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Cleveland Indians hitting more home runs than they have in years

Through 69 games, Santana and Napoli are each on pace to hit 35 home runs. Nice.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Indians hit three home runs during Monday's victory over Tampa Bay. It's the eleventh time they've hit three home runs in a game this season, matching their total for 2015, and more than doubling their total from 2014. The Indians have hit 83 home runs as a team so far this season, an average of 1.20 per game. The last time the Tribe averaged that many home runs per game for a full season was 2006.

Thirteen different players have homered so far for the Indians, but the lion's share of those long balls belong to Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana, who have each hit 15 home runs so far. Most baseball fans are familiar with the idea of being on pace for X number of this or that; hitting 15 home runs during the team's first 69 games puts Napoli and Santana on pace for 35 home runs each. The Indians haven't had anyone hit that many since Travis Hafner hit 42 home runs a full decade ago in 2006. The Indians have only had two players both hit that many in the same season three times in franchise history: Jim Thome and Albert Belle in 1996, Thome and Manny Ramirez in 2000, and Thome and Juan Gonzalez in 2001

Most baseball fans also understand that when a player is on pace for an impressive total, but the season isn't even halfway through yet, regression means the player will fall short of that pace more often than not. Fortunately, 35 home runs isn't the number Indians fans have been clamoring for; the magic number is 30, because no one on the Tribe has hit even that many since Grady Sizemore in 2008. In the seven seasons since then, the highest single-season total for anyone on the team has been 27, by Santana in both 2011 and 2014.

Being ahead of that pace so far means that even with some regression, Napoli and/or Santana could reach 30. They would need to hit another 15 home runs during the team's final 93 games, which works to the pace needed for 26 home runs over a full season.

Napoli and Santana mark the 40th and 41st times in franchise history someone has hit 15+ home runs during the team's first 69 games. Jim Thome did it six times. Hal Trosky and Albert Belle did it four times (but Belle did not do it in 1995, the year he hit 50 home runs). Manny Ramirez did it three times. Joe Carter, Rocky Colavito, David Justice, Ken Keltner, and Al Rosen did it twice. Ellis Burks, Larry Doby, Luke Easter, Juan Gonzalez, Joe Gordon, Travis Hafner, George Hendrick, Grady Sizemore, Cory Snyder, Andre Thornton, Vic Wertz, and Leon Wagner each did it once, as have Napoli and Santana now.

Of the previous 39 instances in which someone on the Indians had 15+ home runs in the team's first 69 games, 29 of the 39 went on to hit at least 30 home runs that season, and all but one (Hendricks in 1973) hit at least 25.

Another way to look at it: Of the previous 39 instances, 17 of them hit at least as many home runs during the rest of the season as they did during those first 69 games, which would seem to put Napoli and Santana's chances of reaching 30 this season at something like 43.6%. (For what it's worth, ZiPS expects Santana to hit 14 more, and Napoli to hit 13 more.)

If you're wondering what chance someone other than Napoli or Santana might have of reaching 30 this season. Well, no one else has more than 8 right now (Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor have each hit that many), so anyone else has a long, long ways to go. It would not be without precedent though, because in 1989, Joe Carter had just 8 home runs through the Tribe's first 69 games (and he played in every one of them), and then went on to blast another 27 out of the ballpark over the rest of the season, finishing with 35.

We'll see what happens.