LGT's Top 100 Cleveland Indians: Full Index

Heritage Park at Jacob's/Progressive Field - clevelandseniors.com

A synopsis of the full list of players that made it into the Top 100 list.


Finale

This has been a long time coming (the first post started in April 2012) and we have finally unveiled the Top 100 players in Cleveland baseball history (Indians, Naps, Blues and Bronchos only). To refresh, the voting occurred during the 2011 offseason and included the players' accomplishments only with the Indians franchise. There were seven voters on the original panel, Ryan, Jay, TheDiatriber, mauichuck, emd2k3, YoDaddyWags and myself. We voted in groups of ten players, ranking them in an MVP fashion and that was repeated until we had the full 100 tallied.

This was a series that was near and dear to my heart because I am a huge fan of this team's history. This franchise, while downtrodden for much of a thirty year window that spanned the 60s, 70s and 80s, still has the third best winning percentage among American League franchises, behind the Yankees and Red Sox. In order to accomplish that, there were a number of great players that helped put up all of those victories. I hope all have enjoyed the stories of each of these guys who make this franchise as much as I have enjoyed writing some of their profiles.

The summary of each individual player is noted below. However, before get there, let's do a bit of an overall summary. Sixteen of the 100 are in the Hall of Fame, with twelve of them primarily playing in Cleveland. The only two in the top ten who aren't in the Hall are because they are banned or aren't eligible yet.

Here they are by their primary position with the team:

Position

Number

Players

Catcher

4

Martinez, Romano, O'Neill, Alomar

First Base

6

Thome, Trosky, Thornton, Morgan, Hargrove, Burns

Second Base

5

Lajoie, Avila, Alomar, Baerga, Gordon

Third Base

10

Rosen, Bradley, Keltner, Harrah, Bell, Jacoby, Nettles, Hale, Blake, Alvis

Shortstop

9

Boudreau, Sewell, Chapman, Vizquel, Turner, Held, Franco, Peralta, Cabrera

Left Field

9

Belle, Heath, Jamieson, Mitchell, Vozmik, Justice, Francona, Graney, Wagner

Center Field

9

Speaker, Doby, Averill, Lofton, Sizemore, Butler, Carter, Hendrick, Bay

Right Field

6

Jackson, Flick, Ramirez, Colavito, Choo, A. Smith

Designated Hitter

1

Hafner

Starting Pitcher

34

Feller, Joss, Lemon, Coveleski, Wynn, Harder, McDowell, Garcia, Perry, Sabathia, Ferrell, Tiant, Hudlin, Gregg, Nagy, Colon, Allen, Blyleven, Uhle, Candiotti, Bagby Sr., Siebert, Lee, Score, Swindell, Morton, Eckersley, Miller, Hildebrand, Westbrook, Waits, Martinez, Hershiser, Moore

Relief Pitcher

7

Jones, Betancourt, Mesa, Gromek, Plunk, Shuey, Narleski

Obviously there are a lot of starting pitchers, but this isn't to be unexpected. And the 40/60 split between pitchers and hitters is not that surprising either. It was surprising to me that many shortstops were on here considering all I recall from my youth were guys like Veryzer, Duffy and Dybzinski. And it feels odd that second base and catcher have been so bereft of great players.

Let's split them up by the decade they did most of their damage in:

Decade

Number

Players

1900s

7

Lajoie, Joss, Flick, Bradley, Turner, Bay, Moore

1910s

8

Jackson, Coveleski, Chapman, Gregg, Bagby Sr., O'Neill, Morton, Graney

1920s

6

Speaker, Sewell, Uhle, Jamieson, Miller, Burns

1930s

11

Averill, Harder, Trosky, Ferrell, Hudlin, Heath, Allen, Morgan, Vosmik, Hale, Hildebrand

1940s

5

Feller, Boudreau, Keltner, Gordon, Gromek

1950s

11

Doby, Lemon, Wynn, Rosen, Garcia, Avila, Colavito, Mitchell, Score, Smith, Narleski

1960s

8

McDowell, Tiant, Held, Siebert, Romano, Francona, Alvis, Wagner

1970s

6

Perry, Bell, Nettles, Eckersely, Waits, Hendrick

1980s

11

Harrah, Blyleven, Thornton, Candiotti, Butler, Franco, Swindell, Jacoby, Jones, Hargrove, Carter

1990s

14

Thome, Lofton, Ramirez, Belle, Vizquel, Nagy, Baerga, Justice, Mesa, Plunk, Shuey, D. Martinez, Hershiser, S. Alomar

2000s

12

Sabathia, Sizemore, Hafner, V. Martinez, R. Alomar, Colon, Choo, Lee, Betancourt, Peralta, Blake, Westbrook

2010s

1

Cabrera

The distribution here is not too awful. But the 1940s seems woefully under represented except that a good portion of the 1930s and 1950s guys also played in the 40s, not to mention World War II breaking up that decade. To me the biggest shock is the huge number of 1980s guys when that decade was pretty awful. Just goes to show that even if there are some really good players on the team, if the rest of the team blows, then your team blows.

Onto the recap ...

1. RH SP Bob Feller (1936-1941, 1945-1956) [HOF] - An easy choice for number one, had he not lost 4+ seasons to the War, he likely is a Top Five pitcher of All-Time, not just for the Indians.

2. CF Tris Speaker (1916-1926) [HOF] - Perhaps the greatest center fielder the game has ever know, he also guided the Indians to their first ever pennant as a player-manager in 1920.

3. 2B Nap Lajoie (1902-1914) [HOF] - The first true player-manager, he was so good in his days, they named the freakin' team after him.

4. SS Lou Boudreau (1938-1950) [HOF] - The third straight player-manager on the list, he guided the 1948 club to the second, and unfortunately, last Indians championship.

5. CF Larry Doby (1947-1955, 1958) [HOF] - Forgotten by the masses, he also had to face heavy discrimination after breaking the color line three months after Jackie Robinson in the AL.

6. RH SP Addie Joss (1902-1910) [HOF] - One of the first dominant starters in the AL, fan favorite (and hack), he died at a very young age of 30 due to tubercular meningitis.

7. 1B/3B/DH Jim Thome (1991-2002, 2011) - The career leader in home runs for the Indians, he finished his career in the elite 600 home run club. Very much a three outcome player; walk, strikeout, or homer.

8. SP Bob Lemon (1941-1942, 1946-1958) [HOF] - A converted outfielder, World War II gave him the chance to develop into a pitcher and a member of perhaps the best rotation the game has ever seen.

9. CF Earl Averill (1929-1939) [HOF] - A beneficiary of the League Park's dimension, he smoked AL Pitching during his decade in Cleveland before having to shut it down due to a bad back.

10. RF Shoeless Joe Jackson (1910-1915) - Tainted by the Black Sox, his career is Cleveland was one of the best three year stretches ever in the history of the game and significantly better than in Chicago.

11. RH SP Stan Coveleski (1916-1924) [HOF] - This workhorse averaged 277 innings per season in Cleveland and an amazing 305 per season over a five year stretch.

12. RH SP Early Wynn (1949-1957, 1963) [HOF] - The only non-home grown member of the Big Four, Wynn was acquired from the Senators and also was a fine hitter.

13. CF Kenny Lofton (1992-1996, 1998-2001, 2007) - The heart and soul of the 90s juggernauts, his speed annoyed opponents while his glove was loved by the Cleveland staff.

14. RH SP Mel Harder (1928-1947) - The career leader in many pitching categories, he played and all of his 20 seasons in Cleveland, and also became the first pitching coach of the franchise.

15. SS/3B Joe Sewell (1920-1930) [HOF] - Taking over for a fallen great, he would become the next great shortstop in the franchise and finish his career with a mere 114 strikeouts in 14 seasons.

16. 3B Al Rosen (1947-1956) - This power bat was the driving force of those early 50s powerhouse Indians teams. He also is the last Indian to win an MVP, in 1953.

17. LH SP Sam McDowell (1961-1971) - This fireballer, while extremely wild, was the first Indian hurler to have a 10.0 K/9 and had a career 7.0 H/9.

18. RH SP Mike Garcia (1948-1959) - The most unsung member of the Big Four, he was likely the most consistent of the four season in and season out.

19. RF Elmer Flick (1902-1910) [HOF] - This first great outfielder the franchise ever had, health issues shortened his career but he still is third All-Time for Cleveland in triples.

20. RF Manny Ramirez (1993-2000) - Before becoming Manny Being Manny, he dominated the American League with one of the best right handed hitting strokes in team history.

21. LF/DH Albert Belle (1989-1996) - Although his surly demeanor cost him at least one MVP, but he still the only player in MLB history with 50 doubles and 50 homers in a season.

22. 1B Hal Trosky (1933-1941) - One of the most consistent hitters the franchise has ever had, he is also the first one to break the 40 home run barrier.

23. RH SP Gaylord Perry (1972-1975) [HOF] - The self-avowed spitballer pitched his career best season in winning the Cy Young after his arrival in 1972, but only played four seasons in Cleveland.

24. SS Ray Chapman (1912-1920) - The best bunter of All-Time, he was tragically killed during the 1920 championship season by a pitch that fractured his skull.

25. LH SP CC Sabathia (2001-2008) - A The last draft pick to develop into an "ace", his career was tarnished by a poor 2007 postseason before being dealt at the trade deadline in his free agent year.

26. 2B Bobby Avila (1949-1958) - This first Mexican native to star for the Tribe, won a league batting title and was a key component of the juggernaut 1954 AL champions.

27. RH SP/PH Wes Ferrell (1927-1933) - The career best hitting pitcher in franchise history (and perhaps in MLB not counting Babe Ruth), also was a superb starter before an arm injury forced him to be dealt.

28. 3B Bill Bradley (1901-1910) - The first local hero of this Cleveland franchise, he was one of the first power hitters in the Dead Ball Era as well as highly regarded defender at the hot corner.

29. SS Omar Vizquel (1994-2004) - The best defensive shortstop in history, this eight time Gold Glover was a pretty decent hitter as well, using his speed to assist the powerhouse 90s teams.

30. CF Grady Sizemore (2004-2011) - An All-Star by 23, his career was on a Hall of Fame trajectory until injury after injury shut down one of the most popular players of the 2000s.

31. RF Rocky Colavito (1955-1959, 1965-1967) - Arguably the most beloved Tribe player ever, he was dealt away at the prime of his career in one of the worst Indians trades ever by Trader Lane.

32. RH SP Luis Tiant (1964-1969) - El Tiante was part of the superb 60s rotations and arguably had a better season than Denny McClain in the famed 1968 Year of the Pitcher.

33. DH Travis Hafner (2003-2012) - The best designated hitter in Tribe history by far, he was one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball from 2004 to 2006 until a shoulder injury sapped him of his power.

34. RH SP/RP Willis Hudlin (1926-1940) - Another workhorse who was never really an ace, but also part of some very deep rotations in his decade and a half in Cleveland.

35. C/1B Victor Martinez (2002-2009) - A converted shortstop, he would go on to become one of the best hitting catchers in team history and a master at hand shakes.

36. 2B Roberto Alomar (1999-2001) [HOF] - Sandy's brother was one of the few high profile free agents that was ever signed during his prime. And those three seasons were well worth the contract.

37. 3B Ken Keltner (1937-1944, 1946-1949) - A key cog on the 40s teams, he was also a major factor during the 1948 championship run and a seven time All-Star.

38. LH SP Vean Gregg (1911-1914) - Like a firework rocket, his Indian career was began with a bang and then flamed out. But he had one of the all-time pitching seasons ever in 1911.

39. LF/RF Jeff Heath (1936-1945) - Another in a long line of successful left fielders who also had an extraordinary temper.

40. RH SP Charles Nagy (1990-2002) - Never flashy, but very durable and dependable, he was a miastay of the staff for over a decade.

41. 3B Toby Harrah (1979-1983) - Buddy Bell's replacement would end up eclipsing him as one of the better hitters on the early 80s squads.

42. RH SP Bartolo Colon (1997-2002) - A great ace in his own right, he is usually better known for the bountiful return he brought back in 2002.

43. RH SP Johnny Allen (1936-1940) - One of the few trades with the Yankees where the Tribe got the best end of the trade, he had one of the most dominant seasons ever in 1937.

44. RH SP Bert Blyleven (1981-1985) [HOF] - The best starter of the AL in 1984, he was best known as the hot-foot expert in his brief stint with the Tribe.

45. DH/1B Andre Thornton (1977-1987) - The "Thunder" came over in one of the more lopsided trades in history and was the only power source on the team for much of his tenure.

46. RH SP George Uhle (1919-1928, 1936) - This three time 20 game winner who completed almost two thirds of his starts, he was credited as being Babe Ruth's least favorite starter to face.

47. RH SP Tom Candiotti (1986-1991, 1999) - The knuckleballer who was the mainstay of the late 80's teams. He was one of the more underappreciated starters of his era.

48. RF Shin-Soo Choo (2006-2012) - Another in a line of thefts from the Mariners, the right fielder who was the main offensive threat in the late 2000's.

49. RH SP Jim Bagby Sr. (1916-1922) - The best starter on the 1920 World Champion and a workhorse for the late teens' squads.

50. CF Brett Butler (1984-1987) - The center fielder for the mid-80s teams who arguably was the best player on those teams and most celebrated base stealer to that point in time.

51. LF Charlie Jamieson (1919-1932) - This fan favorite played fourteen years for the Indians while amassing lofty career totals as the career leader in games in left field.

52. SS/3B/2B Terry Turner (1904-1918) - The career games played leader, Turner was a defensive wizard for the Naps/Indians at shortstop and third base.

53. 2B/3B Carlos Baerga (1990-1999, 1999) - The three time All-Star was the first MLB player to ever hit two home runs in an inning, from each side of the plate.

54. SS/2B/OF Woodie Held (1958-1964) - One of the many excellent shortstops the Indians have had over the years, Woodie had the most amount of power than all of them, finishing 14th all-time in home runs.

55. RH SP Sonny Siebert (1964-1969) - One of the more dominant starting pitchers the Tribe ever had. He is second all-time in WHIP and seventh in K/9.

56. LF Dale Mitchell (1946-1956) - One of the toughest players to ever strike out, Mitchell excelled in left field for seven seasons and making two All-Star teams.

57. 2B Joe Gordon [HOF] (1947-1950) - The former Yankee was one of the best offensive second basemen in history and did it all in four seasons. He was a leader on the last Tribe champion in 1948.

58. 3B/OF Buddy Bell (1972-1978) - Perhaps the best glove man ever at third base, Bell was part of one of the most successful bloodlines in baseball history.

59. LH SP Cliff Lee (2002-2009) - The cherry on top of the Bartolo Colon deal, Lee was eventually traded for a lot of prospect in numerous dealss. His 2008 season is top five all-time for an Indian starting pitcher.

60. SS/2B/1B/ DH Julio Franco (1983-1988, 1996-1997) - The poster child for the preseason 1987 Indians, Franco was the bane of all Little League managers in Cleveland in the 80s.

61. C John Romano (1960-1964) - One of the players acquired by Trader Lane who was productive AND actually stuck with the team for a while and made four All-Star games in two consecutive seasons.

62. C Steve O'Neill (1911-1923) - The player with the second most games caught, O'Neill was a defensive stalwart for the Indians for a long time and also managed the Tribe in the 1930s.

63. LH SP Herb Score (1955-1959) - The beloved announcer was originally a left handed version of Feller who was destined for stardom until a torn tendon ruined his promising career.

64. 1B/RF Ed Morgan (1928-1933) - The first Indians player to hit 20 HR, Morgan makes the list mainly because of that fantastic 1930 season.

65. RF/3B Al E. Smith (1953-1957, 1964) - A key ingredient to the fantastic 1954 team, Fuzzy would have his best season in 1955 before heading to Chicago in 1958.

66. LH SP Greg Swindell (1986-1991, 1996) - This Texas phenom was supposed to be a left handed Clemens. He became the ace of the late 80s Indians staff.

67. 3B Brook Jacoby (1984-1992) - One of the prospects obtained in the Len Barker trade, Jacoby would develop into one the best third baseman in Tribe history.

68. RH SP/RP Guy Morton (1914-1924) - A member of the 1920 World Champs, Morton was one of the top strikeout pitchers in his day, and threw four one-hitters for the Indians.

69. RH RP Doug Jones (1986-1991, 1998) - This late bloomer was the atypical closer who is third all-time on the Indians save list.

70. 1B Mike Hargrove (1979-1985) - The manager of those 90s powerhouse teams was a very good first baseman in his own right affectionately known as the Human Rain Delay when he was a player.

71. LF Joe Vosmik (1930-1936) - This Cleveland native was a League Park truant who ended up starring in left field for six years in the 30s.

72. LF/DH David Justice (1997-2000) - The player who ended the Tribe's 1995 magical season, arrived for fan favorite Kenny Lofton and was a top slugger for the late 90s powerhouse Tribe squads.

73. RH RP Rafael Betancourt (2003-2009) - A former shortstop, Betancourt developed into the slowest working relievers but established himself as one the best set-up pitchers the Tribe ever had.

74. LF Tito Francona (1959-1964) - The father of our current skipper, Terry, he was one of the few offensive threats on the early 60s squads.

75. 3B Graig Nettles (1970-1972) - A third baseman who had a great start with the Tribe, but ended up starring for the hated Yankees in the mid 70's .

76. RHP Dennis Eckersley [HOF] (1975-1977) - An extremely talented starting pitcher that was traded due to a off-field controversy and would eventually have a Hall of Fame career as a reliever.

77. SS/3B Jhonny Peralta (2003-2010) - He replaced a Cleveland legend, and although he had one of the greatest offensive seasons as a shortstop in franchise history, never came close to repeating it.

78. RHP Jose Mesa (1992-1998) - An outstanding career both with the Indians and others was unfortunately marred by one blown save.

79. RHP Steve Gromek (1941-1953) - A swingman for most of his career, Gromek had his brief time in the sun late in 1948.

80. CF/LF/1B Joe Carter (1984-1989) - Important more from Cleveland's perspective for the trade that sent him away, Carter nevertheless was a steady player for some awful Cleveland teams.

81. LHP Jake Miller (1924-1931) - Several outstanding seasons were sprinkled through several injury-plagued years in the era between the Speaker and Averill.

82. 2B/3B Odell Hale (1931, 1933-1940) - He was a key part of an offensive core that never quite put everything together in the 1930s.

83. LF Jack Graney (1908, 1910-1922) - After a long career with Cleveland as a player, Graney became the first former player to broadcast in the new medium of radio.

84. SS/2B Asdrubal Cabrera (2007- ) - The first current Indian to make the list, Cabrera was acquired via one of the best trades in franchise history.

85. 3B/RF Casey Blake (2003-2008) - Although he didn't get his chance until his late 20s, Blake made a nice career for himself, and he gave the Indians Carlos Santana as a parting gift.

86. RHP Oral Hildebrand (1931-1936) - A pitcher hurt by his home park, Hildebrand nevertheless gave the Indians several very good seasons in the mid-30s.

87. RHP Jake Westbrook (2001-2008, 2010) - After being traded three times soon after being drafted, Westbrook finally made a home in Cleveland and became a groundball machine.

88. RHP Eric Plunk (1992-1998) - A very important cog in the Indians' mid-90s juggernauts he never got the headlines but was one of baseball's best relievers for many seasons from the late 80s through the 90s.

89. RHP Paul Shuey (1994-2002) - The second player selected in the 1992 Draft, Shuey never quite reached his potential due to injuries, but he played a key role on several playoff teams.

90. LHP Rick Waits (1975-1983) - One good season and a long stint with the Indians got the "Yankee Killer" onto this list.

91. 1B George Burns (1920-1921, 1924-1928) - After bouncing around the AL, including a stint with the Indians, Burns broke out, and when he was reacquired, gave Cleveland several fine seasons.

92. CF/LF George Hendrick (1973-1976) - He had his best seasons later in his career, but his four seasons with the Indians still made him worthy of this list.

93. RHP Dennis Martinez (1994-1996) - One of the Indians' final building blocks in their 40-year-long rebuild.

94. CF Harry Bay (1902-1908) - During his brief peak, Bay was one of the most dynamic players in the American League.

95. RHP Orel Hershiser (1995-1997) - In the autumn of his career, he reinvented himself to help the Indians to break a 41-year-old playoff drought.

96. 3B Max Alvis (1962-1969) - Meningitis sapped his power, but Alvis still put up solid seasons for the Indians in mid-60s.

97. LF Leon Wagner (1964-1968) - One of the best interviews of his era, Wagner would have been a perfect DH had he played a decade later.

98. RHP Earl Moore (1901-1907) - Eccentric but extremely talented pitcher who was one of the franchise's first stars.

99. C Sandy Alomar (1990-2000) - His magical 1997 season helped the Indians get to the brink of a championship, but injuries derailed much of the rest of his career.

100. RHP Ray Narleski (1954-1958) - relief ace for the mid-50s Indians, decades before relievers were recognized as key pieces to the baseball club.

...There you have them, the greatest players in franchise history.

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