Ronald Acuna Jr disappoints in Atlanta Braves elimination and avoids media interviews

The heavy favourite for National League MVP didn’t have his best series against the Phillies

 

 

 

Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. reacts after flying out with bases loaded during the seventh inning of Game 4 of a baseball NL Division Series against the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023, in Philadelphia.

 

 

However, one of the most notable moments after the loss was the reaction of Ronald Acuna Jr., the team’s talented outfielder who disappointed in this series and left without speaking to the media.

 

 

After the series, as usual, several reporters waited anxiously to interview the players and get their impressions of the elimination.

 

 

 

However, it came as a surprise to many when Acuna Jr., one of the Braves’ most prominent faces and a frontrunner to win the National League Most Valuable Player award, opted not to speak to the press.

 

 

 

 

MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported that Acuna Jr. walked straight back to the team bus without offering any statements or impressions of the loss. This was in stark contrast to the habit of many athletes to face the media, both in victories and defeats.

 

Acuna disappointed against the Phillies

Acuna Jr.’s decision to remain silent may have been driven by frustration and disappointment over the elimination, where he came up short. His performance against the Phillies was disappointing for Atlanta fans, as the team’s star was unable to live up to his tag in those decisive games.

 

 

 

 

During the four-game series, Acuna posted a .143 batting average. Despite scoring three runs and stealing two bases, he failed to produce runs with the bat and went 14-2. This lack of offensive production was especially painful for a team that expected so much from its leader in the field.

 

Acuna’s underperformance in the series highlighted how baseball is a sport full of ups and downs and that even the best players can face tough times at the most critical moments. Despite this disappointment, the Venezuelan has a bright future and remains a key pillar in the team’s success.

 

 

 

 

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When pinch-hitter Vaughn Grissom struck out to end Thursday night’s NLDS Game 4 between the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies, it signaled the end of this season’s Division Series — and confirmed that Major League Baseball’s three best regular-season teams would not advance past the first round.

 

 

Despite a combined 305 wins during the 2023 regular season, the Braves, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Los Angeles Dodgers combined to win only one Division Series game. The Orioles and Dodgers were swept out of the postseason, each losing 3-0 in best-of-five series to the Texas Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks respectively. The Braves beat the Phillies in Game 2 in Atlanta before dropping the final two games on the road.

 

 

The surprising defeats have seen many wonder whether MLB’s revised playoff format does the league’s best teams a disservice. There exists a resentment over this format as some of baseball’s biggest stars — such as Mookie Betts, Adley Rutschman, and Ronald Acuña Jr. — head home early for the winter.

 

Is rest a factor?

MLB changed its playoff format before the 2022 season. Under the current rules, 12 teams get in the postseason — the six division winners, as well as three wild-card teams from the National League and three more from the American League.

 

The changes give two division winners from each league several days of rest between the end of the regular season and the start of the Division Series. The third-place division winner and the three wild-card teams are seeded based on their regular-season win-loss record — and these teams play best-of-three wild-card series while the division winners with better records wait for those series to conclude.

 

This has been viewed as a prime reason why the most successful teams across the 162-game regular-season schedule quickly flame out in the playoffs. The thinking goes that the five-day gap between games throws those teams out of rhythm — especially their hitters — and by the time they recover, it is too late.

 

 

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred defended the format, only in its second season, and claimed there were “other explanations” for why teams like the Braves and Dodgers — winners of 104 and 100 games, respectively — saw their seasons end far earlier than expected.

 

“I’m sort of the view you need to give something a chance to work out,” Manfred said via ESPN. “I know some of the higher-seeded teams didn’t win. I think if you think about where some of those teams were, there are other explanations than a five-day layoff.”

 

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Unpredictability reigns as blue-bloods swatted aside

The nature of a 162-game season means there will be points in the year — sometimes several — where even a top team suffers a losing streak.

 

Sometimes, hitters will slump for weeks at a time. Pitchers will seemingly forget how to throw strikes for a couple starts here and there. And while it is generally true that the cream rises to the top at the end of such a long season, no team is immune from an ill-timed sweep — especially when the Division Series run no longer than five games.

 

This is the second consecutive season in which the Braves and Dodgers have each won 100-plus games — and the second year running that the pair of juggernauts have been eliminated before the National League Championship Series. And even before this latest format change, the MLB postseason has long been lauded for its unpredictability relative to the NFL or NBA playoffs — the last time a team with the best record in baseball won the World Series after a full 162-game season was in 2018, when the Boston Red Sox won it all.

 

Nevertheless, Manfred did not close the door to another playoff format tweak in the future — and pressure might mount on the commissioner if the league’s top regular-season clubs complain about not getting their perceived “fair shot.”

 

“I think we’ll reevaluate in the offseason like we always do and think about if we have the format right,” he told ESPN.

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