DENVER -- The Braves can spend the next month attempting to prove they are the best home run-hitting team baseball has ever seen. But with 30 games still remaining, they can take great pride in having already posted the highest homer total in franchise history.
“That’s pretty special,” Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. “Everybody is so good with their approach and staying within themselves. Fortunately, we’re rewarded with home runs. It’s fun to be a part of.”
Marcell Ozuna, Kevin Pillar and Arcia all homered to back Darius Vines, who allowed just two runs over six innings in his MLB debut. Vines became the first visiting pitcher to allow two runs or less while tossing at least six innings while debuting in the offensively friendly stadium.
“This lineup is ridiculous,” said Vines, who ranks as the Braves No. 10 prospect per MLB Pipeline.
Debuting in Denver might not be an easy assignment, but the challenge becomes less stressful when backed with Atlanta’s great lineup. The Braves MLB-leading 250 homers are 40-plus more than any other club. They are on pace to hit 306 (306.8 to be precise) homers, which one short of the MLB record set by the 2019 Twins.
This year’s Braves broke the franchise record set in 2019, when Ronald Acuña Jr., Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson all hit at least 37 home runs. The 2022 club now ranks third in franchise history with 243 homers.
“We’ve been a team that slugs,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s how we’re constructed, and the guys do it.”
Matt Olson (43), Ozuna (31) and Austin Riley (31) have all reached the 30-homer mark. Acuña (29) and Ozzie Albies (28) could soon join them. If so, the Braves would join the 2019 Twins as the only teams to have five players reach 30-plus homers in the same season.
Eddie Rosario was one of those Twins. As he and Sean Murphy currently sit on 20 homers, either one of them could help the Braves become the first team to ever have six players with 30-plus homers.
One of this year’s biggest surprises has been Ozuna, who followed two rough seasons with a miserable April. But the veteran slugger has been roaring over the past four months. He has 29 homers since the start of May. The only players who entered Wednesday with more during this span were Shohei Ohtani, Olson, Kyle Schwarber, Mookie Betts, Luis Robert Jr. and Jorge Soler.
“What he’s been doing, being so consistent right in the middle of the lineup, day in and day out, has been great,” Snitker said. “At any point in time, he can get you one on the board real quick.”
It’s not just the expected sluggers. There was thought this Braves team would hit some home runs. But as Arcia had to compete for the starting shortstop job in Spring Training, nobody was expecting he was going to flirt with a 20-homer season. But that homer that broke the franchise record also broke his previous career high homer total.
Arcia’s career-high 16 homers positions him to be one of eight Braves to hit 20-plus homers this year. A franchise-high seven players have already reached that mark. If Arcia or at least one more Atlanta player joins that 20-homer club this year, the Braves will join the 2019 Twins as the only teams to have eight players reach this mark in the same season.
“I looked up [saw Arcia’s stats on the video board] and was thinking, “God Almighty, if you’d have told me in Spring Training that I’d be looking up on the first of September and seeing that line right there, I’d be like, man, that’s pretty good,” Snitker said.
As the right-handed hitting portion of the left-field platoon, Pillar hasn’t tallied an abundance of at-bats. But he also has supplied regular power. His third-inning homer off Kyle Freeland was one of seven he has hit in 152 at-bats. That equates to a homer every 21.7 at-bats.
d’Arnaud has homered nine times or once every 23 at-bats while serving as the backup catcher. Even when the reserves are playing, this is a lineup that is dangerous from top to bottom.