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Ronald Acuña Jr. Has Only Grown More Powerful Since Marriage

Ronald Acuna Jr. celebrates after hitting a home run.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Since his wedding to his longtime girlfriend Maria Laborde on Thursday, Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. It seems that nuptials have made this man even stronger.

Hours after his marriage, which was hastily organized so that Laborde wouldn't have to leave the United States due to an expired Venezuelan visa, Acuña hit a grand slam to become the first major-league player to record a season with 30 homers and 60 stolen bases. On Friday, he hit another homer. "His second as a married man," Braves play-by-play commentator Brandon Gaudin declared, which admittedly is a very funny way to call a home run. On Saturday, it felt like Gaudin was on to something, because Acuña hit a dinger in his third straight game. This one had an exit velocity of 121.2 mph, the hardest-hit ball of the season. The entirety of this torrid streak came at the expense of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost all three games.

When you guess correctly on a 3-0 pitch, that can happen. It's a relief that Acuña's homer landed away from any fans, because that baseball was screaming—hollering, even. The solo shot was Dodgers pitcher Emmet Sheehan's sole mistake of his four-inning start, even if it felt like it should've counted for more than one run. Across those three games, Acuña went 6-for-13 with three dingers, six RBI, two walks, and two stolen bases. This man exchanged vows with his partner and started hitting like Barry Bonds against the first-place team in the NL West.

Acuña's power on that hardest-hit ball reminded me a bit of Giancarlo Stanton in his prime with Miami. It seemed like every day, the burly outfielder would send a line-drive homer out of Marlins Park. At the beginning of his tenure with the New York Yankees, when he was still healthy and made contact, Stanton could tattoo a baseball, like this homer in 2018 that had an exit velocity of 121.7 mph and caused radio announcer John Sterling to attempt speaking Italian. There are plenty of reasons to admire a home run that is hit high and/or far, but there's also something really satisfying about a ball hit so flush that the broadcast cameras barely have a chance to track it before it's in the stands.

Of course, Acuña's an inarguable superstar whose skillset is more versatile than Stanton's. Clobbering baseballs is just one of his many talents, and the 30-60 season is further proof of this. The NL MVP race is a two-man contest between him and Dodgers star Mookie Betts, who's surged after a hot-hitting August. With the power vested in him by the state of California, though, Acuña is on track to claim that award for himself.

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