Atlanta Braves’ 21-year old superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. is in the middle of the NL MVP race. Therefore, props should be given to Braves’ manager Brian Snitker for benching Acuña Jr. on Sunday when he failed to hustle in the middle of the game.
Consider that the Braves were trailing in the final game of a three-game set. Also, Acuña Jr. is probably their best player and biggest difference-maker between the white lines. One wonders how many managers in baseball today would be willing to set the tone this way.
Snitker talked about this a bit following Sunday’s contest, which ended up being a Braves’ win to take the series at Suntrust Park in Atlanta.
Braves manager Brian Snitker on why he benched Ronald Acuna..
Acuna on the conversation with Snit..
— Zach Klein (@ZachKleinWSB) August 18, 2019
Snitker didn’t mix words when asked about why he benched his star. It’s an admirable trait in a manager.
“He didn’t run. You’ve got to run,” Snitker said. “That’s not going to be acceptable here. The name on the front is a lot more important than the name on the back. … You can’t let your teammates down.”
Furthermore, one might recall early in the 2018 season when Dave Roberts benched Cody Bellinger in San Francisco for a similar incident. Since then, Bellinger has shown increased dedication to hustling it seems. It’s key for a young player to learn from the mistake so that it doesn’t become a pattern.
Ironically, the Braves went on to win the game when Acu?a Jr.’s replacement Rafael Ortega hit a grand slam. Finally, Acuña Jr. owned up to the lack of hustle following the game in an admirable way to the media.
What is your feeling on a star player not hustling? Should managers bench said player at first glance – or is hustling on every play in baseball overrated? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below of how you would handle it as a manager.