We would be doing Ronald Acuna a disservice by talking about him being a great fantasy player, as he is going to be one of the best players in the game over the next decade and more. He is just 22 years old, and has already blossomed into one of the games bright young stars. He was on pace for a 40/40 season and fell just short with 37 stolen bases. Fantasy baseball values Acuna highly, and highly enough to take him over Mike Trout as the number one pick. His 40/40 upside is there again, and we are drafting him for that. Nobody really has that 40/40 upside, mainly because the stolen bases don’t match with Acuna’s power. In rotisserie leagues, Acuna is coming in at number one. Let’s dive into the fantasy value of this young Atlanta Braves star.
Last Two Years Stats
He has been around over the last two seasons so we don’t have the last three in comparison to the rest of the previews. Acuna playing just 111 games drops his rankings a bit, but 67 home runs over 267 games is a very strong number. He also had 165 RBI and 205 runs. If you banked on a 162 game average, he would be in line with 41 home runs, 100 RBI, 32 SB, and 124 runs. Acuna also has a .365 on-base percentage in his career so far, and projects for much of the same this year. This is the start of something special.
2020 Fantasy Projections
Ronald Acuna projects for a monster year, and he should have had a 40/40 season. That is certainly in his range of outcomes again. Acuna also projects for 117 runs 103 RBI and 35 home runs. We are looking at a potential MVP season here. He only has a two year sample size in the majors, but is everything as advertised. Already coming off a Rookie of the Year award and finishing top five in MVP voting, Acuna is the real deal. He led the National League in stolen bases and runs, and now Mookie Betts will give him a threat in the runs department.
Ronald Acuña’s 162-game pace after moving into the leadoff spot: 47 HR, 48 SB, 145 R, 108 RBI
— Chris Towers (@CTowersCBS) January 13, 2020
With two seasons, we can’t necessarily say this 2019 0r 2018 average season is his floor. Looking at individual stats, his OBP should continue to be in the .350-.370 range. He does have a slightly higher strikeout rate, but that isn’t a real knock against him. I could also see that going down a bit this year. He had a double-digit walk rate last season. It is wild to say, but Acuna has a 30/30 floor barring any sort of injury. He is going to continue to have plenty of stolen base potential, and the power is there. Looking at his runs, he hits leadoff in one of the better lineups. I love the floor he brings, and going number one or two overall in fantasy drafts, and paying such a high dollar in auction leagues, you better have a strong floor.
So Acuna was on the cusp of a 40/40 season, and I do believe he gets there this year. Home runs will be a close call, but he projects to be in the upper 30s. Some might depend on what ball MLB decides to use this season. Acuna has 45/45 upside, and the chance to drive in 100+ runs again and produce over 130 runs himself. There are even talks of him going 50/50. It would be crazy to see, but also not a complete surprise, because he is that talented. His ceiling is endless, and he contributes in every category you’d want in fantasy baseball.
There are very few that rival Acuna’s upside, as Mike Trout and Christian Yelich are really the only two who have been around Acuna’s fantasy value. To think this is only his third season and we are taking him potentially number one overall and paying the highest auction price for him. Does he deserve it? Absolutely. His projections stick out like a sore thumb, if having a sore thumb was a good thing. The combination of speed and power is unlike very few. Even for someone with such a high draft pick and auction value, there is potentially another level he could hit. He is a true talent.
Atlanta Braves Offense
Atlanta has been a tremendous offense over the last few years, and this young core is going to be there for a long time. Atlanta averaged over five runs per game last season. This is also a team that isn’t afraid to run, ranking top ten in stolen base attempts as well. Acuna is going to hit leadoff again, where the runs are going to be there, but he has massive power for a leadoff guy. Names like Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, and Marcell Ozuna are all hitting behind him. A doubles and stolen base machine is going to create a ton of run production. Because of his power too, the RBI will be there. The new ballpark played pretty average in terms of park factors. It does play more for left-handed power, but it was league average in runs, home runs, and hits.
Since coming into the league, Acuna has a 47% hard-contact rate, .381 xwOBA, and .555 xSLG. He has not fallen short of those numbers, and everything is backed by these metrics. He barreled up 66 balls last season, which was tied with Mike Trout for second in the league. Acuna does swing and miss at times, where he has over a 25% whiff rate on offspeed, fastballs, and breaking stuff. However, that really isnt holding him back. He upped his line drive and flyball rates from 2018 to 2019, and also began using his opposite field power a bit more.
There is just so much to like about Acuna. His expected stats were all on par or even slightly higher than his 2018 production. He is also going to continue to grow, which is just tremendous. Look for Acuna to be in the top percentiles of most of these stats for years to come.
- 2020 Fantasy Baseball Cheat Sheet
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- MLB Closer Depth Chart
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