Superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. made a big impression early in Tuesday’s game against the Oakland Athletics, doing something that hasn’t been done in over a decade.
The A’s scored twice against Acuña’s Atlanta Braves in the top of the first inning. But leading off the bottom of the second, Acuña quickly cut that deficit in half.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) June 7, 2022
The Braves were still trailing 2-1 when Acuña led off the bottom of the third inning. His second at-bat produced a strikingly similar result to his first.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) June 8, 2022
Aside from the tribute to Trae Young, something else stands out about those homers.
These weren’t exactly wall scrapers, going a combined 899 feet. The first blast went 435 feet, while the second went 464. This was the first time in more than a decade that a leadoff man hit two home runs beyond 430 feet in his first two at-bats of the game.
Ronald Acuña Jr. is the first leadoff batter to hit a 430-foot home run in each of his first 2 plate appearances of a game since Hanley Ramirez on Sept. 17, 2008. pic.twitter.com/3fAL3EH3AQ
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 8, 2022
MLB fans heaped praise on Acuña for the pair of bombs that came off of his bat.
put him in cooperstown now or wait until he retires? https://t.co/nbAK6MlmnA
— Phil B (@thephilipbrown) June 8, 2022
— Jake (@Braves4life2280) June 8, 2022
Im old enough to remember when people said Acuña wasn’t an All-Star https://t.co/AKsQNWe1Aw
— DeColdest Debro (@CamLemons_) June 8, 2022
This feels like an oddly specific, random stat, something other observers will quick to point out.
The most baseball statty baseball stat that ever baseball statted. https://t.co/EooeoA764Q
— Geoffrey Nauert (@gknauert) June 8, 2022
— Jacob Lyons (@JacobLyons16) June 8, 2022
To an extent, that’s fair. But we have to consider two things.
One, George W. Bush was still the President of the United States when this happened last. An awful lot of baseball has been played since September of 2008. A full season of baseball is 2,430 regular-season games, after all.
Now, even that may not have been such a big thing in bygone eras. For most of Major League Baseball’s history, leadoff hitters were not known for their immense power. Even when they did hit home runs, they generally landed in the first few rows of seats. A hitter like Acuña batting leadoff would have been unique, and he would have naturally done things that none of the other leadoff men did.
More recently, though, teams have begun to put power hitters at the top of the lineup, increasing their number of plate appearances.
Despite that, nobody in nearly 14 years had done what Acuña accomplished in his first two at-bats on Tuesday. We’d call that an impressive achievement.