The Braves had one of the game’s greatest home run hitters ever suit up for them. While he’s easily at the top of the franchise’s all-time home run list and he’s among the Atlanta Braves home run leaders for a single season, he’s not the king.
Only one player has eclipsed 50 home runs in a single year for Atlanta. Let’s check out the leaderboard below.
Atlanta Braves Home Run Leaders: Top 5
Andruw Jones: 51 Home Runs in 2005
Quick, when you hear the name Andruw Jones, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
If you said fantastic defense, then you most certainly wouldn’t be alone. After all, Jones consistently provided Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field during his 12-year stint in Atlanta with the Braves. Next to all those Gold Glove awards is also the one Silver Slugger he won, which came in 2005. He almost added an MVP award to his mantle but settled for a second-place finish.
If we look at his monthly splits, you wouldn’t have thought he’d finish with 51 dingers and 128 RBI after the slow start he encountered. Entering May, he had just three home runs and a .712 OPS. From then on, he didn’t hit fewer than seven in any month, reaching double digits twice. The outfielder’s 7.9 fWAR in 2005 ended up being the eighth time he registered at least 5.0 fWAR in a season over a nine-year span.
Eddie Mathews: 47 Home Runs in 1953
As we’ll soon see, Eddie Mathews is on this list twice, and on both occasions, he led the league in homers. Mathews accomplished this in just his second big-league season as a 21-year-old. It’s also the most ever in a season by a Braves third baseman. He was fresh off finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting after posting a .767 OPS with 25 homers and 58 RBI in 145 games played. Those numbers all increased dramatically in 157 games played the following year, jumping to 1.033, 47, and 135, respectively.
Mathews finished second in MVP voting that year to Roy Campanella, but he did reach his first of 12 All-Star Games. The 1953 season was the first of a three-year stretch in which Mathews slugged at least 40 homers in a season. He’d reach that benchmark one more time in his career, which we’ll talk about in a minute.
Hank Aaron: 47 Home Runs in 1971
Hank Aaron led baseball in home runs four times during his Hall of Fame career, but he didn’t lead the league in that category when he hit a single-season career-high 47 dingers in 1971. Baseball is a funny game that way, isn’t it?
It was the sixth (and second-to-last) time Hammerin’ Hank would slug at least 40 taters in one season, and he accomplished this career-high mark in his age-37 campaign, which is astounding to think about. A lot has been said about Aaron’s consistency over the years, and it was on full display in this particular season. In the first half, he hit 24 home runs with a 1.038 OPS, followed by 23 homers and 1.129 OPS in the second half. If we look at what he did from month to month, he never hit fewer than seven or more than nine dingers.
Eddie Mathews: 46 Home Runs in 1959
It had been four years since the last time Mathews slugged at least 40 homers in a season, but it’s not like he encountered a power outage during that time. He hit at least 30 dingers in each of those campaigns, and starting with his 1953 performance, Mathews slugged no fewer than 30 homers for nine straight years. In fact, he debuted as a 20-year-old and didn’t finish with fewer than 20 homers in a year until his age-34 season in 1966 when he hit 16.
Mathews never won an MVP award, and 1959 was the last time he came as close as possible. He finished second again, but this time to Ernie Banks. His monthly OPS never dipped below .910 and he finished with an OPS higher than 1.000 in three different months. Two of those occasions happened over the final three months of the regular season, and he finished with a flourish. His 11 homers and 25 RBI were the most of any month during that campaign.
Hank Aaron: 45 Home Runs in 1962
This was yet another time when Aaron blasted a bunch of home runs and didn’t lead the league in the category, but he still put together a great overall season. In 667 plate appearances, the right-handed slugger slashed .323/.390/.618 with those 45 home runs, 128 RBI, and 127 runs scored.
It wasn’t trending this way after the first month of the season, though. Aaron played in 18 April games and struggled to a .699 OPS with just two homers and six RBI. He bounced back by posting an OPS of at least 1.000 in each of the next three months and never hit fewer than seven homers in a month through the end of the year.
Atlanta Braves Home Run Leaders: The Rest
Here’s what the rest of Atlanta’s top-21 most powerful single-season performances looks like:
- Chipper Jones, 1999: 45 home runs
- Hank Aaron, ’57, ’63, ’66, ’69: 44
- Dale Murphy, 1987: 44
- Andres Galarraga, 1998: 44
- Davey Johnson, 1973: 43
- Darrell Evans, 1973: 41
- Eddie Mathews, 1955: 41
- Andruw Jones, 2006: 41
- Ronald Acuña Jr., 2019: 41
- Jeff Burroughs, 1977: 41
- Eddie Mathews, 1954: 40
- Hank Aaron, 1960: 40
- David Justice, 1993: 40
If you’re curious about the hitters who are on the outside looking in, check out the full list on FanGraphs.