The city of Cleveland has had baseball clubs for over a century. The Cleveland Spiders played in the late 1800s, ending in 1899. Then the Cleveland Blues became a team in 1901. The team switched its’ name a few more times before becoming the Cleveland Indians in 1915. Since becoming the Indians, the organization has won two World Series titles. The most recent one is from 1948, which, as of 2020, puts them in the longest active World Series drought in the MLB. The team also has nine retired numbers including number 42.
Here is an all-time starting lineup for the Cleveland Indians with a DH, a starting pitcher and a closing pitcher.
1. Nap Lajoie, Second Base (1902-1914)
Hall of Fame Inductee in 1937
Nap Lajoie played with the Indians for 13 seasons. He led the league in hits multiple times, recording at least 150 hits in nine of his 13 seasons there. His career batting average with the club is .339 with a .389 OBP. One of the second basemen’s best seasons with Cleveland came in 1904. That year, he slashed .376/.413/.546 with 49 doubles and 102 RBIs. Lajoie was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937 as a member of the second class.
2. Tris Speaker, Center Field (1916-1926)
Hall of Fame Inductee in 1937
Tris Speaker is also a member of the second Hall of Fame class from 1937. One of his biggest milestones is that he is currently the all-time leader in doubles with 792. The center fielder hit at least 33 two-baggers in all of his 11 seasons with Cleveland. He even had his single-season best with the Indians in 1923 when he hit 59 doubles. Speaker also had 130 RBIs and a 1.079 OPS that year. Speaker was a member of the 1920 club that won the World Series in seven games.
3. Jim Thome, First Base (1991-2002, 2011)
Hall of Fame Inductee in 2018
Recent Hall of Fame inductee Jim Thome is in the first base spot of this list. He played in 1,399 regular-season games with the Tribe, totaling 337 homers, 263 doubles and 937 RBIs in those games. Thome’s slash line in those 1,399 contests is .287/.414/.566. He also played in 50 Postseason games with the Indians. In those games, the slugger hit 17 home runs, scored 32 runs and had 36 RBIs.
4. Manny Ramirez, Right Field (1993-2000)
Although Manny Ramirez is more known for his time with the Red Sox, he still had some solid years with the Indians where he started his MLB career. He was the runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year in 1994. Ramirez also made four All-Star games, won three Silver Slugger awards and finished in the top 10 of the AL MVP voting three times in his stint with Cleveland. Ramirez had a .998 OPS in 967 regular season games with the club.
5. Albert Belle, Left Field (1989-1996)
Outfielder Albert Belle debuted with the Indians in 1989 and played eight seasons with the club. He picked up a lot of accolades in his final seasons with the team. Belle was top three in the AL MVP voting each season from 1994-1996. He had an OPS of over 1.000 in each of those seasons, reaching a single-season high of 1.152 in 1994. He made the All-Star game and won a Silver Slugger award in those three years as well.
6. Travis Hafner, Designated Hitter (2003-2012)
In 1,078 regular-season games with the Indians, Travis Hafner played the field in just 69 of them. He was the DH in Cleveland for the majority of a decade. His slash line in those 1,078 games was .278/.382/.509. Hafner hit 200 long balls, 238 doubles and had 688 RBIs with Cleveland. In 2006, Hafner hit a career-high in home runs with 42. That same season, Hafner led the league in OPS+ at 181.
7. Al Rosen, Third Base (1947-1956)
The Cleveland Indians are the only team that Al Rosen played on in his MLB career. In his first three seasons there, he only played in 35 regular-season games. Then in his fourth season, he played in 155 games, slashing .287/.405/.543 with 37 home runs, 116 RBIs and 100 base on balls. A few years later in 1953, Al Rosen won the AL MVP. He had a career-high 43 homers, 145 RBIs and 115 runs scored that year.
8. Victor Martinez, Catcher (2002-2009)
Victor Martinez spent parts of eight seasons with the Indians. He showed some consistency at the plate, having around a .300 batting average multiple times with his slash line as an Indian being .297/.369/.463. Martinez made his first All-Star game in 2004 and went on to make four more in his career. He also won one Silver Slugger award which came in 2004 when he collected 38 doubles and 23 homers on the year.
9. Lou Boudreau, Shortstop (1938-1950)
Hall of Fame Inductee in 1970
Uniform Number 5 Retired by Indians in 1970
From 1942-1948, Lou Boudreau finished in 10 or better for the American League MVP each season. In 1947, he got third in a year where he hit 45 two-baggers as part of 165 total hits in 150 games. Boudreau won the MVP the following year. That season, he had career highs in homers (18), RBIs (106), base on balls (98) and hits (199). That year was also the most recent World Series by Cleveland. Boudreau had four doubles and three RBIs in that series.
Starting Pitcher- Bob Feller (1936-1941, 1945-1956)
Hall of Fame Inductee in 1962
Uniform Number 19 Retired by Indians in 1956
The Indians were the only team that Bob Feller pitched on in his MLB career. From 1942-1944, he did not play due to military service. Feller pitched a lot of innings, reaching 320 innings pitched three times. In 1940, Feller pitched 320 1/3 innings, recording 261 strikeouts and finishing in second for AL MVP. Then in 1946, Feller pitched a career-high 371 1/3 innings and picked up 348 strikeouts, also a career-high.
Closing Pitcher- Cody Allen (2012-2018)
After pitching seven seasons with the Indians, Cody Allen finished his time on the team with a 2.98 ERA. He pitched in 440 2/3 innings, recording 593 strikeouts. Allen pitched a single-season high 70 1/3 innings in 2013. He had a 2.43 ERA with 88 strikeouts, as well as finished sixth for AL Rookie of the Year in 2013. In the Postseason, Allen pitched 20 1/3 innings with the Tribe. His first two seasons in the playoffs were 2013 and 2016 where he pitched a combined 14 scoreless innings.
Feature Image Courtesy of neosportsinsiders.com