The game inside the game is always an intriguing subplot as Juan Soto and Ronald Acuña Jr. are competing for the NL Rookie of the Year award. Before yesterday’s game they embraced during workouts. The Washington Nationals teenage phenom is setting records and joining new clubs it seems weekly. Last night, Soto jacked his 20th home run of the season and became the 3rd teenager in the 20 home run club. Soto joins teammate Bryce Harper who hit 22 home runs as a teenager in 2012 and Tony Conigliaro who holds the teenage record with 24 home runs in 1964. With last night’s home run, Soto added to his record of 15 road home runs as a teenager. Ronald Acuña isn’t setting records as a 20 year old, however he is still a rookie doing amazing things and he was a home run shy of hitting for a cycle last night.
“[Acuña] is really impressive in what he [does],” Soto said. “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.”
Fun is what the game of baseball is supposed to be all about especially for Juan Soto who could be a senior in High School right now instead of playing baseball as his job. We could not find any Acuña quotes about Soto but here is what he said about himself after the game.
“I just went out there with the same approach I always do,” Acuña said. “I just wanted to have fun on the field and have good at-bats.”
Bryce Harper who has lobbied for “Make Baseball Fun Again” should be happy as the youngsters are making baseball fun while being unhappy when a competitor plays well against his team. It was Harper who had a hard time getting back to the wall on a ball that Acuña hit off the outfield wall in front of Harper. As Casey Stengel once said, “Good pitching beats good hitting” and the Nationals pitchers did not “pitch good” against Acuña as his lead-off double off Max Scherzer was described as a ‘cement mixer’ by the Braves TV crew.
If you want to track Soto vs. Acuña statistics, this website has a side-by-side comparison of their accomplishments.
For today’s game, Jeremy Hellickson returns to action after he had a slip and fall accident hurting his wrist defending a play a month ago that landed him on the DL. The Braves will pitch Julio Teheran who is one of Bryce Harper‘s favorite opposing pitchers as he has 8 career home runs off of Teheran which is the most Harper has hit off of any one pitcher of totalling nearly 5% of his career total of 183 taters.
Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves
Stadium: SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Georgia
1st Pitch: 1:05 pm EDT
TV: FOX national broadcast; MLB App out-of-market
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan and via the MLB app
Line-ups subject to change without notice:
- Adam Eaton RF
- Trea Turner SS
- Bryce Harper CF
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Juan Soto LF
- Mark Reynolds 1B
- Wilmer Difo 2B
- Spencer Kieboom C
- Jeremy Hellickson RHP