Hall of Famer Hank Aaron is honored prior to the MLB Civil Rights between the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Is a franchise's identity defined by its all-time home run leader? An examination of the state of team home-run records in the National League.
Real team pride goes beyond wins and losses. It extends to the minutia of the franchise record book, where one can see who has excelled in the livery of one's most beloved team. And what team record carries more emotional weight than the home run? Today, we're looking at the National League club leaders in that most exalted of categories. Will your team's showing bring smugness or shame? (Numbers are through games played on August 8.)
Astros - Jeff Bagwell: 449
With 31, Bob Aspromonte hit the most homers for the team when they were known as the Colt .45s from 1962 to 1964. Jim Wynn is the only player on the team's all-time top 10 who dates to that era. He was also the team leader with 223 until Bagwell blew past that mark in 1999. Given that the entire combined current Houston 40-man roster has only 110 home runs in Astros togs, Bagwell's record seems very safe for a very long time.
Braves - Hank Aaron: 733
Mr. Aaron has the record for most home runs with the same team. At 493, the Braves also have a number-two man who would be first on most other clubs, in the person of Eddie Mathews. He holds the Milwaukee Braves career home- run record with 452. (Aaron hit 398 homers while the team was in Wisconsin.) Chipper Jones has the Atlanta Braves record, with 464 and counting. Wally Berger was the big man when the team was in Boston, clubbing 199.
Brewers - Robin Yount: 251
Yount has the lowest homer total of any team leader. Obviously, had Prince Fielder stuck around, the record would have fallen this year as he ended 2011 with 230. With Ryan Braun lurking just below 200 and working on a long-term contract, Yount's hold on the record is running out of time.
Cardinals - Stan Musial: 475
As with the Brewers, this is another team record that will survive thanks to free agency. Finishing 2011 with 445, Albert Pujols would have wrested the lead from Stan the Man this season.
Cubs - Sammy Sosa: 545
The Hall of Fame trio of Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo are second, third and fourth on the team homer list. They were teammates from 1960 through 1971, and in that window hit 903 of their 1,241 Cubs home runs. Banks grabbed the top franchise spot on April 29, 1960 and held it until Sosa took over on April 18, 2004. Prior to that, the top man was pre-war catcher and Hall of Famer Gabby Hartnett.
Diamondbacks - Luis Gonzalez: 224
No surprise here. The only offensive categories in which Gonzalez is not the career Arizona leader are triples and stolen bases. He even leads in sacrifice flies and getting hit by pitches; not bad for someone who spent only half his career with the Diamondbacks. While he also holds the single-season team mark at 57, he does not appear anywhere else on the top 10 single-season home-run list.
Dodgers - Duke Snider: 389
The Los Angeles Dodgers were the first team with four players who hit 30 home runs in the same season (1977), but their post-Brooklyn years haven't produced a horde of long-term home-run hitters. In fact, you'd probably be surprised to learn that Eric Karros (270) is the West Coast Dodger home-run leader. Three of the four top spots (Snider, Gil Hodges and Roy Campanella) are still held by Brooklyn-based Dodgers, even subtracting the L.A. homers hit by Snider and Hodges.
Giants - Willie Mays: 646
If this is a contest -- and what in life isn't? -- then the Giants are pretty well fixed for it. Their second-place man is Barry Bonds with 586. Their third-place guy, Mel Ott, is also in the 500-homer club. Their fourth-place guy, Willie McCovey, would be first on 21 other teams. Heck, Mays' San Francisco total alone (459) would be first on 21 other teams.
Marlins - Dan Uggla: 154
At this writing, Giancarlo Stanton is exactly half way to Uggla's mark. This brings up the question: When are we going to see our first career Marlin? By that I mean a player who runs out at least a 12- to 15-year career exclusively in a Marlins uniform. Ricky Nolasco (seven) and Josh Johnson (eight) are both lifetime Fish, but performance issues for the former and fragility issues for the latter make it unlikely that either will be that guy. Perhaps it will be Stanton, and 15 years from now he'll have set the team homer bar at more than 400. Or 500.
Mets - Darryl Strawberry: 252
Why are the home-run numbers of the Mets leaders so low? For one thing, they don't keep position players around very long. David Wright, third on the team home-run list with 199 and a likely candidate to break the record, already has the second-most plate appearances in Mets history. The leader in that category is Ed Kranepool, who stuck around for 18 seasons in spite of only 2.2 career Wins Above Replacement. He also clings to the 10th place on the team's home-run leader board.
Nationals - Vladimir Guerrero: 234
With Bryce Harper in the van, this record looks very vulnerable. Can Harper pop this many before becoming free-agent eligible? (Is it madness to suggest a lifetime contract at this stage?) Ryan Zimmerman, currently the only non-Expo on the team's top 10, will get to the record before him, though -- probably in 2016.
Padres - Nate Colbert: 163
The Pads owe their low leader total to having hamstrung themselves with power-sapping parks throughout their history. How bad is it? Khalil Greene is in the team's top 10 all-time, and no active player is close to Colbert (the ‘t' is hard, youngsters), who hit 71 at home and 92 on the road while playing for San Diego. Adrian Gonzalez was traded just two shy of the record. In third place is Phil Nevin, who actually hit more home runs in far fewer plate appearances than fourth-place man Dave Winfield. In Winfield's defense, the Jack Murphy fence heights and distances in his era were insane (not that the Qualcomm/Petco years have been a hitters' bonanza).
Phillies - Mike Schmidt: 548
This is the record for most home runs with a single team by a player who spent his entire career with just one team. Schmidt bettered Del Ennis's Phillies record of 259 by the age of 31. The Bill James Favorite Toy gives Ryan Howard, who broke Schmidt's single-season team record in 2008, something like a 20-percent chance to match Schmidt. The notion of him more than doubling his career output seems more far-fetched than that, though.
Pirates - Willie Stargell: 475
Barry Bonds is fourth on the all-time team list, yet does not appear on Pittsburgh's top 10 list of single-season home-run leaders. That honor belongs to just three men: Ralph Kiner (the leader with 54 plus five other appearances), Brian Giles (three) and Stargell (two).
Reds - Johnny Bench: 389
Doesn't it seem like the Reds' leader should have more than this? They would if they had kept Adam Dunn, everything else being equal. Of course, shipping out Frank Robinson in his prime didn't help, either. Bench is the only catcher atop a franchise home-run list.
Rockies - Todd Helton: 354
Helton is the only active National League player who leads his team, although he's not especially active at the moment, having just undergone hip surgery. A healthy Troy Tulowitzki (currently at 130) has a decent shot at catching Helton.
Next time, the American League.