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Cleveland Indians first baseman Mike Napoli striking out at record pace

How many home runs would it take to cancel out a new franchise record for strikeouts?

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Napoli has quickly become a popular figure with his Cleveland Indians teammates and with Tribe fans as well. He's hit 16 home runs, tying him with Carlos Santana for the team lead, and putting him on pace to hit 34 of them by the end of the season. No Indians player has reached 30 home runs in a season since Grady Sizemore in 2008, and fans have been been eager in recent years to see that drought end, so if Napoli stays on pace to clear that bar, his standing is not likely to decline. Becoming the first player on a team in eight years to reach 30 home runs would be cool, but not exactly historic... there is some history Napoli might make this season though.

In addition to those home runs, Napoli has also struck out 104 times already. He is on pace for 219 strikeouts, which would shatter the franchise record.

Indians single-season strikeout leaders:

  • 1) Jim Thome (2001), 185
  • t2) Jim Thome (1999), 171
  • t2) Jim Thome (2000), 171
  • 4) Cory Snyder (1987), 166
  • 5) Grady Sizemore (2007), 155
  • 6) Grady Sizemore (2006), 153
  • 7) Jhonny Peralta (2006), 152
  • 8) Shin-Soo Choo (2009), 151
  • 9) Shin-Soo Choo (2012), 150
  • t10) Jim Thome (1997), 146
  • t10) Jhonny Peralta (2007), 146

Napoli is on pace to break Thome's record during the first week of September.

The MLB record is 223, by Mark Reynolds in 2009, so Napoli is only a hair off the pace for that. The 219 he's on pace for would be the third-highest total ever. Only five players have ever reached 200 strikeouts in a single season; unless Napoli misses a number of games or is able to significantly drop his strikeout rate during the rest of the season, he's going to join that group.

It's not as though a player can't put up great numbers while striking out a ton. The majority of those seasons listed above were very productive ones at the plate. Still, there's something about watching a player strike out in more than a third of his plate appearances that's somewhat off-putting. (Napoli's K% right now is 34.2%, which would be third-highest in MLB history. Thome has the franchise record at 28.7%.) Maybe the secret to Napoli's power is that he's often building a steady breeze at home plate.