An Omar Dozen
Oh the unluckiest number of them all, at least to some cultures. But coincidentally or not, in the grand history of our beloved Indians, exactly 13 men now have worn the number Triskaidekaphobes fear the most.
Of course, Omar Vizquel is the clear cut choice for best to wear this uniform, and it isn’t even close. The future Hall of Famer (yes, I believe it is almost a slam dunk), wore #13 for all eleven seasons while in Cleveland. The Caracas, Venezuela native signed with the Mariners as an amateur free agent at the tender age of 17. The shock of moving to Butte, MT (Copper Kings) to play in the Pioneer League must have been interesting for the Caracas native. But Seattle must have loved what they saw in the 311/347/356 line in only 49 PA to move him up to Bellingham, WA to the Northwest League (A-) for his age 18 season. He was even less impressive in 204 PA that year (225/270/353 with 19 errors!) but still earned another promotion to Wausau WI the next season.
In fact, Omar’s numbers in the minors were very uninspiring, but yet he kept moving up, each year. Wausau (Age 19 A ball: 213/333/295, 16 errors). Salinas (Age 20 A ball again: 263/350/332, 25 errors). Vermont (Age 21 AA: 254/328/329 19 errors) and Calgary (Age 21 AAA: 224/259/327 6 errors 113 PA). In 1989, he opened as the starting SS for the Mariners playing the first 8 games with robust 125/222/125 line that earned him a demotion back to AAA. However, that demotion lasted only 10 games (when Rey Quinones was traded), before getting recalled and basically starting every game for the rest of the year, finishing at 220/273/261. The future did not look too bright for this defensive first player at that point.
In 1990, he opened again at AAA Calgary while the Mariners tried Brian Giles (not that one!), Mike Brumley and Jeff Schaefer at SS for the first 80 games. Omar was recalled and started the July 5 game in Cleveland and didn’t really give up the position until being traded to the Tribe in 1994. In 1990 he had an OPS+ of 66 in those 81 games. In 1991, another 66 OPS+. Then in 1992 he upped that to 95 OPS+ and most likely a viable shortstop in the majors. However, in 1993, he slumped back to a 67 OPS+. He did however obtain the Gold Glove that year. The Mariners must felt they needed some more offense from DH/1B (a soon to be recurring theme), because that is when they traded him for Felix Fermin (who was okay defensively, but no better at hitting) and Reggie Jefferson (the precursor to Perez/Broussard etal). He actually hit very well in his 181 PA (137 OPS+) in 1994 but he became a free agent the following spring.
In his eleven seasons, Little O gradually grew into a decent hitter, finishing with a career 283/352/379, 90 OPS+ line as an Indian. We walked more than he struck out, and stole bases at a 75% clip, while providing Gold Glove defense throughout his stay here (8 straight seasons). His best season was as part of the 1999 squad at age 32: 333/397/436, 110 OPS+ in 664 PA; 36 2Bs and 42 SB. His second best season was in 2002, 275/341/418, 104 OPS+. He made three All Star Games and finished 16th in MVP voting in that 1999 season.
Omar played in 1478 games; 1472 of those as a SS, and he even got one game in as a RF in 1999. However the 1994/1995 strike cost him the top spot in career games at SS as he is only 14 games shy of catching Boudreau. He is 1st in SF, 2nd in SB, 3rd in CS, 5th in AB and 1B, 6th in PA and RS, 7th in H, 8th in 2B, and 10th in career GP, TB, BB and GIDP,
A Brief History
While only 13 players have donned the unluckiest of them all, amazingly enough five of those 13 have worn the uniform for four seasons or more. Starting with ….
Vern Fuller was the first brave soul to step onto the diamond in #13 in 1966. That’s right, for the first 37 years that the Indians wore numbers on their backs, nobody took a chance with El Trece. Vern actually wore #11 for 2 games in 1964 during his cup of coffee, but when he returned in 1966, he switched to #13 and stayed with it until 1970. A backup IF, he accumulated an 86 OPS+ in 886 PA.
In 1972, a Dodgers 63rd round pick broke out in Albuquerque going 6-4 with a 1.61 ERA ERA in 67 IP as a reliever. He had a massive regression in 1973, 6.71 ERA in 106 IP, but must have been still deemed a prospect by the Cleveland front office, Because, on April 3, 1974, Bruce Ellingsen was traded for a still raw 18 year old Pedro Guerrero. He would only go onto multiple All Star games and top five MVP votes, finishing his career with a 300/370/480 137 OPS with 215 HR in 6115 PA in 15 seasons with the Dodgers and Cardinals. That Bruce guy? Well, we got a grand total of 42 IP, 2 starts and a nice 114 ERA+ out of him. However, his WHIP was 1.476 and he only had 16 Ks in those 42 IP. He pitched one more in AAA for the Tribe and then hung it up. One of our worst trades ever. Ever!
On May 20, 1975, Cleveland dealt Dick Bosman and Jim Perry to the Athletics for Blue Moon Odom. He would make a mere 3 appearances (1 start), allowing only 4 H, but gave up 8 BB and had 10 K in 10.1 IP. Then on June 7, 1975, Cleveland turned around and dealt him and a PTBNL (Rob Belloir) to the Braves for Roric Harrison. Another deal gone bad.
Ron Pruitt was the next Tribe player to wear the #13 for a good length of time, 6 seasons. Traded by the Rangers with Stan Thomas for John Ellis, Pruitt would be backup OF, DH and third string catcher over the net six years. He accumulated a decent 96 OPS+ in 802 PA. Midway in 1980, Cleveland traded him to the White Sox, for Alan Bannister. He would return as a free agent the following year.
For the 1983 season, Cleveland would trade Ed Whitson (yeah, him) to the Padres for Broderick Perkins and Juan Eichelberger. Juan would have a dubious year in 1983, 4-11 with a 4.90 ERA (88 ERA+), starting 15 games, a 1.425 WHIP in 134 IP and 59 BB and only 56 K. Yikes.
Midway in 1983, the Tribe would deal fan favorite Rick Manning and Rick Waits (what, too many Rick’s on the team?) to the Brewers for Gorman Thomas, Jamie Easterly and Ernie Camacho. In 1984, Camacho would switch from #40 to El Treze. Ernie was the closer in 1984 and 1986, saving 23 and 20 games respectively. He would wear #13 for four seasons. His best year was definitely 1984, 2.43 ERA (170 ERA+) in 69 G, with 1.200 WHIP in 100 IP. He is currently Cleveland’s #11 all-time in saves with 44.
After Camacho, Joel Skinner and Lance Parrish would wear it briefly before Omar started his reign. After Omar left, Tim Laker would wear it for his last tour with the Tribe. Which brings us to today …..
Asdrubal Cabrera is currently in his fifth season wearing numero trece, in honor of Omar, his countryman. Which is fitting as Omar wore it in honor of his hero, Dave Concepcion. In 2007 at age 21, AbaCab put up a solid 283/354/421 103 OPS+ in 159 PA while mainly playing 2B. He slumped down to a 92 OPS+ in first full season. In 2009, that line shot up to 308/361/438 114 OPS+ while moving over to SS midseason. Injuries plagued him in 2010, 88 OPS+. But halfway through this season, he has exploded once again, 291/343/491 133 OPS+ and playing a Gold Glove like defense, achieving his first All-Star game, which he will now start in.
The One Year Wonders
Walt Williams, Bruce Ellingsen, Blue Moon Odom, Dell Alston, Juan Eichelberger, Joel Skinner, Lance Parrish and Tim Laker all wore uniform #13 for only one season.
The All-Time List
Vern Fuller 2B, 3B (1966-1970)
Walt Williams LF, DH (1973)
Bruce Ellingsen RP (1974)
Blue Moon Odom RP (1975)
Ron Pruitt RF, LF, DH, C (1976-1981)
Dell Alston LF, RF (1980)
Juan Eichelberger SP, RP (1983)
Ernie Camacho RP (1984-1987)
Joel Skinner C (1989)
Lance Parrish C (1993)
Omar Vizquel SS (1994-2004)
Tim Laker C (2006)
Asdrubal Cabrera SS, 2B (2007-2011)
Statistics and such
Other #13 fun facts, the uniform #13 has been worn 39 times by 13 different players covering 38 seasons of a possible 83 seasons since 1929. Uniform #13 was only shared once in a season, 1980.
As Omar is a no doubt slam dunk for the best #13, the poll question will be as follows: How many seasons will Droobs stay with the Tribe as #13?
6 to 8 – Antonetti dumps him before he reaches free agency (16 votes)
9-10 – He almost makes it but slumps before tying Omar (9 votes)
11 – He matches Omar exactly (0 votes)
More than 11 – He passes Omar and goes onto a similar Hall of Fame (or close to it) career (6 votes)
31 total votes