There are a lot of ways to describe this year's Atlanta Braves. They're the best team in the National League, and perhaps in the majors. They're the safest bet to remain in first place among current division leaders (such is the benefit of having a double-digit lead in early August). And, well, they just might end this season by being crowned as the best home-run-hitting team in MLB history.
The Braves certainly helped their case on Saturday, launching seven combined home runs in a doubleheader against the New York Mets. Atlanta has now hit 225 home runs in the first 116 games of the season. No other MLB team has launched as many as 190 home runs to this point in the year.
With that in mind, let's examine five things worth knowing about the Braves' home-run output and their chances of claiming that aforementioned title.
1. They are blowing away the rest of MLB
As we noted a few sentences ago, the Braves are far and away the most homer-happy team in the majors this season. Here's more data to prove it.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, with 185 home runs, rank second. Those Dodgers are the only other club to clear the 180-home-run threshold. Just two other teams, the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays, have more than 170 home runs.
- Braves, 225
- Dodgers, 185
- Angels, 176
- Rays, 173
- Rangers/Cardinals, 165
2. Already top five in franchise history
Here's a fun fact. The Braves could go the rest of the season without homering a single time, and they would finish with the fifth-most home runs in a single season in franchise history. They have 46 games remaining. That's nuts.
The franchise record of 249 was set in 2019 (more on that particular season in a couple subheads):
- 2019 Braves, 249
- 2022 Braves, 243
- 2021 Braves, 239
- 2003 Braves, 235
- 2023 Braves, 225 (and counting)
Atlanta's lineup came close to toppling that mark last year, but finished with just 243 long balls. We think it's safe to predict that this year's edition of the Braves will get the job done and set a new club record.
3. A near-record pace
As for the contention about these Braves becoming known as the best home-run hitting team in league history, well, it's on the table. Take a look at how Atlanta stacks up versus the five best slugging teams in history:
|HR through 116 games
|Final HR total
As you can see, the Braves have more home runs (in several cases, significantly so) than all but the record-holding 2019 Minnesota Twins. If the Braves somehow continue their current pace, they'll finish with 314 home runs. Obviously the Twins finished short of that despite being on a slightly better pace. Such is the nature of baseball -- even extreme performances regress.
We do think it's worth touching on some very specific context about those 2019 teams, however….
4. It is not the Year of the Home Run
It's important to keep in mind that those 2019 teams had an advantage over the Braves in a certain respect. That's because they played in a friendly home-run-hitting environment. In case you've forgotten, that season inspired a slew of accusations, theories, and studies into whether or not the ball was juiced -- or, in layman's terms, more inclined to travel farther.
. That remains the highest single-season mark in league history. (The 2020 season ranks second, with teams averaging 1.28 home runs per game.) This campaign has so far been the fifth-most home-run-happy season in league history. Teams are averaging 1.19 long balls per game.
Over a full season, the difference between the 2019 and 2023 rates equal 32 additional home runs per team. If the Braves do overtake those Twins, it'll be because of their own merits, and seemingly not because the ball played an outsized role.
5. Homer distribution could tie record
We'd be remiss if we didn't note that the Braves could shatter some other records over the next month and a half, specifically as it pertains to the breadth of their home-run distribution.
Matt Olson entered Sunday leading the Braves with 42 home runs. Atlanta has three other players (Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, and Ronald Acuña Jr.) over the 25-homer threshold, and three others beyond that over 15. Two more have at least 11 home runs, suggesting that the Braves could finish the season with nine players hitting 15 or more blasts this season.
You might be wondering, would that set a record? And what about potentially having four players over 30 home runs -- would that be historic?
Below, we've provided that information in a handy table, as well as our read on whether the Braves stand a chance of threatening to tie or break said records:
|Players with "_" HR
2003 Red Sox/2019 Twins
As you can see, the Braves probably aren't going to best most of those marks -- it's hard to have more than nine players hit 15 or more home runs, as it turns out -- but they do have a chance to tie the records for the most players with at least 15 and at least 35 home runs.
Of course, you can forgive the Braves and their fans if the only number they actually care about with respect to this season is five -- as in, securing their fifth World Series championship.