Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez set team records on Sunday with a home run. Both Baez and Acuna are talented young sluggers who should be the face of Major League Baseball for years to come. Both Baez and Acuna are trying to lead their team to the 2018 Major League Baseball playoffs.
Ronald Acuna led off the Braves 5-1 victory over the Pirates on Sunday with a home run, and the blast put his name in the record books. The home was Acuna’s 7th as a leadoff hitter this season which tied him with Marquis Grissom for the most by a Braves player in a single season. Grissom set the mark during the 1997 season.
Acuna also moved into a tie for the second most leadoff home runs by a rookie. He joins Nomar Garciaparra and Hanley Ramirez with 7 blasts. That trio trails Chris Young who hit nine leadoff home runs as a rookie in 2007. Acuna will have a little less than a month to try to match or surpass the record mark.
The fact that Acuna didn’t start the season with the Atlanta Braves makes the seven lead-off blasts even more impressive. The 20-year-old outfielder took over the leadoff role for the Braves on July 20. For the season Acuna has hit 23 total home runs while also sporting a .296 batting average. The slugging outfielder is a top candidate for the Rookie of the Year Award in the National League.
Chicago Cubs superstar Javier Baez got his name in the record books with one big swing of the bat on Sunday afternoon. Baez blasted a solo home run off Phillies ace Aaron Nola to give him 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in on the season. Baez leads the National League with his 100 runs batted in, and his batting average has also climbed to the .300 mark.
Baez joined an elite group of Cubs players who have eclipsed the 30 homers, 100 RBI mark as middle infielders. He joins Rogers Hornsby, Ernie Banks, and Ryne Sandberg as the only four Cubs middle infielders to accomplish this feat. The previous three players have all been enshrined in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
To make the feat even more impressive, Baez is just the fifth Cubs player to reach these numbers before or in their age-25 season. Ernie Banks (1955) and Hall of Famer Ron Santo (1964, 1965) were the last Cubs to do it before this current crop of Cubs sluggers. Baez joins teammates Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo as members of this exclusive club.
Baez has made a huge leap at the plate this season and has turned himself into one of the top hitters in baseball. His previous career highs were 23 home runs and 75 runs batted in, which were both set last season. Baez has propelled the Cubs to the best record in the National League and a five-game lead in the National League Central.