(Atlanta) Ronald Acuna Jr. is not only on his way to joining the select group of 40-40, but he threatens to smash the record that represents this combination of power and speed.

Of the four players in baseball history to hit 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a single season, none has achieved the feat with more than 46 steals. Acuna, however, is maintaining a 41-home run and 77 stolen bases this season.

The Atlanta Braves outfielder could become the first member of the 40-50, 40-60 and even 40-70 groups.

“It would mean a lot to me, just because not many players have managed to accomplish this feat,” Acuna, who is from Venezuela, said. My goals remain the same, which is to stay as healthy as possible and help the team win. »

Acuna’s career-high 23 home runs and 43 stolen bases are big reasons why the Braves (61-31) have the best record in the Majors.

Even after losing two of their last three games to the Chicago White Sox, ending their 11-game winning streak, the Braves lead the Miami Marlins by nine-and-a-half games to first place in the Nationals East Division. to another of Monday’s parties.

Acuna isn’t the only powerhouse in the Braves’ roster, which also includes Matt Olson. The latter leads the National with 30 home runs and 77 RBIs.

Even Olson is impressed with Acuna’s dominance.

“He’s doing things I’ve never seen before,” Olson said. He has all the tools. He works his presence well, he hits balls 500 feet from home plate, he steals bases, he retires opposing players and he plays very well on defense. He does everything. We love having him in our training. »

Acuna has already become the first player in history to hit 20 home runs, steal 40 bases and drive in 50 runs before the All-Star Game break. The outfielder ranks second in the Nationals with a .333 batting average and leads the Majors in runs scored and solid hits.

Perhaps the most impressive thing is the discipline Acuna has shown at bat, even as a hitter attacking the first pitches. Acuna’s number of strikeouts has gone down in every month this season. He was struck out only twice and walked seven in 43 appearances at the plate in July.

“I think he’s going to the plate and keeping it simple, while keeping a clear game plan. He comes in and he executes things, Braves third baseman Austin Riley said. I think it has to be talked about that he keeps it simple, especially in this sport, and that’s what he does. »

Riley has played with Acuna since A level. He says he has always seen the talent and tools in his game. Riley says he sees something different this season as Acuna is determined to enjoy his health and He is fully recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee suffered in 2021.

A healthy Acuna takes every opportunity to run. His 43 stolen bases tied him with Esteury Ruiz of the Oakland Athletics for first in the Majors.

José Canseco of the Athletics hit 42 home runs and stole 40 bases in 1988. Barry Bonds, with the San Francisco Giants, also had a 42-40 season in 1996. Alex Rodriguez had a 42-46 campaign with the Seattle Mariners in 1998 and Alfonso Soriano hit 46 long balls and stole 41 bases for the Washington Nationals in 2006.

Acuna came close to a 40-40 season in 2019, when he hit 41 homers and stopped at 37 stolen bases before being pulled from the lineup with a hip injury late in the season.

Acuna’s knee injury in 2021 kept him out of the Braves’ World Series conquest. While his team is still in good shape for a long playoff run, Acuna expressed that he’s more driven by that goal than his opportunity to make history for his personal stats.

“I think there will always be those conversations,” he said. It’s just because of the data. It’s just not what I focus on. My goal is for the team to win and to help the team win. »