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Three Up, Three Down: Ronald Acuna Charges Back Into ROY Race

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Ronald Acuna Jr. (Photo by Tom DiPace)

THREE UP

Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Braves

Just when it looked like Juan Soto was running away with the National League Rookie of the Year Award, Acuna has stormed back into the race. Since coming off the disabled list on June 29, Acuna has hit .305/.377/.642 with 16 homers and 32 RBIs in 50 games. With the surge, the reigning BA Minor League Player of the Year holds the MLB rookie lead in slugging percentage (.570) and OPS (.928) and is tied for first in home runs (21). Soto is just 10 points behind Acuna with a .918 OPS, and the two-man race—with apologies to Brian Anderson (.276, 10 HR), Jack Flaherty (7-6, 2.97) and Walker Buehler (6-4, 2.96)—has every appearance of coming down to the wire.

Miguel Andujar, 3B, Yankees

Speaking of rookies, another one is helping keep the Yankees afloat in the absence of their best player. The Yankees are 18-12 since Aaron Judge went on the disabled list, and Andujar is a huge reason they’ve managed to stay afloat. Since Judge went on the DL on July 27, Andujar leads the Yankees in batting average (.319), home runs (nine) and total bases (73) and is tied for the American League lead in RBIs (31). With his huge month, Andujar is now tied with Acuna for the ML rookie lead in home runs, and overall is now batting .303/.332/.526.

Marwin Gonzalez, OF, Astros

After a season-long slump, Gonzalez has finally started to turn a corner for the Astros. The versatile Venezuelan has broken out with a .349/.411/.698 line this month, including 14 extra-base hits (six doubles, eight home runs) in 22 games. It’s been a particularly opportune breakout given the Astros season-long struggles in left field. Now with Gonzalez hitting, those struggles are no more, and top prospects Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez can continue to marinade in Triple-A.

THREE DOWN

Gio Gonzalez, LHP, Nationals

Gonzalez is a prime candidate to be traded at the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline, but he’s not helping the Nationals chances of getting back anything significant back. Gonzalez is 1-4, 6.84 in five starts this month, with 36 hits and 20 earned runs allowed in 26.1 innings. Already a free agent at the end of this year who was likely going to bring back little to begin with, Gonzalez has fallen apart at the worst possible time for the Nats as they seek to collect assets for the future.

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J.T. Realmuto, C, Marlins

Maybe it’s disappointment from not being moved at the trade deadline. Maybe it’s the grind of a long, losing season. Whatever the reason, August has been a rough month for Realmuto. The standout catcher has hit just .173/.284/.280 this month, including a current 1-for-23 skid. The Marlins have followed the lead of their best player and gone an NL-worst 7-16 in August.

Jose Berrios, RHP, Twins

After a standout first half that resulted in his first All-Star selection, Berrios has hit the skids here in the second half. The young Puerto Rican has a 4.91 ERA in his last six starts, with 37 hits and 16 walks allowed in 29.1 innings. Overall, opponents are batting .306/.396/.455 against him during the stretch. Berrios is still having a breakthrough season and has asserted himself as the Twins' best starting pitcher, but he’s at his career-high with 163.2 innings and how he holds up the rest of the season will bear watching.

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