May 26, 2024


The Braves garnered numerous praises during the All MLB Show on Saturday night. Not only did Ronald Acuña Jr. win the National League Hank Aaron Award, but the team also saw three players being honored on the All MLB First Team and two on the All MLB Second Team.

Yet, the most intriguing moment of the evening was provided by the show’s host, comedian Roy Wood Jr., who revealed the secrets behind how the league’s fastest players successfully steal bases.

Roy Wood Jr. explains why he quit The Daily Show

The secret to steals? It’s all about the gold

In one of his comedic routines, the comedian noted a connection between the swift players in Major League Baseball and their attire. However, the key factor wasn’t specialized footwear, socks, or arm accessories; rather, it was the presence of gold chains.

Wood Jr. highlighted that players like Ronald Acuña Jr., Esteury Ruiz, Elly De La Cruz, Jazz Chisholm, and Rickey Henderson are known for sporting gold chains. Acuña Jr. and Ruiz lead MLB in steals with an impressive combined total of 140 steals, with Henderson being renowned as the greatest base stealer in history.

In a humorous twist, Wood Jr. jokingly suggested that wearing a gold chain makes a player 11% more aerodynamic. He playfully speculated that if the Atlanta Braves’ standout third baseman, Austin Riley, were to embrace the trend in 2024, it would spell the end for MLB.

The audience, including Riley, shared a good laugh at the notion. However, it’s hinted that Riley might be privy to a secret that Roy Wood Jr. might not be aware of.

Is Austin Riley faster than Ronald Acuña Jr? (Spoiler: technically)

Despite Acuña accumulating 70 more stolen bases than Riley in 2023 (and boasting 175 additional career swipes), Austin Riley was deemed faster than the 2023 NL MVP, as indicated by Baseball Savant. To clarify, Riley exhibited a superior average sprint speed compared to Ronald Acuña Jr.

At a rate of 28.1 feet per second, Riley narrowly surpassed Acuña’s 28.0 feet per second, securing the fifth-fastest position among Braves players in 2023.

Nevertheless, there’s a caveat when it comes to sprint speed. This metric involves taking the best two-thirds of a player’s sprints and averaging them to determine their sprint speed. The intention is to exclude instances where a player’s slow jog on a routine grounder back to the pitcher might skew the results of their faster bursts at 32.0 feet per second.

However, it’s worth noting that if a player, perhaps one being cautious due to a knee injury, has been instructed to take it easy on routine outs, this approach might still include a few groundouts in the calculation of their sprint speed.

Indeed, it appears that this discrepancy stems from specific details. Riley’s home-to-first time was 0.15 seconds slower than Acuña’s, and Acuña boasted 18 instances of “bolts” (defined as any run faster than 30 feet per second), while Riley had none. Consequently, despite Riley technically having a higher average sprint speed, Acuña would likely emerge victorious in a race between the two.

Nevertheless, Braves fans shouldn’t underestimate Austin Riley’s speed. Described as “Young Thick,” Riley is quicker than one might assume, especially when he dons a gold chain. So, while Acuña may have the edge in certain metrics, Riley’s speed should not be overlooked.

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