How hot is Ronald Acuña? He’s so hot he hit leadoff home runs in both games of Monday’s doubleheader against the Marlins.
In the first game this afternoon, Acuña led off by working the count 3-1 before drilling a 93 MPH fastball from Pedro López to give the Braves an early 1-0 lead. The Braves would go on to win 9-1. Acuña finished 2-for-3 with two walks, a double, three RBI, and three runs scored along with the homer.
In game two, Acuña jumped on a first-pitch 93 MPH fastball from Merandy Gonzalez to once again put the Braves up by one early.
According to David O’Brien of The Athletic, Acuña is the first player to hit leadoff home runs in both games of a doubleheader since the Orioles’ Brady Anderson on August 21, 1999 against the White Sox.
After his second homer, Acuña carries a .278/.339/.553 batting line along with 17 homers, 38 RBI, and 46 runs scored in 280 plate appearances this season. Juan Soto and Dereck Rodriguez are the frontrunners for the NL Rookie of the Year Award, but Acuña is certainly rising the ranks and could make things interesting by the end of the season.
Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.
Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.
Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”
Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.
Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.