Ronald Acuña Jr. Slump Hits Alarming New Low for Braves

Apr 26, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) on the field
Apr 26, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) on the field / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

For some time now, the Atlanta Braves have gone as their young superstar, Ronald Acuña Jr. has gone. But to start 2024, Acuña has slumped while the Braves have continued to win, leading the NL East by a half-game going into Wednesday's game.

Acuña, meanwhile, has hit statistical marks that resemble some previous slumps, while achieving personal records of the wrong kind.

David O'Brien pointed out on Tuesday night that Acuña's two strikeouts to start the game officially gave him more multi-strikeout games than he had in all of last season. April has just finished. Acuña closed the game 0-for-4 and the Braves lost 3-2 to the Seattle Mariners. It lowlights a season where he's slashing just .245/.366/.318.

Surely, reason for concern for both the player and the team, even despite the fact that Atlanta has won through his slow start. The Braves can only get so far without Acuña achieving his potential. He's struggled with fastballs so far this year, slugging .100 against four-seamers, a pitch he slugged .615 against in 2023.

Contextualizing his slow start, his 10-game rolling strikeout rate went above 35 percent in April, something that hadn't happened for him since 2022 when he slumped in July. His slump was as pronounced then as it is now. After bouncing back from the slump, he admitted his knee injury from then held him back.

While there's been no official word from Acuña that the knee is what's to blame for this slump, that same knee bothered him in Spring Training and he missed some time before Opening Day. And the characteristics of what he was struggling through -- struggling with four-seam fastballs -- were similar.

There are nuggets of optimism to glean from the situation. The most obvious is that Acuña has battled through month-long slumps before, that 2022 one sticking out as an obvious example. Acuña can recall the extra work he put in in late July and early August with lots of additional pregame work as a way out.

In 2022, after his 10-game rolling strikeout rate peaked at 40.5 percent on the 23rd of June, he got it all the way down to 12.2 percent by August 5th. August wound up being his best month at the plate in OPS (.877), batting average (.316) and total bases (45). He has proven the capability to bounce back.

No slump is the same, but Atlanta will be hoping for a similar comeback.


Published
Josh Wilson

JOSH WILSON

Josh Wilson is the News Director of the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Before joining the SI team in 2024, Josh worked for FanSided in a variety of roles, most recently as Senior Managing Editor of the brand’s flagship site. He has also served as a general manager of Sportscasting, the sports arm of a startup sports media company, where he oversaw the site’s editorial and business strategy. Josh has a Bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the State University of New York at Cortland and a Master’s degree in accountancy from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois. Josh loves a good nonfiction book and enjoys learning and practicing Polish. He lives in Chicago but was raised in Upstate NY. He spent most of his life in the Northeast and briefly lived in Poland where he ate an unhealthy amount of pastries for six months.