Ronald Acuna Jr. destroyed the Miami Marlins this season.
The star outfielder went deep nine times and had a 1.103 OPS to lead the Atlanta Braves to 15 wins in 19 contests against their NL East rivals. The 21-year-old is the first Braves player since Andruw Jones in 2004 to hit at least nine homers in less than 75 at-bats against an opponent in one season, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
Acuna capped off the performance in style on Thursday with yet another walk-off hit to send SunTrust Park into a frenzy.
“I definitely think it was an appropriate way and a fitting ending to the way we played the Marlins,” he said through an interpreter. “But I would have much rather hit a home run against them.”
Since entering the league in April 2018, only teammate Freddie Freeman and Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout have a higher OPS with at least 160 plate appearances against a team outside of Acuna's 1.120 career mark versus Miami, according to Bowman.
"It’s amazing, it really is," Freeman told David O'Brien of The Athletic. "I think Ronald is going to play until his late 30s if not 40, so he’s got another 19 years. Hopefully I’m around to watch a lot of it."
Right-hander Mike Soroka started the game for Atlanta.
“It’s dominance,” Soroka said. “It’s simple. He came to play every single day. I don’t know if that had anything to do with last year (when he was hit by a Jose Urena pitch).
"He does it against all teams. But what he did against them, I think it put them in a situation where when they get him up to the plate, I think everybody knows he’s got a good chance to do some damage.”
Acuna is now hitting a robust .296/.377/.539 with 36 round-trippers to go along with 29 stolen bases and is a legit NL MVP candidate.