Sports

3 Braves Who Have Stepped Up In Ronald Acuna Jr.’s Absence

Ozzie Albies #1 of the Atlanta Braves celebrates with Joc Pederson #22 after scoring the winning run on a walk-off RBI single by Austin Riley #27 during the ninth inning of Game One of the National League Championship Series at Truist Park on October 16, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Photo by Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images)

 

Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., arguably the team’s best player, got injured in July, tearing his ACL and missing the rest of the regular season and playoffs.

That particular injury received a lot of coverage at the moment it happened: we were all wondering whether the Braves had enough human resources to make a run at the World Series without their most exciting player.

And here we are, a few months later, and Atlanta has a 2-0 advantage over the reigning champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the National League Championship Series.

Atlanta won its division and then eliminated the NL Central champions, the very good Milwaukee Brewers.

These three Braves are part of the reason why the team was able to keep its head over water after losing Acuna.

 

3. Eddie Rosario

Eddie Rosario came from the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline, just like other key acquisitions such as Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, and Adam Duvall.

All four have been crucial contributors to the Braves’ stretch run and postseason run.

We will, however, focus on the one who has received the least recognition in this article: Rosario.

The lefty-hitting masher was having an uneven season in Cleveland.

However, once he came to Atlanta, he started producing like we know he can.

Given the Braves’ renewed outfield depth, he didn’t play every day, but he has been very, very good when he has taken the field.

During the regular season, he hit .271/.330/.573 with seven homers in 106 plate appearances in a Braves uniform.

During the NLCS against the Dodgers, Rosario has also produced whenever he has been needed.

In Game 1, he went 1-for-4 with a run scored.

In Game 2, he provided the game-winning hit, with a rocket to second base that Corey Seager couldn’t catch.

He also went 4-for-5 with a run and an RBI in that game.

He has been excellent for Atlanta.

 

2. Ozzie Albies

Ozzie Albies is perhaps the league’s most underrated superstar.

Because he is just that: a superstar.

Consider this: Albies hit .259/.310/.488 with 30 home runs and 20 stolen bases and it wasn’t even a particularly good year for his standards.

The man had 77 extra-base hits, and plays very good defense at second base.

He is the Braves’ catalyst and spark-plug, the one who starts a very good and underrated offense.

He has been a key cog on the 2021 Braves, and doesn’t always receive the praise he deserves as one of the best and most consistent second basemen in MLB.

He has three hits, two runs, and an RBI in the young NLCS against the Dodgers, and will continue to inflict damage.

He also had a key steal to set up Austin Riley‘s game-winning hit in Game 1.

 

1. Austin Riley

To replace a guy like Acuna, a team not only needs to go to the market, but it also needs internal candidates who step up and take a step forward in their development.

That’s precisely what Riley represents to this team.

After struggling in 2020, he finally broke out in 2021, with a strong .303/.367/.531 line and 33 home runs.

In fact, Riley tied for second in the team’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) ranking, with 4.2 (the same as Acuna, albeit with more playing time).

Additionally, Riley’s line drive to left field represented the game-winning hit against the Dodgers in Game 1.

He has been money.



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