Olson sets Braves' single-season record with 52nd homer

September 17th, 2023

MIAMI -- Imagine breaking a franchise record of the team that you grew up watching. A record that you, as a child, got to see be set.

For Georgia native , that dream -- one seemingly unimaginable -- became a reality on Saturday afternoon at loanDepot park when he put an exclamation mark on what has been an outstanding season -- with 14 games left.

  • Games remaining: at MIA (1), vs. PHI (3), at WSH (4), vs. CHC (3), vs. WSH (3)
  • Standings update: The Braves (96-52) are the top NL division leader, meaning they would receive a first-round bye and face the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 Wild Card in a five-game NL Division Series starting on Oct. 7.

In just his second season with the Braves, the 29-year-old broke the single-season home run record, hitting a game-tying solo homer to lead off the sixth inning against the Marlins. The ball left his bat at a whopping 107.7 mph and soared a Statcast-projected 433 feet to center field. 

“I probably wouldn't have believed you,” Olson said. “We've had a good run here this year. Obviously, a couple games haven’t gone the way we wanted them here, but sometimes hitting is contagious. And I think a lot of these guys have led to [me] having that record. So it'll be something I enjoy.”

Olson’s 52nd homer of the year, which came a mere four days after he tied Andruw Jones’ record (2005) with 51 long balls, enabled the Braves to keep up with a Marlins team fighting for its own postseason berth. It wasn’t enough in the end, though, as Miami pulled ahead in the eighth to defeat Atlanta, 11-5 -- the first NL East team this season to win a series against the Braves.

“I looked at [Olson] and I was just like, 'Wow, me and him were really Braves fans [growing up] and he just broke a Braves record,'” Michael Harris II said. “So hopefully I can do something. I don't think it'll be home runs, but I'll find something to break."

“It's really cool just to go into the Atlanta Braves’ lore,” manager Brian Snitker said. “It's awesome. Couldn't have happened to a better guy.”

Not only has Olson already far-surpassed his previous career high in home runs (39 in 2021) to become the 48th member of the 50-HR club, but the Braves also continue to set a franchise record in team homers with every long ball hit after they broke the previous homer mark at the end of August.

“It's huge,” said Harris, who hit leadoff for the first time this season with Ronald Acuña Jr. dealing with right calf tightness and went yard in the fifth. “I guess it kind of tells you how our season's going and why we have so many wins -- because so many people are contributing in the lineup, and in big ways. A lot of those homers come in big moments and early in the game. So it gives us some space early and puts pressure on a lot of teams.”

The long ball has been one of the keys to the Braves’ superb season, in which they were also the first club to clinch a postseason berth and a division title. After all, Atlanta has over 50 more homers than any other team in the Majors.

Olson is one of five Braves with 30-plus homers this season after Ozzie Albies cranked home run No. 30 in the top of the first inning on Saturday. Atlanta has made much homer history this year, and Albies’ homer helped the Braves tie the 2019 Twins for the most players with 30 home runs in a season.

Those five Braves -- Olson (52), Acuña (37), Austin Riley (36), Marcell Ozuna (34) and Albies (30) -- have more home runs combined (189) than 17 teams.

“That's a pretty cool stat,” Olson said. “I think it's obvious, if you watch us play, that we have the ability to leave the yard. We’ve got a lot of dangerous hitters in there and combine that with good approach. And like I said, when hitting is contagious and you're keeping the line moving, you're gonna see some results.”

As for Olson, who traded a bat and some pictures for the historic home run ball from the Marlins fans who caught it, it’s a moment he’s likely to remember for the rest of his life. And, hopefully, just one of many memorable moments to come in the next few months.

“It gives it a little more meaning, being a Brave and doing it,” Olson said. “Being from the area and [having] a bunch of friends and family who are Braves fans and able to come and watch. So, [it’s a] moment I'm sure I won't forget.”