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Braves pull Acuña Jr. versus Dodgers for Surprising Effort Issue

Dodgers had similar incident with Cody Bellinger in 2018

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.

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.

Written by Clint Evans

Clint lives in Ohio, and played collegiate baseball. He loves the Dodgers due to his first memories of Chavez Ravine when he was nine years old. The voice of Vin Scully has been a staple in his life since he was a kid. No amount of baseball talk is ever enough, and he wishes the regular season was year round. He has written about baseball online since 2007.

6 Comments

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  1. Snitker did what any great manager would do. He showed that he leads the team, not a player. Acuña’s actions were uncharacteristic of him so Snitker needed to put a stop to it now so that it doesn’t continue in to something worse later in the season or his career. More managers should follow Snitker’s lead.

    Also, Ortega did not replace Acuña. Duvall did. This game was Ortega’s first start in the five games he has played for ATL.

    • Acuña is probably one of my favorite non-Dodgers in the entire sport. It seems like every time I turn the guy on tv, he does something that makes me say ‘wow’. I would put him in that category alone with Mike Trout, and Cody Bellinger. He’s going to be a great one for a long time.

  2. Cody is the perfect example of why you should hustle every play. He has beaten out numerous double play attempts. That is huge. Preventing an out has a snowball effect. One more baserunner. A possible run that may not have been. Especially if the double play would have been the third out. More pitches from the opposing pitcher. Get the pitch count up. The possibility of a hit goes up with a man held on base. Now, with Acuna, he should have made it to second. Well–easy peasy here. A single from the next hitter could drive in 2 (especially with Acuna’s speed). With him on first, you need another single. AND with less than 2 outs, the double play is in order and more likely. Hustle wins a lot of games. Just ask Pete Rose. I never liked him, but he had 40 doubles most years in his prime. And many were long singles for other batters. Now back to Cody. Some of his plays in the outfield this year were made by pure hustle. Sure, he is fast, but the extra effort wins games.

  3. Absolutely a player should be benched for not hustling, if you look at someone like Bellinger who had to learn that lesson he has the highest number of infield singles i think a lot of that goes back to the lesson hearned from getting benched from lack of hustle, he beats out a lot of should be double plays, I’m positive when a player gets benched for this reason is fully aware and gains a new respect for their manager. So yes always they need to be reminded they made it to the majors, probably due to their hustle not just ability and that it can be taken away stop bad habits before they get worse.

  4. Let’s not forget the hustle Bellinger and more recently Pederson have shown on defense throwing out a runner at first from right field. What should have been a single got turned into an embarrassing out for that runner!

  5. I don’t know what’s surprising about it, he’s a dark skinned foreign player there’s always problems like this and with some it takes them years to change

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