We continue our journey through some interesting Statcast numbers for the Atlanta Braves with a look a the 10 hardest hit balls of the 2023 season. If you missed it, we looked at the Braves’ 10 longest home runs of the regular season earlier this week.
Unsurprisingly, Ronald Acuña Jr. dominates this list with seven of the 10 hardest hit balls by a Braves’ player this season. What might be surprising is that four of the seven went for outs. If you were wondering why Acuña’s .426 wOBA was so far below his .463 xwOBA, then this is part of it.
Also, Marcell Ozuna didn’t make this list or the longest homers list for the first time since we have been doing these roundups. Ozuna’s hardest hit ball of the season was 115.3 mph which tied him for 12th.
Acuña starts this list with a rocket 115.6 mph that Rangers’ shortstop Ezequiel Duran fields on a hop and throws to first in time for the out.
Our first homer on the list came from Matt Olson and left the bat at 115.9 mph. It was a majestic shot that landed onto the roof of the Chop House in right and came off of a slider from Tony Gonsolin.
Also tied for eighth on the list is this 115.9 mph line out to left by Acuña in Oakland on May 29. Here Acuña turns around a 99 mph fastball from A’s righty Shintaro Fujinami, but it hit right at JJ Bleday, who makes the play. This play was kind of a microcosm of Atlanta’s trip to Oakland where they dropped two of three to the last place A’s.
Instead of hitting another rocket at someone, Acuña hits this one where no one can make a play on it. Most impressive about this shot is where the pitch is. An 80 mph cutter from Cody Bradford that is low and inside that Acuña went down and turned around with a 116.1 mph exit velocity.
Austin Riley’s first entry onto the list is this 116.1 mph double off of Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. Riley would eventually score on a sacrifice fly by Ozzie Albies to give Atlanta a 4-3, walk-off win.
No. 5 on the list is another rocket home run by Acuña that left the bat at 116.3 mph. This one is significant though in that it was his 40th of the season, making him just the fifth player in major league history to join the 40/40 club and the first to ever have a 40 homer and 60 stolen base season.
Some more bad luck for Acuña here who lines a 116.7 mph shot to Jon Berti who makes a nice backhanded grab on the short hop and starts a 6-4-3 double play.
No. 3 on the list is another fly out by Acuña that Nationals outfielder Jacob Young was able to run down in left center with a nice play. This ball left the bat at 117.9 mph and had a launch angle of 15 degrees.
Matt Olson had the Braves’ hardest hit ball for most of the season. This homer into the stands above the home bullpen at Truist Park traveled 448 feet and left the bat at 118.6 mph.
Olson’s ball would stand until September 2 when Acuña launched a 121.2 mph missile at Dodger Stadium for a 454 foot home run to straight away center field. You are going to want to turn your speakers up for this one.
Bonus: Softest base hit of the season
Not only did Ozzie Albies have the distinction of hitting the Braves’ shortest home run of the season, he also recorded their softest hit. This 15.3 mph swinging bunt against Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland probably could have gone as an error, but nevertheless is Atlanta’s softest hit of the season.