Ronald Acuña is pulling away in a fascinating NL MVP race, and he just added another resumé piece that nobody else has: He fought through a hex to hit an imaginary home run off a mascot.
The Phillie Phanatic is one of the most beloved and iconic mascots in Major League Baseball, and he decided to have some fun with the Braves superstar amid a heated division rivalry matchup. The Phanatic worked Acuña to a two-strike count with an incredible behind-the-back pitch, and then tried to place his iconic "hex" on him, which is usually reserved for opposing pitchers.
— Cut4 (@Cut4) September 11, 2023
The Phanatic went into an elaborate windup before "delivering" his pitch underhanded. It's worth noting that the throw was pantomimed; there was no ball at all. But that didn't stop Acuña from "blasting" it into the stands, gesturing emphatically to really rub it in the mascot's face.
Acuña is truly having a season to remember. He's putting up an OPS (on-base plus slugging) above 1.000 for the first time, and he leads the National League in runs, hits, stolen bases and OBP (on-base percentage), among other categories.
With 64 stolen bases, he's five home runs away from the league's first 40/60 (homers/steals) season, and perhaps even 40/70 if he keeps swiping away. A few rule changes have made it easier to steal bases this season, but that shouldn't take away from Acuña's accomplishment.
Back in 2019, he smacked 41 home runs and stole an NL-best 37 bases, so it's been clear for awhile that he's capable of this type of dual-threat greatness. Acuña is set to join an incredibly exclusive club; Alfonso Soriano's 2006 40/40 campaign for the Nationals is the league's most recent, and it was the only one pulled off by a player who was never connected to steroid usage.
The Phillies will need the Phanatic's magic to keep their season rolling; they lead the Chicago Cubs by two games for the NL's top Wild Card spot. The Braves are in great shape with 93 wins already, and they'll hope that Acuña stays hot en route to another ring — which would be an impressive second championship in a three-season span.
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