Atlanta Braves approaching a team milestone for homers

Dansby Swanson #7 of the Atlanta Braves is congratulated by Austin Riley #27 after Swanson hit a two-run home run against the San Francisco Giants. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Dansby Swanson #7 of the Atlanta Braves is congratulated by Austin Riley #27 after Swanson hit a two-run home run against the San Francisco Giants. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

In recent seasons, the Atlanta Braves have been known for being reliant on the home run.  But this year’s team could set a record.

During last night’s victory over the Giants, Atlanta Braves‘ shortstop Dansby Swanson joined the 20-homer club for a second-straight year.

He almost certainly won’t eclipse his 2021 mark of 21 homers, but I think the Braves will be just fine with what he’s doing otherwise.

By reaching that round number, that gives us four Atlanta teammates with 20 home runs on the season.

Good, but only barely noteworthy.  After all, it’s been done 4,233 times to date in the history of the game*.

However, it’s the other guys approaching that level who could make it noteworthy.

* – you’ll just have to trust my numbers here… all of the data came from fangraphs, but the team-by-team-by-season breakdowns came from an ugly Excel spreadsheet hack I worked up.

The Braves Dinger Docket

Let’s see where things stand for Atlanta’s homers ahead of this afternoon’s final West Coast tilt against the Giants:

You might have been able to win a few sucker bets if — back in March — you’d declared that Atlanta would be knocking on the door of first place while Ronald Acuna Jr. (11 homers) and Adam Duvall (12) both failed to reach 20 homers for the entire year.  Yet that’s where we are.

So the surprise here is that the Braves could end up with seven players hitting 20+ homers this year… while Acuna and Duvall weren’t even part of that magnificent seven.

Is Seven a Big Deal?

Short answer:  yes, it is.

In the franchise history of this team, there’s been only one year in which as many as six Braves’ teammates reached 20 homers.

It was the 2003 club… which oddly enough also featured the last Braves’ 20-game winner (Russ Ortiz, who went 21-7).  Kyle Wright notched his 18th victory last night and he could see up to 3 more starts.  But this isn’t about that.

For those 2003 Braves, here’s that longball list:

  • Javy Lopez (43)
  • Gary Sheffield (39)
  • Andruw Jones (36)
  • Chipper Jones (27)
  • Vinny Castilla (22)
  • Marcus Giles (21)

Rafael Furcal was a distant 7th with 15 homers.

So while there are just 3 weeks to go, Michael Harris looks pretty good to reach the 20 plateau.  Our catchers will have a bit of work to do, though, since Ronald Acuna is using some of their PA’s as designated hitter.

But it’s clearly possible… particularly since there are several games remaining against the Nationals in the coming days.

How big a deal, then?

I left off the punchline.  In the history of baseball, there are 12 instances of a team having 7 or more teammates mash 20+ taters in a single season.  Seven.

One of those clubs reached eight.  Here’s the tally (note that all of these events happened since 1996. and all but 5 came within the past 5 seasons):

  • 1996:  Baltimore Orioles
  • 2000:  Toronto Blue Jays
  • 2005:  Texas Rangers
  • 2009:  New York Yankees
  • 2010:  Toronto
  • 2017:  Baltimore
  • 2018:  Los Angeles Dodgers
  • 2019:  Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, Oakland A’s, and the Yankees
  • 2021:  Toronto

In was those 2019 Twins that had 8 members slug 20 homers… a team that included current Brave Eddie Rosario (32).  They also had Ehire Adrianza and former Brave Willians Astudillo, but they only hammered out 5 and 4 homers respectively.

Of course, that 2019 season (clearly) involved the “juiced” baseball.  This season may be a bit better in that way (home run rates fell from 1.3 to 1.1 per 9 innings since last season), so perhaps Atlanta’s feat — if it happens — might restore a bit of luster to this team feat.

The Team Sport Aspect

If you’re curious, Atlanta’s 2022 team is now tied for 5th in franchise history in team homers overall with 215.  Eight more puts them in 4th, passing the 2006 club.

Those 2003 Braves hit 235 homers, and that represents a reachable mark for this season’s club… so 3rd place could be within their grasp.

The leaders?

  • 2019 Atlanta (249)
  • 2021 Atlanta (239)

For the majors, it was those 2019 Twins again:  they hammered 307 long balls to beat out the Yankees — during the same season — by one:  307 to 306.  The 2019 Astros and Dodgers are 3rd and 4th all-time.

Now do you believe those baseballs were juiced?

Our 2019 Braves rank 15th on the All-time/All-teams list.

But about this season… our catchers still have to get to 20… and that’s going to be difficult unless both catchers go on a tear.  I could see one of them doing so, but both?

That scenario with Acuna DH’ing more often would tend to favor d’Arnaud, given his role as primary catcher.  Additionally, d’Arnaud has hit 6 homers in the past month.

Next. Braves slay a few Giants. dark

We’ll see if they can get there.  Grab some more popcorn.