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Atlanta Braves OF Ronald Acuña wins NL Rookie of the Year

Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. is the 2018 MLB National League Rookie of the Year.

Acuña, a 20-year-old native of Venezuela, was announced the winner by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Monday. The budding Braves star received 27 of the 30 first-place votes to beat out Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto, who finished second and received two first-place votes.

Other players who received votes were Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler, Miami Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty.

Acuña is the eighth Atlanta Braves player to win the award for the top rookie in the National League. The last to do so was relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel, who took home the honor in 2011. Acuña was an important contributor for a Braves team that outperformed preseason expectations by winning the National League East. Atlanta was defeated by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. Acuña assumed the leadoff role after the MLB All-Star break, batting .293 with 26 home runs and 64 RBIs. The left fielder also posted a .917 OPS.

Acuña’s .552 slugging percentage, minimum 300 plate appearances, was the sixth highest mark ever posted by a player who is 20 years old or younger, according to MLB Network. The five players ahead of the Braves standout include some of the best players in MLB history: Mel Ott (.635 slugging percentage), Alex Rodriguez (.631), Ted Williams (.609), Mike Trout (.564) and Frank Robinson (.558). All of those players are in the Baseball Hall of Fame except for Rodriguez, whose involvement with performance-enhancing drugs may keep him out, and Trout, who is a lock to make it barring major injury during the remainder of his career.

Acuña finished with 144 total points after the voting. Soto has 89, followed by Bueheler (28), Anderson (4) and Flaherty (2).

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