Braves right fielder and NL MVP frontrunner Ronald Acuña Jr. keeps making history in his for-the-ages 2023 season. On Saturday night against the Nationals, he stole his 73rd base, a franchise record:
The modern-day record would be post-1900, as King Kelly swiped 84 bases in 1887 and Billy Hamilton (no, not that one, obviously) stole 83 in 1896. The modern-day, single-season Braves' stolen bases leaderboard:
1. Acuña, 2023: 73 stolen bases
2. Otis Nixon, 1991: 72
3. Hap Myers, 1913: 57
4. Nixon, 1993: 47
5. Rafael Furcal, 2005: 46
Also, Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider joined in on the fun.
He is going to lead the majors in strikeouts this season by a healthy margin. He's also made Braves history. With his third strikeout of the game Saturday night, he moved ahead of John Smoltz on the all-time Braves single-season leaderboard with 277. He ended up striking out seven on Saturday to give him a little cushion.
The top five:
1. Strider, 2023: 281 strikeouts
2. Smoltz, 1996: 276
3. Phil Niekro, 1977: 262
4. Niekro, 1978: 248
5. Smoltz, 1997: 241
Having any Braves pitching record is quite a feather in the cap of said pitcher. This is a storied franchise when it comes to pitching. From Warren Spahn to Phil Niekro to Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz to the current group with Strider and Max Fried, they've long been known for stellar pitching.
The caveat here is that someone could say technically the record belongs to Charlie Buffinton, who struck out 417 in his 587(!) innings of work in 1884 for the Boston ballclub that would eventually be called the Braves. Still, it wasn't the Braves yet, but, most importantly, the pitching distance was only 55 feet, six inches. It was moved back to the current 60 feet, six inches in 1893 and I'm comfortable worrying only about pitching stats that happened after that. The Braves and Major League Baseball appear to agree, as both acknowledged Strider has set a Braves record.
Strider, 24, is finishing his second full season in the majors and deserves a lot of credit for helping to hold this Braves' rotation together in 2023 through a good amount of injury and inconsistency. He'll finish in the top five of NL Cy Young voting and maybe even the top three.
Padres starter Blake Snell is likely to win the NL Cy Young and he's second in the NL this season in strikeouts. Remember, Strider has 277. Snell has 234 going to his scheduled start on Sunday. The AL leader is Kevin Gausman with 237.
As for Acuña, he entered Saturday hitting .336/.414/.595, good for 167 OPS+ and 8.3 WAR. He leads the majors in hits, runs, stolen bases, on-base percentage and total bases.