“It’s cool,” Ozuna said after his two-homer performance. “We had a lot of success this year, and thank God. To tie the record is good. We wanted to break it, but God (dictated we) only tie it. That’s an amazing season for each guy in this room.”
The Braves entered Sunday’s regular-season finale needing two homers to match the 2019 Twins, and one to tie the 2019 Yankees, who blasted 306 homers. This year’s Braves are one of only three teams – along with the two others mentioned in this paragraph – to launch at least 300 homers in a season.
Through two innings on Sunday, the Braves hadn’t yet hit a homer. In the bottom of the third, Ozuna, who really wanted to reach the 40-homer mark, stepped up to the plate with 38 homers to his name this season.
With two men on base, he pulverized a 432-foot, three-run home run off Jackson Rutledge. The Braves didn’t hit another home run from the fourth through eighth innings. At one point, it seemed the Braves wouldn’t even tie the record because they were up a run heading to the ninth.
Needing three outs, Michael Tonkin allowed three runs. The Nationals took the lead.
But the Braves had another opportunity to hit.
In the bottom of the ninth, Ozuna found himself at the plate.
“God gave me another chance, and I did it,” he said. “I made it.”
With one swing, he hit his 40th homer and tied the record.
“We tied that one?” Braves manager Brian Snitker said after the game, when a reporter asked a question about the record.
Yes, his team tied it.
“Oh, really,” Snitker said. “I’ll be darned.”
It is quite the accomplishment.
“Yeah, I guess,” Snitker said jokingly.
Forgive Snitker if he didn’t know his club had tied the record. The 2023 Braves rewrote the franchise record books while also putting fresh ink on MLB history – both as a team and individually.
The Braves also ended the regular season with a .501 slugging percentage, and are the only team in MLB history to reach that mark. The 2019 Astros, who slugged .495, previously held the record.
The Braves were also the first team in history with four players with at least 35 home runs (Ozuna, Matt Olson, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Austin Riley). They tied the MLB record with five players with at least 30 homers.
Olson set franchise records for home runs (54) and RBI (137). Acuña became the first player in MLB history with a 30-60 season, then created the 40-50, 40-60 and 40-70 clubs.
The Braves set franchise records in runs (947), OPS (.845) and runs per game (5.8). This season, Atlanta led the majors in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, runs and home runs.
Oh, and this is a fun one: Atlanta hit 24 home runs that traveled at least 450 feet, the most by a team in the Statcast era (since 2015).
So, yeah, this team mashed.
The Braves entered this three-game series versus the Nationals needing only four homers to break the Twins’ record. It felt inevitable that they would. For context: The Braves had 20 four-homer games this season. But this was a meaningless series, and Atlanta’s stars didn’t play in the entirety of it.
But Ozuna stepped up. He homered on Saturday, then twice on Sunday.
And in that final inning, the Braves notched one last achievement, just for good measure. Someday, everyone will reflect on this regular season and debate whether it’s the best in franchise history. It won’t soon be forgotten.
But for now, the Braves are looking ahead to the postseason. They want to finish the job.
“It was a good total season,” Olson said. “Won a bunch of games, had some personal achievements on the way. But we’re all back to zero now, and that’s the fun part. We’ve gotta come into the playoffs and play the same caliber of baseball and hopefully continue to move on. We want to be holding the trophy at the end.”