Spring 2021 Magazine

Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. thanks God after election to start in his 1st MLB All-Star Game

Before he even completes a full season in the major leagues, Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. will start in the MLB All-Star Game. The 21-year-old reigning National League Rookie of the Year was one of the eight NL starters elected in the first year of the new Starters Election format, in which position players were chosen by fans to start the Midsummer Classic on July 9 in Cleveland.

Acuna, who will be 21 years and 203 days on July 9, will be the youngest Braves player to start an All-Star Game, the third-youngest Braves player to play in an All-Star Game, and the eighth-youngest MLB player to start an All-Star Game.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank God for giving me the opportunity to be in my first All-Star Game,” Acuna told MLB.com. “Hopefully, there will be many more to follow. Thanks to all the fans for their support, to my family and to all my people from Venezuela.”

Acuna edged out three-time All-Star Charlie Blackmon for the third outfield spot, and will join 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich and 2019 NL MVP front-runner Cody Bellinger in the NL All-Star outfield.

Acuna will go into his first All-Star Game as one of baseball’s up-and-coming superstars after winning the Rookie of the Year Award following the tear he went on after last year’s All-Star break. He’s fourth among all MLB players with 38 homers since the 2018 All-Star break, and he ranks seventh with a .944 OPS over that same span.

In 2019, Acuna is hitting .287 with 19 home runs and a .875 OPS in 81 games. Over 111 games in 2018, after making his MLB debut on April 25, he hit .293 with 26 HRs and a .917 OPS.

“The most important thing is to never lose your faith,” Acuna told Sports Spectrum last year. “Just because your faith is what helps maintain you, especially during the tough times that happen on the field and off the field.”

The young phenom credits his faith and relationship with the Lord for guiding him in all aspects of life.

“Every time I take the field or even when I wake up, I have a conversation with God,” he said. “I feel like I always pray to Him and have that relationship and I feel like He listens.”

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