Shoeless Joe, Sudden Sam, and Rapid Robert: All-time best Cleveland Indians

This year’s World Series pits the Cleveland Indians against the Chicago Cubs. The Indians have not won a World Series since before I was born. The Cubs haven’t played in a World Series since before I was born. And they haven’t won one since before my father was born.

The bad news is that these facts will continue to give rise to a lot of rubbish about “curses.” The good news is that I will be happy regardless of which team ends its long champion-less streak.

Since these franchises go back to the early days of baseball, I thought it would be fun to name an all-team best squad for each. Let’s start with the Tribe.

Starters:

C Sandy Alomar, Jr. — Made six all-star games as an Indian. Batted .324 with 18 homers and 83 RBIs on the 1997 pennant winning team.

1B Jim Thome — Six years of 100-plus RBIs and walks and 30-plus homers.

2B Napoleon Lajoie — Won three batting titles and one RBI crown with Cleveland.

SS Lou Boudreau — Was the playing manager and League MVP in 1948, when the Tribe last won the World Series.

3B Al Rosen — MVP in 1953. Averaged 114 RBIs over a five year stretch.

OF “Shoeless” Joe Jackson — Batted .408 in 1911 and .395 in 1912. (Wasn’t an Indian when he took money to tank the World Series)

OF Tris Speaker — Hit .388 as playing manager for the 1920 World Series winner. Generally considered the best center fielder of the first half of the 20th century.

OF Manny Ramirez — Led the AL in slugging and OPS as an Indian in 1999 and 2000.

DH Albert “Joey” Belle — Five straight 100-plus RBI seasons for Cleveland and led the AL twice.

P Bob Feller — “Rapid Robert” (aka “The Heater from Van Meter”) won 266 games for Cleveland despite missing nearly four years due to WWII.

Reserves:

Victor Martinez — Three all-star games and three 100-plus RBI seasons.

Hal Trosky — Drove in more than 100 runs six times, including 162 in 1936.

Roberto Alomar — Sandy’s brother was an all-star in all three of his seasons with the Tribe.

Joe Sewell — This Hall of Fame shortstop averaged well over .300 for the 1920s as an Indian.

Larry Doby — Smashed the AL color barrier in 1947. Made seven straight all-star teams. MVP runner-up in 1954.

Kenny Lofton — Made the Indians of the 1990s go as a .300 hitter and five time league leader in stolen bases.

Earl Averill — Made six consecutive all-star games in the 1930s. In one of them, his liner broke Dizzy Dean’s toe.

Extra Pitchers:

Bob Lemon — Won 207 games for the Indians, with seven 20 win seasons.

Addie Joss — 160 wins, 97 losses and a 1.89 ERA in the first decade of the last century.

Mel Harder — Won 223 games for the Tribe and made four all-star teams.

“Sudden” Sam McDowell — Six time all-star, five time AL strike-out leader, one time ERA king.

Wes Ferrell — Won 91 games for Cleveland during a four-year period in the early 1930s. In his last year with the Tribe, he was a member of the first AL all-star team.

Early Wynn — Won 20 games four times and was thrice an all-star as an Indian.

Stan Covelski — He also won 20 games four times for the Indians and like Wynn had another 20 win season for a different club in a pennant winning season. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

Doug Jones — Was on three all-star teams making him the best of a pretty ordinary group of Indians closers.

Manager:

Mike Hargrove — Boudreau had a few more wins, but Hargrove’s percentage is better. The Tribe won two pennants under him.

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