Top 100 Cleveland Indians: #40 Charles Nagy

Charles Nagy - USA TODAY Sports Images

Next up on the Top 100 Indians countdown is the workhorse of the 1990s teams.

Charles Harrison Nagy

Starting Pitcher, 1990-2002

Height: 6'3" Weight: 200 lbs

Throws: Right; Bats: Left

How Acquired: First Round Pick, 1988 (17th overall)

Left Via: Free Agency, October 22, 2002

Perhaps it's just me, but I think Charles Nagy tends to get overshadowed by others in the pantheon of great 1990s players. But he's as much responsible for the success of those playoff teams as anyone else.

Nagy grew up in Connecticut, although he lived for a couple years in Florida. He was a star in baseball and football in high school, but chose to attend the University of Connecticut and play baseball. He was twice named Big East Pitcher of the Year while with the Huskies, and after his junior season was drafted in the first round (17th overall selection) by the Cleveland Indians. He signed with the Indians quickly, but didn't pitch in the organization until 1989 because he was named a member of the 1988 US team that competed in the Baseball World Cup and the Seoul Olympics. The US team won the Olympic gold medal, with Nagy a key contributor in relief.

So Nagy's professional career didn't begin until he was 22 years old, but he made up for lost time. He blew through the minors, splitting 1989 between Kinston (Carolina League) and Canton-Akron (Eastern League), posting a 2.42 ERA in 189.1 innings of work. He made his major-league debut on June 29, 1990, and made 9 appearances with the Indians that season. He made the Opening Day roster in 1991, and would be a fixture in the Tribe rotation for the next decade.


Nagy featured a fine three-pitch mix: a low-to-mid 90s fastball, a curve, and a changeup. When he arrived in Cleveland, the Indians were in the midst of a major rebuilding project, one that would see many of the players on that 1990 club leave via either free agency or trade within a couple years. Of the rotation that Nagy was part of in 1990-91, Greg Swindell would be dealt after the 1991 season to Cincinnati, Tom Candiotti would be traded at the 1991 July deadline for a package including Glenallen Hill and Mark Whiten, and Bud Black would be dealt late in 1990 to Toronto just before he became a free agent. So Nagy was at an early age the ace of the Tribe rotation, and for a while he had carry most of the pitching load.

1992 was very much in the midst of the Hank Peters-John Hart rebuilding project, and Nagy was the ace of a patchwork rotation. He was the only regular on that staff who had been drafted by the Indians. The others were acquired in trades:

  • Jack Armstrong (Age 27, 166.2 IP, 4.64 ERA) - acquired in the Greg Swindell deal (11-15-91)
  • Dennis Cook (Age 29, 158.0 IP, 3.82 ERA) - acquired on 12-10-91 for Rudy Seanez
  • Scott Scudder (Age 24, 109.0 IP, 5.28 ERA) - acquired in the Greg Swindell deal (11-15-91)
  • Jose Mesa (Age 26, 93.0 IP, 4.16 ERA) - acquired on 7-14-1992 for Kyle Washington

Obviously Jose Mesa stuck around in another role, but none of the others stayed long with the Indians. And in 1993 it looked as though Nagy himself wouldn't stick around. He hadn't pitched well that season, and left his start on May 15 after just a couple of batters. He would have labrum surgery and miss most of the rest of the season. But not only did he come back from the injury, he became one of the most durable pitchers in baseball over the next 6-7 years.

By the time Nagy returned to the rotation the Indians were on the cusp on greatness. The lineup was full of young stars, from the core that came up with Nagy in 1990-91 (Belle, Sandy Alomar, Baerga) to the next wave of players (Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome). The one area that didn't have a lot of homegrown talent was the rotation, so over the next couple of seasons the Indians spent heavily in free agency, bringing in Dennis Martinez and Jack Morris in 1994, and Orel Hershiser in 1995. But Nagy was the constant, making every one of his scheduled starts from the end of 1993 through May of 2000. He finished sixth in Cy Young voting in 1995 (thanks mostly to his 17-5 record) and fourth in 1996, which was his best season. He started the 1996 All-Star Game (which was managed by Mike Hargrove), and should have been the winning pitcher in Game 4 of the 1996 ALDS against Baltimore.

Although Nagy had just a decent 1997 season, it was his outstanding performance in Game 6 of the ALCS that propelled the Indians into the World Series. Mike Mussina was brilliant that night, allowing just one hit over eight innings, but Nagy somehow matched him inning for inning, scattering 9 hits over 7.1 innings. In Game 7 of the World Series he was called on in relief of Jose Mesa after the Marlins tied the game, and allowed the winning run to score.*

Nagy pitched brilliantly in his start in the 1998 ALDS, going eight innings and allowing just a run on four hits. In Game 2 of the ALCS against the Yankees he pitched almost as well, allowing a run on five hits in 6.2 innings. But in Game 6 he allowed six runs (three unearned) in three innings, and that spelled the Indians' doom.

1999 would be Nagy's last healthy season. He threw 202.0 innings (his fourth straight season of 200+ innings), and would again pitch in the playoffs. From 1995-1999, he threw 1,039.1 regular-season innings and 84 playoff innings, which equates to an average of 224.2 innings per season. That would take a toll on any pitcher, and finally it did. On May 16, 2000, Nagy was placed on the DL with bone chips in his elbow, ending an incredible streak of 192 consecutive starts. He returned to action in June 2001, but didn't pitch well and was placed on the DL again at the end of August. He tried to pitch again in 2002, but injuries and ineffectiveness limited him to 48.2 innings. He became a free agent after the season, and signed with the San Diego Padres. He pitched just 12.1 innings with them before retiring.

*Though it was unearned thanks to Tony Fernandez's error earlier in the inning.

Indians Career Statistics

Year Age Tm Lg ERA G CG SHO IP ER HR BB SO ERA+ H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
1990 23 CLE AL 5.91 9 0 0 45.2 30 7 21 26 67 11.4 1.4 4.1 5.1 1.24
1991 24 CLE AL 4.13 33 6 1 211.1 97 15 66 109 101 9.7 0.6 2.8 4.6 1.65
1992 25 CLE AL 2.96 33 10 3 252.0 83 11 57 169 132 8.8 0.4 2.0 6.0 2.96
1993 26 CLE AL 6.29 9 1 0 48.2 34 6 13 30 69 12.2 1.1 2.4 5.5 2.31
1994 27 CLE AL 3.45 23 3 0 169.1 65 15 48 108 135 9.3 0.8 2.6 5.7 2.25
1995 28 CLE AL 4.55 29 2 1 178.0 90 20 61 139 103 9.8 1.0 3.1 7.0 2.28
1996 29 CLE AL 3.41 32 5 0 222.0 84 21 61 167 143 8.8 0.9 2.5 6.8 2.74
1997 30 CLE AL 4.28 34 1 1 227.0 108 27 77 149 109 10.0 1.1 3.1 5.9 1.94
1998 31 CLE AL 5.22 33 2 0 210.1 122 34 66 120 91 10.7 1.5 2.8 5.1 1.82
1999 32 CLE AL 4.95 33 1 0 202.0 111 26 59 126 101 10.6 1.2 2.6 5.6 2.14
2000 33 CLE AL 8.21 11 0 0 57.0 52 15 21 41 60 11.2 2.4 3.3 6.5 1.95
2001 34 CLE AL 6.40 15 0 0 70.1 50 10 20 29 70 13.1 1.3 2.6 3.7 1.45
2002 35 CLE AL 8.88 19 0 0 48.2 48 10 13 22 50 14.1 1.8 2.4 4.1 1.69
CLE (13 yrs) 4.51 313 31 6 1942.1 974 217 583 1235 101 10.1 1.0 2.7 5.7 2.12
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/15/2013.


Selected Awards/Leaders

  • AL All-Star: 1992, 1996, 1992
  • AL Cy Young: 1996-4th; 1995-6th; 1992-7th
  • AL WAR: 9th, 1996-6.7
  • AL WAR Pitchers: 4th, 1996-6.7; 5th, 1992-6.1; 9th, 1994-4.1
  • AL ERA: 3rd, 1996-3.41; 7th, 1992-2.96; 10th, 1994-3.45
  • AL Wins: 4th, 1996-17; 5th, 1995-16; 5th, 1999-17; 5th, 1992-17
  • AL W/L Percentage: 2nd, 1996-.773; 3rd, 1995-.727; 9th, 1992-.630
  • AL WHIP: 5th, 1996-1.252; 9th, 1992-1.198
  • AL Hits/9 IP: 6th, 1996-8.797
  • AL Bases on Balls/9 IP: 4th, 1996-2.473; 6th, 1992-2.036; 9th, 1999-2.629
  • AL Strikeouts/9 IP: 7th, 1995-7.028; 9th, 1996-6.770
  • AL Innings: 4th, 1992-252.0; 7th, 1997-227.0
  • AL Strikeouts: 8th, 1992-169; 10th, 1996-167
  • AL Games Started: 5th, 1997-34; 7th, 1998-33
  • AL Complete Games: 4th, 1992-10; 8th, 1996-5
  • AL Shutouts: 4th, 1992-3; 9th, 1995-1; 9th, 1997-1
  • AL Home Runs: 3rd, 1998-34
  • AL Hits: 2nd, 1997-253; 3rd, 1998-250; 5th, 1992-245; 5th, 1999-238; 7th, 1991-228; 7th, 1994-175
  • AL Strikeouts/Bases on Balls: 2nd, 1992-2.965; 5th, 1996-2.738; 8th, 1995-2.279
  • AL Home Runs/9: 3rd, 1992-0.393; 7th, 1996-0.851
  • AL Losses: 3rd, 1991-15
  • AL Earned Runs: 2nd, 1998-122; 8th, 1991-97; 8th, 1997-108; 9th, 1999-111
  • AL Adjusted Era+: 4th, 1996-143; 7th, 1992-132; 10th, 1994-135
  • AL Win Probability Added: 4th, 1996-4.9
  • AL Putouts as P: 2nd, 1996-29; 2nd, 1999-21; 4th, 1992-22
  • AL Assists as P: 1st, 1997-45; 2nd, 1992-43; 3rd, 1998-46
  • AL Range Factor as P: 2nd, 1997-1.79; 3rd, 1992-1.97; 3rd, 1996-2.00; 3rd, 1998-1.91; 5th, 1999-1.64

Cleveland Indians Career Leader

  • 16th WAR Pitchers (25.2)
  • 10th Wins (129)
  • t-30th W/L Percentage (.556)
  • 24th Bases on Balls/9 IP (2.701)
  • t-24th Strikeouts/9 IP (5.722)
  • 17th Games Played (313)
  • 11th Innings Pitched (1942.1)
  • 6th Strikeouts (1235)
  • 6th Games Started (297)
  • t-45th Shutouts (6)
  • 2nd Home Runs (217)
  • t-11th Bases on Balls (583)
  • 7th Hits (2173)
  • 15th Strikeouts/Bases on Balls (2.118)
  • 8th Losses (103)
  • 5th Earned Runs (974)
  • t-7th Wild Pitches (45)
  • t-9th Hit By Pitch (51)
  • 35th WPA (3.4)

Cleveland Indians Season Leader

  • t-32nd Pitching WAR (6.7, 1996)
  • t-42nd Pitching WAR (6.1, 1992)
  • t-12th W/L Percentage (.773, 1996)
  • t-27th W/L Percentage (.727, 1995)
  • t-43rd Strikeouts (169, 1992)
  • t-46th Strikeouts (167, 1996)
  • t-3rd Home Runs (34, 1998)
  • t-26th Home Runs (27, 1997)
  • t-31st Home Runs (26, 1999)
  • 25th Strikeouts/Bases on Balls (2.965, 1992)
  • 43rd Strikeouts/Bases on Balls (2.738, 1996)
  • t-34th Losses (15, 1991)
  • t-12th Earned Runs (122, 1998)
  • t-34th Earned Runs (111, 1999)
  • t-47th Earned Runs (108, 1997)
  • t-50th Hit By Pitch (9, 1998)
  • t-12th WPA (4.9, 1996)

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