Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. bags an award

One of the Atlanta Braves pair of Venezuelan outfielders is cited for his season.

While the Atlanta Braves can continue to celebrate the awards being handed out to players of their team, it’s also great to see some of these awards tied to great players of the past.

Such is the case for the Luis Aparicio award, which since 2004 has been annually given to the best-performing Venezuelan player over the course of the current season.

This year, the winner is Ronald Acuna Jr., who now joins an elite club of players who have been named as multi-year recipients of the award.

Of note, Felix Hernandez, most recently within the Braves organization (sort of), won the trophy while a member of the Seattle Mariners in 2008.

Acuna’s first Aparicio award came in 2018 while sharing it with Brewers’ first baseman Jesus Aguilar.  Here in 2020, he carries the award alone.

In 2019, Eugenio Suarez of the Reds edged out Gleyber Torres of the Yankees and Acuna.

The award comes via voting from both Venezuelan and international press members covering baseball.

For his part, Acuna tweeted the following in response to the news this week:

Google translate assists with the interpretation for the Spanish-language impaired among us (author raises hand):

“First of all, thank God, [it is] an honor for me to win this award thanks to all the journalists and those who are part of this award. THANK YOU VERY MUCH”

 

The Namesake

Luis Aparicio, a native of Maracaibo, VZ (also the home town of Braves outfielder Ender Inciarte), was a shortstop for the White Sox, Orioles, and Red Sox over an 18-year career that began in 1956.

He led either his league or the majors in stolen bases for nine straight seasons, culminating in a 57-steal campaign in 1964 and finishing with 506 overall.

While he hit only .262 for his career (reaching .300 only once – in 1970), he also routinely was giving himself up in the form of sacrifice hits/bunts to support his teammates.

Aparicio was the 1956 AL Rookie of the Year and a 10-time All Star.  He was a member of the 1966 World Series Champion Baltimore Orioles, a team also featuring players like Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Davey Johnson, Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, and Boog Powell.

He was a prototypical shortstop of the day:  5’9″, 160 and light-hitting, but a defensive stud.

He was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1984, and this Venezuelan award has been named in his honor to support and encourage the sport of baseball in his native homeland.

The list of winners already recognizes many of baseball’s best athletes.  Somehow, I expect that Acuna’s name will continue to appear as a winner of the Aparicio Award for multiple years to come.