The Atlanta Braves’ record-breaking 2023 regular season was as much about team success as individual accomplishments.
The Braves reached milestones in many offensive categories, leading to 104 wins and their sixth straight NL East title. Expectations are high for the post-season, which for them begins on October 7 in the opener of a best-of-five NLDS against the winner of the Miami Marlins-Philadelphia Phillies Wild Card series.
The Records Are Going, Going, Gone
The Braves’ 307 team home runs broke the previous NL team record of 279 set by Dodgers in 2019 and tied MLB’s single-season homer record.
Achieving the feat was dramatic. In the ninth inning of the regular-season finale against the Washington Nationals, Marcell Ozuna hit Atlanta’s 307th home run of the year, matching the MLB record set by the 2019 Minnesota Twins. Earlier in that game, Ozuna had beaten the team’s 306th of the season.
Seven Braves players hit 20 or more home runs, and five topped the 30 mark. They are:
- Matt Olson, 54
- Ronald Acuña Jr., 41
- Marcell Ozuna, 40
- Austin Riley, 37
- Ozzie Albies, 33
- Eddie Rosario, 21
- Sean Murphy, 21
Olson’s, Acuña’s, and Ozuna’s 40 homers marked just the fourth time a team has had three players hit 40 or more in the same season, matching the 1973 Braves with Hank Aaron, Darrell Evans, and Davey Johnson.
All For One
Individually, the Braves set some lofty single-season standards.
Acuña finished his MVP-caliber season, hitting .337 with 41 home runs, 217 hits, 80 extra-base hits, 106 RBI, 149 runs, a 1.012 OPS, and 84 strikeouts. Acuña’s efficiency is often overlooked due to the gaudy statistics.
He also became the fourth player to have hit at least a .335 with 40 home runs, 215 hits, 80 extra-base hits, 100 RBI, 145 runs, and a 1.000 OPS with fewer than 90 strikeouts. The others were Lou Gehrig in 1927, Chuck Klein in 1930, and Joe DiMaggio in 1937. It has been a generation since such standards have been reached.
Acuña also set a franchise record with 73 stolen bases and became the first MLB player to have a 40-70 season (40 homers and 70 steals).
Another MVP contender was Olson, who set a Braves’ record with his MLB-best 54 home runs and set the franchise’s modern-era RBI record with 139.
In addition, the Braves:
- Set an MLB record for highest team slugging percentage (total bases per at-bat) at .501 and
- Matched a franchise RBI standard with four players having 100 or more RBI. Note that runs batted in became an official statistic in 1920. In addition to Olson’s 139, Albies added 109, Acuña had 106 and Ozuna tallied 100. That matched the efforts of Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Javy Lopez, and Gary Sheffield, each of whom drove in at least 100 runs in 2003.
While the offense overshadowed the pitching staff’s collective effort, Spencer Strider set the club’s modern-era single-season strikeout record with 281 while putting up a 20-win season.
Strider, a reliever for the first two months of the 2022 season, had 44 more strikeouts than any other MLB pitcher this season.
The 2023 MLB season will be remembered for implementing a pitch clock and larger bases. Still, the overriding memory will be the Atlanta Braves crushing baseballs at a record pace.
And now, the question is: will the Braves’ firepower continue through the post-season? Expectations are high, but the Braves put together a memorable regular season regardless of the next phase.
Main Photo Credits: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports