 SB //
Second Halves: .292/.376/579  // 113 R // 39 HRs // 93 // 38 SB //

His bat is a difference maker for the Braves in the win-loss column as evidenced by his numbers in wins vs. numbers in losses.

WINS: .313/.400/.602
LOSSES: .243/.310/.426

Where he plays in the outfield hasn’t had much effect on his offensive numbers as they have been steady across the board, regardless of his defensive position.

Acuna has been a plus defender at all three outfield spots with positive defensive runs saved number for each.

However, in right field his Rdrs/yr (averaged out over 1,200 innings) projection is at 37. Based on his current production in a limited sample size of 221.2 innings, Acuna’s defense is on pace to account for 37 runs saved over the course of 1,200 innings or approximately 135 games.

All indications are he will be the primary right fielder for the Braves this season.

One point of debate about Acuna is where he hits in the lineup. Here’s a quick look at his numbers as a leadoff hitter vs. hitting second or fourth.

  • Leadoff: .297/.380/.565
  • Second: .238/.302/.400
  • Fourth: .278/.373/.481

An interesting thing to note, of his 53 career steals, 49 have come as a leadoff hitter.

One of the arguments against Acuna hitting leadoff is that it takes away his run-producing potential. Here’s a look at his at-bat/RBI ratio for each lineup spot.

  • Leadoff: 6.13 AB/RBI
  • Second: 10.5 AB/RBI
  • Fourth: 6.33 AB/RBI

Acuna has actually driven in runs at a higher rate as a leadoff hitter than at cleanup. I checked in on another star player who spends a lot of time at leadoff and found the same result. Mookie Betts still drove in runs at a higher rate hitting from the leadoff spot as opposed to hitting second.

Related Story: Will Acuna leadoff for Braves in 2020?

Of the top 50 leaders in runs scored in 2019, only one had a slugging percentage under .400 (Leury Garcia)

Of the top 10 leaders in runs scored in 2019, the lowest slugging percentage was a .518 (which belonged to Ronald Acuna).

The league leaders in runs scored all get on base and they all hit for power. Acuna adds speed at leadoff and finished third in the MLB in runs scored in 2019.

How clutch is he? In late and close situations, Acuna is hitting .268/.366/.463 with 8 homers in 149 ABs.

In 2019, Acuna raised his line-drive rate from 18.3% to 24.4%. Acuna has a career average of .661 on line-drives in play.

In 2019, Acuna sent one-quarter of all flyballs over the fence.

It’s hard to believe Acuna is only entering his age-22 season with the Atlanta Braves. He’s an incredible talent and it doesn’t matter if he’s facing right or left-handed pitching, he does damage to all.

Stats compiled from Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.

Next: Can Braves lock Freeman up?

If he keeps up his production with the glove in right-field we could easily be talking MVP at the end of the 2020 season.