Team Home Run Records: American League

Ken Griffey Jr., the all-time Seattle Mariners home-run leader. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Who are the all-time home run bosses for each American League team and which of them are in danger of losing their exalted positions?

Saturday, we examined the team home run leaders in the National League and, because one simply doesn't do things for one league and not the other, today we'll look at the American.

Angels - Tim Salmon, 299

Spoiler alert: Mike Trout takes this record away in 2022. Salmon is the only team leader to never appear in an All-Star Game. He did make $60 million in his career, though, so that's some small compensation.

Athletics - Mark McGwire, 363

McGwire passed Jimmie Foxx on the team home run index in 1996, so that clears up any question as to who hit the most Athletic home runs in Oakland and Philadelphia. The big mystery then, is who led them on the Kansas City leg of their baseball journey? Not to kill the suspense, but It was Norm Siebern with 78. Rounding out the top five were Bob Cerv (75), Gus Zernial (73), Hector Lopez (67) and Ed "The Glider" Charles (65). Before injuries sidetracked his career, Eric Chavez had an outstanding shot at putting his name above McGwire's.

Blue Jays - Carlos Delgado, 336

Obviously, it's not a requirement to be a league home run champion in order to be an all-time team leader. Nearly half (14) of the top men - including Delgado - never led their league in round-trippers. (Indians leader Jim Thome did, but it was after he left Cleveland.) Jose Bautista, despite his late start, still has a decent established chance to become the big Jay in this category.

Indians - Jim Thome, 337

This is the lowest total of any of the pre-expansion franchises. The top three Indians homer guys - Thome, Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez - all date from the power detonation of the ‘90s/'00s. Prior to that, the team record was held by Earl Averill with just 226.

Mariners - Ken Griffey, Jr., 417

Griffey has the top five single-season home run totals in Mariners history. The non-Griffey leader is Jay Buhner with 44 in 1996. Overall, Edgar Martinez is second all-time with 309 despite not having one of the 10-best single-season marks. Alvin Davis was the kingpin before Griffey started to stack ‘em up.

Orioles - Cal Ripken, 431

Two St. Louis Browns still cling to the team's top 10: Ken Williams is seventh with 185 and Harlond Clift tenth with 170. There was a brief-but-exciting struggle for the lead back in 1969 when Boog Powell and Brooks Robinson raced to be the one to pass Williams. Robinson started the season eight ahead of Powell, 173 to 165. On June 20, Robinson hit his 185th career homer while Powell was at 182. Two weeks later, on July 5, Robinson broke his tie with Williams, but by then, Powell was at 184. Boog hit number 185 on July 6 and tied Robinson in the first game of a double header with number 186 on July 8. He broke the tie with Brooksie the next day and, although Robinson managed to stay close for a while, Powell began to pull away in late July. So, in the end, Robinson held the record by himself for three days while Powell had it for 18 years before being displaced by Eddie Murray who, in turn, gave way to Ripken in 1996.

Rangers - Juan Gonzalez, 372

Gonzalez is one of three top team home run hitters who came back to their clubs to pad their leads. He tacked on 32 homers in a return visit in 2002-2003. Jim Thome added three to his Indians total in his 2011 return to Cleveland and Ken Griffey, Jr. tacked 19 onto his Mariners total in 2009. At 237, Frank Howard holds the Washington Senators portion of the team record and stands at third overall.

Rays - Carlos Pena, 159

Pena is the only American League leaders who is still with the team he leads, although the smart money would be on Evan Longoria eventually bridging the 40-plus gap between them to grab the number-one slot. This is the lowest leader total, which makes sense in that they're one of the two newest teams. The upside of that is that a rookie can go to the Rays and not feel like he's looking up at a 200-story building when he eyes the team home run record.

Red Sox - Ted Williams, 521

When Williams got back from World War II, he trailed franchise leader Jimmie Foxx 222-127 (As we have seen, Foxx was also the Athletics' top man). It didn't take him long to grab the lead, doing so with his first homer of the 1949 season, a three-run shot off of fellow San Diegan Jim Wilson of the Philadelphia A's on April 28. Stan Musial wrested the Cardinals record from Rogers Hornsby two years later, so Williams trails only Babe Ruth of the Yankees as the longest-reigning team homer champion. Only two teams have every player in their home run top tens with at least 200 homers: the Red Sox and Yankees.

Royals - George Brett, 317

Until Brett's seventh full season in the majors, his triple and home run totals were neck and neck, with the three-baggers usually having the advantage. He hit a career-high 20 triples in 1979 then never got into double figures again, giving the homers the upper hand, 317-137. While he never became a big bomber, he was a solid home run threat throughout most of his career. Billy Butler is the active team leader with 97, which means that Brett's top spot is in no immediate danger, but Bo Jackson (109 HR) will soon be kissing his 10th-place position on the team leaderboard goodbye.

Tigers - Al Kaline, 399

Kaline came by his lead the hard way, never posting a 30-homer season in his 22-year career. Among team leaders, only Robin Yount of the Brewers can say the same. If not for World War II and a season-ending on-field collision in 1936, Hank Greenberg would own this record.

Twins - Harmon Killebrew, 559

Killebrew dominates his franchise homering like nobody else. He has nine of the top 11 single-season team round-tripper totals. He also has the largest lead over his team's runner-up: 266 more than Kent Hrbek. Killebrew is also one of the eight players who has both their team's single-season and all-time team home records. The others are Pena, Luis Gonzalez (Diamondbacks), Thome, Helton (Rockies), Griffey, Jr., Bagwell (Astros) and Sosa (Cubs). Roy Sievers holds the Washington Senators portion of the team record, having clocked 180 round trippers from 1954 to 1959.

White Sox - Frank Thomas, 448

When the dust settled on the Sox' inaugural season, they were the first American League champions and Sam Mertes was their all-time home run leader with five. The next year, Frank Isbell hit his seventh White Sox homer and grabbed the lead. The rest of the team's progression looks like this:

Record Breaker Year Broken # Broken

Ping Bodie

1913

13

Happy Felsch

1919

20

Harry Hooper

1924

38

Bibb Falk

1927

45

Zeke Bonura

1937

50

Minnie Minoso

1956

79

Bill Melton

1975

135

Harold Baines

1987

154

Carlton Fisk

1990

186

Frank Thomas

1996

214

That's right, the Pale Hose got through the hit-happy Live Ball Era with a home run leader in double digits. Minoso was first to the century mark in 1957 and Fisk the first to hit 200 in 1991, ninety years after the team started. So here's to The Big Hurt for really laying a respectable number on the franchise. Paul Konerko will pass Thomas in a couple of seasons and has a decent chance to be the first White Sox player to make it into the 500 Club.

Yankees - Babe Ruth, 659

Ruth is the only team leader whose career ended before World War II. Aside from him, Ted Williams and Stan Musial are the only other team leaders that even played before the war. 15 players appear in the top-10 career home run leaders of more than one team, but only two are on three lists. One is Fred McGriff, who ranks for the Blue Jays, Padres and Rays. The other is Alex Rodriguez, who is currently fourth for the Mariners, seventh for the Rangers and sixth for the Yankees. Slowing down though he may be, he should still have enough gas left to rise to fourth on the New York list as he trails Yogi Berra by 59 and Joe DiMaggio by 63. Bill James' Favorite Toy gives him about a fifty-fifty chance to do that. His chances of catching Barry Bonds for the overall lead have fallen into single digits, down from about a 50-percent likelihood when Bonds stopped playing in 2007.

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