The hottest hitter in baseball is Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., who became the youngest player in MLB history to go deep in five consecutive games when he hit a leadoff homer against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night as part of a 10-6 Atlanta win.
Acuna would homer again later in the game, giving the 20-year-old rookie eight home runs in his last eight games.
Slugging into Record Books
The barrage has already set records for Acuna, and puts him on the verge or tying or breaking other historic marks. Previously, the only other player under the age of 21 to homer in four straight games was Miguel Cabrera, who did so with the Marlins back in 2004.
Acuna has also led off the last three Braves games with home runs � the first player to do that since Brady Anderson managed to hit four leadoff shots in a row in 1996 � and has tied the Atlanta record of five straight games with a home run, last accomplished by Brian McCann in 2006.
The incredible streak has made an impression on Acuna�s teammates, who are in awe of what the rookie has done over the past week.
�He�s the best leadoff hitter I�ve ever seen,� Braves centerfielder Ender Inciarte told reporters. �He�s the best player I�ve ever seen. Hopefully, he�s going to continue to help us in the long run.�
Acuna came into the year as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and it would be wrong to suggest that he wasn�t producing at all before his current barrage. But a largely forgettable first-year effort turned into a revelation after Braves manager Brian Snitker decided to move Acuna into the leadoff spot after the All-Star break.
In the 24 games since then, Acuna is hitting .358 with 12 home runs.
�It�s been amazing how he�s been a different guy,� Snitker told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. �His eye is like I remember it in spring training. He brings a lot to the game. He�s a middle-of-the-order bat probably, but in the right situation, man it�s nice to have a guy like that leading off.�
Atlanta Poised for Playoff Run
Acuna now has 19 homers and 43 RBI on the year to go with a .288 batting average. Those numbers have put him in the conversation for NL Rookie of the Year, a race that could come down to him and Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto.
But more importantly, Acuna has provided a spark that might propel the Braves to the playoffs. Atlanta currently has a two-game lead on the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East, while the Nationals � the heavy preseason favorites to win the division � are eight games back and struggling to stay in contention.
Bookmakers are starting to believe in Atlanta�s chances. William Hill has the Braves as the 8/11 favorites to win the division, ahead of the Phillies (13/10) and the Nationals (9/1). Atlanta has even started to creep into the World Series discussion, with William Hill currently listing the Braves at 20/1 to win the title. The Boston Red Sox (4/1) and Houston Astros (4/1) remain the co-favorites to claim the World Series crown this season.