Acuña Gets His Madden Moment

Ronald Acuña Jr. Is the Face of 2024 Topps Series 1

Date: Feb 7, 2024
Topics: 2024 Topps Series 1, Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Baseball, Braves, Jacoby Ellsbury, Julio Rodriguez, MLB, Ronald Acuña Jr., The Hobby
Length: 665 Words
Reading Time: ~4 Minutes

One on, one out, tie game in extra innings. It was a moment seemingly like any other from the MLB season, but the truth was far from that. 

As Cubs right-hander Daniel Palencia let loose a four-seam fastball — 99 miles an hour, up and away, all you could ask for as a catcher trying to catch a base stealer — Ronald Acuña Jr. was already off like a blur. Beating the throw from backstop Yan Gomes handily, he popped up, his previously pristine white jersey caked with infield dirt, and turned triumphantly to his dugout. After saluting the raucous Atlanta crowd, Acuña raised second base above his head, the first-ever MLB player to put together a season with 40 home runs and 70 stolen bases. One pitch later, he circled the bases on an Ozzie Albies single to lock up the win for his Braves.

Acuña is a unanimous National League MVP winner. He’s a three-time All-MLB honoree. As the only 40-70 man in baseball, he’s in a class of his own.

In 2024, he graces the cover of Topps Series 1.

The slugger and speedster earned the honor for the first time in his career, receiving the baton from 2023 cover star Julio Rodriguez. Acuña has been a star since he first entered the Show in 2018, but his groundbreaking 2023 season etched his name into the record books.

And the numbers are worthy of a closer look. If the best ability is availability, start with the fact that Acuña played 159 games and led the NL in plate appearances. That’s especially notable given the scary injury in 2021 that looked like it could have derailed Acuña’s career before it even had a chance to take off. 

An awkward fall while tracking down a fly ball in right field led to a torn ACL in his right knee, and the injury not only ended his 2021 campaign prematurely — one that the Braves finished as World Series champions — but also hampered his 2022. Though he showed flashes of his healthy self and helped the Braves earn 101 wins in 2022, Acuña posted a career-low OPS and looked like he was still finding his feel for the game. It’s safe to say that he found it in 2023. 

This past season, Acuña led the majors in hits, with 271, and total bases, with 383. He slashed .337/.416/.596 for an OPS of 1.012, tops in the NL. And it bears repeating: He is now the sole member of the 40-70 club. If he had only logged 60 steals — or even only 50 — he’d be the only member of those clubs, too! Acuña slugged 41 home runs, which tied a career-high, and stole 73 bags, becoming the first with more than 70 since Jacoby Ellsbury in 2009. Acuña’s individual success also powered team success — the Braves won 104 games to claim their sixth straight NL East division title and finish as the best team in the majors. 

“From the day that I got to the league, I always knew I wanted to win the MVP,” Acuña said through an interpreter after receiving the honor. “It was always a dream of mine, and I’m living a dream come true.”

Acuña plays the game boldly, leveraging his elite bat and turbo speed to wreak havoc on opposing pitchers. It’s fitting, then, that he serves as the face of the bold 2024 Topps Series 1. The neon-inspired design elements on the Series 1 base card pair perfectly with Acuña’s highlighter-yellow batting and baserunning gear. Just as he’s liable to light up the scoreboard on any night, Series 1 displays team names in striking colors atop a gradient black background.   

Acuña and Topps Series 1 is a partnership representing the best of what baseball has to offer. 

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