Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves waves to the crowd after a 6-5 win against the Chicago Cubs 6-5 in which he recorded his 70th steal of the season at Truist Park on September 27, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
Ronald Acuna’s retirement from Venezuelan baseball lasted a little longer than the 2023 Major League Baseball season.
The Atlanta Braves outfielder, who had the best year of his Major League career in 2023, announced he would return to the Tiburones de La Guaira for the 2023-24 Liga Venezolana Beisbol Profesional season.
Last season, Acuna, who is nicknamed “El Abusador,” declared his retirement from Venezuelan baseball following an incident in the stands on January 25 during a game against the Leones de Caracas. In the fourth inning of the game that night, which was played at Estadio Universitario, the then-home field for the Leones, Acuna homered to right-center field, then took 39 seconds to circle the bases, stopping to gesticulate wildly in celebration front of the Tiburones’ dugout, then making similar gestures in the direction of the stands after rounding third base. Acuna punctuated the home run by dancing in the batter’s box before finally touching the plate.
Following the game, Acuna announced his retirement from Venezuelan baseball in an Instagram post, citing his family being on the receiving end of abusive treatment from the Leones fans after the home run. The post has since been deleted.
Acuna won the 2018 National League Rookie of the Year, and is a leading candidate for the 2023 NL MVP award. In 159 games this past season, Acuna led the NL in plate appearances (735), at-bats (635), OPS (1.012), and OPS+ (168), while leading the Major Leagues in hits (217), stolen bases (73), on-base percentage (.416), and total bases (383).
It’s unknown when Acuna will make his season debut for La Guaira.