Two Cleveland Indians have a chance to be the first to hit 30 home runs in a season since 2008
The Cleveland Indians have had a unique relationship with home runs for the past few seasons. Despite having roughly average home run output, they tend to come from a broad coalition of players rather than one individual. As such, no member of the Cleveland Indians has hit 30 or more home runs since Grady Sizemore did so back in 2008. Since then, Carlos Santana has come close a few times, and Asdrubal Cabrera slugged 25 homers five seasons ago.
More from Away Back Gone
- Cleveland Guardians tantalizingly close to locking up AL Central tiebreakers
- Cleveland Guardians: Terry Francona becomes meme in profanity-laced ejection
- Say goodbye to defensive shifts and hello to bigger bases, pitch clock in 2023
- Cleveland Guardians: Shane Bieber second-fastest to 800 strikeouts in major-league history
- The next week will make or break the Cleveland Guardians’ season
Now, two Indians have a chance to end this drought: Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana. Napoli is the more obvious candidate since he already has 26 big flies under his belt. With just around two months left, it seems probable that he could surpass the mark if he can stay healthy. In fact, both Steamer and ZiPS, popular projection algorithms, foresee this outcome.
For Napoli, this would mark a formidable change of fortunes. The righty has long been a source of power, although he has never hit more than 30 home runs in a season, only hitting exactly 30 once in 2011. Then 29 years old, he was at the peak of his game and one of the best hitters in the American League. He put up a few more solid seasons, but the power was never quite the same.
He reached a new low last season with the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers. Over 133 games, he batted just .224 with 18 home runs. While that may not seem too bad in itself, he also walked less and experienced a major drop in his on-base percentage. Instead of being his typically great self, he was slightly worse than average with his bat and base running. It was this decline in skills at the age of 33 that allowed the Cleveland Indians to scoop him up on a relatively cheap contract.
Carlos Santana, like Napoli, is also bouncing back from a down year. While Santana was still a good batter last year, he experienced a considerable drop in power. He hit 19 home runs despite being just one year removed from a 27-home run conquest. Furthermore, less than 30 percent of his batted balls registered as hard contact for the first time in his career.
Now, he has already crushed 23 dingers with just two months to go. As like Napoli, ZiPS and Steamer both see him finishing the year with more than 30 home runs, and he is on pace to hit 32. At the ripe age of 30, he is likely to undergo some form of decline in the coming years, meaning that this might be his last real chance at shattering the 30-home run barrier. This said we could all take a lesson from Mike Napoli’s revival in his age-34 season.
This chase has come at a great time for the Cleveland Indians. They are now division favorites and potentially the team to beat in the American League. The loss of Danny Salazar for a few weeks is sure to slow them down a bit, but the surprisingly good offensive should keep them afloat for the time being. More importantly, the power will hopefully make for a more dramatic and successful October.