Acuña Jr. becomes eighth Braves player to win MVP
ATLANTA – The Atlanta Braves congratulate OF Ronald Acuña Jr. on winning the 2023 National League Most Valuable Player award. Acuña Jr. was a unanimous selection, receiving 30 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). He finished with 420 points, 150 more than runner-up Mookie Betts. Two writers in each league city cast ballots before the postseason. Votes were tabulated on a system that rewards 14 points for first place, nine for second, eight for third on down to one point for 10th.
Acuña Jr., 25, wins his first career MVP in his sixth major-league season. His previous career-best finish in MVP balloting was fifth, doing so in 2019. Acuña Jr. is the second Braves player in the last four seasons to win the award, joining 1B Freddie Freeman in 2020. Prior to Freeman, 3B Chipper Jones (1999), 3B Terry Pendleton (1991), OF Dale Murphy (1982, ’83), OF Hank Aaron (1957), 3B Bob Elliott (1947) and 2B Johnny Evers (1914) were the only Braves to be honored with an MVP. The BBWAA has awarded Major League Baseball’s MVP, one in each league, since 1931. When Evers received his recognition, MLB’s official MVP was known as the Chalmers Award.
A four-time All-Star, Acuña Jr. is the third Venezuelan to win the award and the first to do so in the National League. Countryman Jose Altuve won the AL MVP with the Houston Astros in 2017, while Miguel Cabrera took home back-to-back honors in 2012 and 2013 with Detroit.
Acuña Jr. batted .337/.416/.596 over 159 games in 2023, and became the first player in major league history to collect at least 40 home runs and 70 stolen bases in a single season. He ended the year with 41 and 73, respectively, and led all of baseball in runs (149), hits (217), total bases (383), steals, on-base percentage (.416) and multi-hit games (69) for the year. His 1.012 OPS paced the National League.
He is one of seven players in MLB history to collect at least 200 hits, 100 RBI, 145 runs and 40 home runs in a single season, and the first to do so since Joe DiMaggio in 1937. The other six players in baseball history to have such a season – DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Chuck Klein, Hack Wilson and Babe Ruth – are all enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
The 6-foot-0, 205-pounder became the fifth player in MLB history with at least 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a year, joining José Canseco (1988), Barry Bonds (1996), Álex Rodríguez (1998) and Alfonso Soriano (2006). Prior to Acuña Jr., the highest stolen base total among that group was 46, by Rodríguez. Acuña Jr.’s 41 home runs this season were 13 more than any other player in a 70-steal season in baseball history.
Acuña Jr. set a trio of modern-era franchise records this season, which date to 1900. His 149 runs were 18 more than any other player in modern-era franchise annals, while his 73 stolen bases were one more than Otis Nixon tallied in 1991. His 383 total bases on the year broke the mark of Hall-of-Famer Henry Aaron, who tallied 370 total bases in 1963.
He earned three separate NL Player of the Month awards on the year, doing so in April, June and September/October to be the only multi-month winner in the National League this season. He also garnered NL Player of the Week honors for the period ending July 2, and was the highest vote-getter in baseball for the 2023 MLB All-Star Game.
Acuña Jr. was also a Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger recipient this season, the third-such honor of his career, and was recognized by his peers as the Player of the Year and NL Outstanding Player in the 2023 Players Choice Awards.
Acuña Jr. has batted .292/.381/.537 (767-for-2,626) in his six-year career, all of which have been played with Atlanta. This marks the second BBWAA award of his career, after also earning Rookie of the Year honors following his debut season in 2018.