Ronald Acuña is on his own level right now and his legend grows by the day. It seems the only thing that can stop him is injury and it was hearts-in-throats time late Sunday when he left the Braves' rout over the Cubs with an abdominal issue. An MRI revealed only a mild strain and the most productive player in all of baseball is day-to-day, meaning he'll be back raking and running at the highest levels in no time.
Much ink has been spilled chronicling Acuña's exploits and much excitement has been shared in trying to anticipate what he'll do next. In the big picture, it appears quite clear. He could take aim at the uber-exclusive 40-40 club, which hasn't welcomed a new member since 2006 when Alfonso Soriano joined.
Acuña came oh-so-close to breaking through the barrier two years ago at the young age of 21. He smacked 41 longballs and swiped 37 bags, three short of immortality. His career pace puts him at 43 homers and 32 steals over any given 162-game stretch — a true testament to how ferocious his production has been out of the gate.
Through 16 games this campaign he's gone deep seven times and succeeded in all three of his daredevil dashes. Assuming this current detour isn't serious and is located in the upper body, he should continue trying to steal with some regularity. It is very possible that a full season of good health yields one of those precious 40-40 stat lines.
And that would be great. Because the 40-40 club was immediately one of the coolest things in sports when it debuted with Jose Canseco in 1988. It was still cool when Barry Bonds accomplished the feat in 1996 and when Alex Rodriguez did the same in 1998. It comes with tremendously successful branding and some tangible delineation of a player's greatness.
It takes speed. It takes power. It takes them working in unison. The more extra-base hits a player gets, the fewer chances they have to amass steals. It's a delicate balance. A season-long unicorn — not unlike averaging a triple-double for an entire year in basketball, which ironically seems more possible now than ever before post-Russell Westbrook.
The 40-40 accomplishment is like a plaque or a certificate confirming that yeah, your eyes didn't deceive you. It was a special performance combining two skill sets often diametrically opposed. It is an old-school metric distilling a five-pool player into a single sentence.
A player who can run fast and hit bombs.
There is no higher honor than to be recognized as belonging in that stratosphere.