The top of the Cleveland Guardians all time leaders list in home runs has two very distinct feels. When looking at the top five specifically, it has a late 1990s/early 2000s vibe, and then the second portion of the top five goes a little further back in history.
One constant between this list and the Guadians‘ single-season home run leaderboard, though, is Jim Thome. He’s not only among the team-specific all-time home run leaders, but he also holds the franchise’s single-season home run record. Let’s dig into the details of Cleveland’s most consistent sluggers. We’ll first talk about the top five before listing out the remainder of the top 21.
Cleveland Guardians All Time Leaders: Top 5
Jim Thome: 337 Home Runs
We’ve talked about Thome’s powerful tenure in Cleveland quite a bit. It was covered in not only our team-specific all-time and single-season articles, but his 612 dingers are among the most home runs all time, as well. Within these articles, we’ve discussed his 2001 and 2002 campaigns, which are among the most in Guardians history. One we haven’t really touched on? His 1997 performance. This was Thome’s first of six seasons of 40-plus homers, and his sixth-place finish in AL MVP voting was the highest he’d get while with Cleveland.
Thome had already produced three seasons of 20-plus homers at this point in his career, and he was fresh off slugging 38 dingers in 1996. But in 1997, he posted an OPS greater than 1.000 for the second straight year thanks to a .286/.423/.579 line to go along with those 40 dingers, 102 RBI, and 104 runs scored. What’s interesting about this particular season is that Thome hit five or fewer homers in four of the six months he played.
The two times he went above that number? That’d be June when he hit 12 dingers, and then August, when he added another nine.
Albert Belle: 242 Home Runs
Albert Belle spent eight of his 12 MLB seasons in Cleveland, and my Lord, were they powerful. His first full season came in 1991 as a 24-year-old, and he hit 28 home runs in 496 plate appearances. From 1992 through his last season with the club in 1996, he never hit fewer than 34.
It’s still hard for me to get over just how good he was over his last two seasons in Cleveland. Belle slugged a grand total of 98 homers during this span (which is about 40% of his career total with the Guardians), but the rest of his stats were equally ridiculous. He accumulated 1,346 plate appearances and slashed .314/.406/.655. The right-handed hitter also averaged 49 home runs, 45 doubles, 137 RBI, and 122 runs scored. Belle led the league in homers once (50 in 1995), RBI twice (126 in ’95 and 148 in ’96), and doubles once (52 in ’95). This led to two top-three finishes in MVP voting, two Silver Sluggers, and two All-Star Game appearances.
And, until Thome came along, Belle held franchise records for the most home runs all-time and the most home runs in a single season.
Manny Ramirez: 236 Home Runs
It’s easy to just think about his time with the Boston Red Sox when someone mentions Manny Ramirez. But the work he did in Cleveland before heading to Beantown in free agency was just unreal. I mean, you don’t hit 555 career home runs without a solid foundation, and that’s what he created here.
ManRam enjoyed six seasons with at least 20 home runs for Cleveland. Five of those occasions were 30-plus homer efforts, and two of those were 40-plus homer efforts. What strikes me here is how Ramirez leveled up in his final two years before hitting free agency.
From 1995 through 1998 (once he became a full-time player), Ramirez slashed .310/.398/.570 while averaging 34 homers, 113 RBI, and 96 runs scored. Between 1999 and 2000, his triple slash jumped up to .341/.449/.679 to go along with an average of 41 homers, 144 RBI, and 112 runs scored. This included him leading the league with 165 RBI in 1999.
Earl Averill: 226 Home Runs
Earl Averill spent all but two-and-a-half years of his Hall of Fame career in Cleveland, and he clearly saved his best work for the franchise he suited up for the most often. He posted a .940 OPS in 1,510 games for Cleveland, a .783 OPS in 151 games for the Detroit Tigers, and a .328 OPS in just eight games for the Boston Braves.
Averill’s Guardians tenure included three seasons of 30-plus homers, which all came in a four-year span (32 in 1931 and 1932, along with 31 in 1934). It is interesting to see a player with just 238 total home runs produce a career slugging percentage of .534, but it helps when those dingers are accompanied by 401 doubles and 128 triples. Averill collected at least 33 doubles in each of his first nine seasons, while he logged 10-plus triples eight different times.
Hal Trosky, Carlos Santana: 216 Home Runs
Trosky played for Cleveland between his age-20 and age-28 seasons, tallying at least 30 homers three times. His most impressive performance was in 1936 when he racked up 216 total hits. Trosky slashed .343/.382/.644 in 671 plate appearances, which was accompanied by 42 home runs, 45 doubles, 162 RBI, and 124 runs scored. July was easily his most impressive month, as he hit .403/.434/.736 with 11 homers and 45 RBI over just 153 trips to the plate.
While Santana was an unlikely candidate to hit an inside-the-park home run, he obviously collected plenty of the traditional round-trippers during his time with the Guardians. He enjoyed six seasons of 20-plus homers and hit a career-high of 34 two different times. His best overall performance in Cleveland when using OPS as the measuring stick? That’d be 2019 when he returned to the franchise after a one-year hiatus in Philadelphia with the Phillies. This was one of his 34-homer performances, and he paired it with career highs in RBI (93) and OPS (.911).
Cleveland Guardians All Time Leaders: The Rest
Here’s what the rest of the top-21 all-time home run leaders in Guardians history looks like:
- Larry Doby: 215 home runs
- Andre Thornton: 214
- Travis Hafner: 200
- Al Rosen: 192
- Rocky Colavito: 190
- Jose Ramirez: 186 (…and counting)
- Ken Keltner: 163
- Joe Carter: 151
- Grady Sizemore: 139
- Francisco Lindor: 138
- Woodie Held: 130
- Jason Kipnis: 123
- Jeff Heath: 122
- Brook Jacoby: 120
- Casey Blake: 116
Get all the details of the sluggers on the outside of this list looking in on FanGraphs.