Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. will miss the rest of the 2021 season after tearing his ACL during Saturday night’s victory over the Marlins. The team made the announcement following the game:
OF Ronald Acuña Jr. underwent an MRI today that showed a complete tear of his right ACL. He will undergo season-ending surgery.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 11, 2021
Acuña suffered the injury while trying to catch a fly ball hit by Marlins shortstop Jazz Chisholm Jr. on the warning track. It resulted in an inside-the-park home run, and Acuña Jr. was carted off the field after initially attempting to walk to the dugout.
2021 has not at all gone according to plan for the Braves, who are 44-44 after being projected by many to win the NL East. This may be the fatal blow for Atlanta, as the 23-year-old Acuña has largely carried them thus far. He was arguably the frontrunner for the NL MVP award, having posted a .283/.394/.596 slash line with 24 homers, 52 RBI, and 17 stolen bases in 82 games.
Put plain and simply, there’s absolutely no way for Atlanta to replace Acuña or replicate his impact. Cristian Pache has struggled both in the majors and Triple-A this year, but he’s the only outfielder on the 40-man roster who is currently not in the major leagues, so he may be recalled to replace Acuña on the major league roster. Other candidates include Drew Waters, who is the No. 25 prospect on MLB Pipeline’s rankings but hasn’t exactly mastered Triple-A pitching, as well as major league veterans Phillip Ervin, Terrance Gore, and Travis Snider.