Juan Soto and Ronald Acuña, Jr. are the presumptive front-runners for the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year award, and they’re getting another chance to go head-to-head one last time in this weekend’s three-game set in SunTrust Park.
Soto started the night on Friday with a .304/.417/.529 line, 22 doubles, 19 homers, 70 walks, 90 strikeouts, 68 runs scored, and 152 wRC+ in 101 games and 430 plate appearances, over which he’s been worth 3.5 fWAR.
Acuña, Jr. came into the series in Atlanta with a .290/.368/.575 line, 24 doubles, 25 homers, 42 walks, 104 Ks, 68 runs scored and 149 wRC+ in 95 games and 418 PAs over which he has been worth 3.8 fWAR.
Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez talked before the game about the race for the NL ROY.
Complete list of teenagers in @MLB history with more HRs than Juan Soto:— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 15, 2018
Tony Conigliaro (24)
Bryce Harper (22) pic.twitter.com/VLqSPInWdk
“You’re talking about two premier young players going at it, and they’re both good players,” Martinez said. “Of course I’m biased to Soto after watching him play all year, every day, and what he does and what he brings to us, I mean, he’s unbelievable, he really is. And I’m sure they can say that about Acuña, but it’s going to interesting, like I said, they’re both having great years and they’re going to be fun to watch for a lot of years.”
“I don’t think I ever have managed (a guy with such energy),” Braves’ manager Brian Snitker told Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Gabriel Burns before the start of the series.
“[Acuña is] special. He’s a special talent.”
Both rookie outfielders brought it once again on Friday night.
Acuña, Jr. doubled to right off Max Scherzer the first time up, but was stranded, and Soto took a walk in the top of the second and scored the first of two runs the Nationals scored against Braves’ righty Kevin Gausman that inning.
Acuña drove two runs in with a bases-loaded, two-out single in the bottom of the second inning, tying things up at 2-2.
With Atlanta up 4-2 after three, Soto hit a first-pitch fastball from Kevin Gausman to center for his 20th home run of the season, making it a 4-3 game before the Nats tied it, 4-4.
Acuña, Jr. answered with a leadoff triple to center with one down in the Braves’ half of the fourth, and scored after a walk to Ozzie Albies when Freddie Freeman hit a sac fly, 5-4.
Soto was 1 for 3 with a walk, a K, and two runs scored after he struck out with runners on the corners and two out in the seventh, and he ended the night 1 for 4.
Clutch.#ChopOn pic.twitter.com/QWPYQ64gPf— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 15, 2018
Acuña, Jr. picked up his fourth hit on a dribbler toward third in his final at bat in the home-half of the eighth, 4 for 5, two runs scored, two RBIs.
Soto finished the night at .303/.417/.534 with 22 doubles, 20 home runs, 71 walks, 91 Ks, 70 runs scored, and 153 wRC+.
Acuña’s four-hit game left him at .297/.374/.586 with 25 doubles, 25 home runs, 42 walks, 105 Ks, 70 runs scored, and 153 wRC+.
“He’s really impressive in what he does,” Soto said of Acuña, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. “I just watch him and have fun with that. I just tell him keep it up and never give up. Everything he does is fun. I keep watching him. He’s amazing.”
“He had some really good at bats, big hit,” Braves’ skipper Brian Snitker said when asked about Acuña’s night.
“I mean, just got us going with a double. The kid is really coming, man, it’s good to see.”
“You’re seeing two premium young players in baseball right now,” Martinez said after the game, “and watching both of them, I don’t like Acuña getting those hits, but you’ve got to appreciate the way they play the game.”
Doing what they’re doing, at their relatively young ages (19 for Soto, 20 for Acuña), and at this level, it’s fairly ridiculous, really. It really is.
“It shows how mature they are that age, it really does,” Martinez said, “and we have another one [Victor Robles] that’s sitting with us right now that’s really good too and he’s going to be really good, so you’re starting to see a trend of young players coming up and showing their talents at a very young.”
So... who’s your pick for the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year?
Juan Soto or Ronald Acuña, Jr.? Who’s your 2018 NL Rookie of the Year?
This poll is closed
Ronald Acuña, Jr.