Indians All-Time Team v.2012
Last year's inaugural team can be seen here.
The Indians were one of the eight charter franchises in the American League so they have plenty of history (their Major League roots going back to 1901). Over the years, they've won two World Series titles and five American League pennants. Needless to say, picking this team was very difficult, given the history of this franchise. Most tenuous - the addition of two starting pitchers and an extra infielder. Also challenging - catcher, fourth outfielder and closer. If you want to see who we compared for these positions, check out the chart below..
For closer, we decided that Jose Mesa wasn't the right pick... despite more career saves, Mesa wasn't as effective as Bob Wickman (or arguably Doug Jones) during his tenure in Cleveland and so we went with Wickman, the all-time franchise saves leader.
We carefully evaluated Victor Martinez and Sandy Alomar and landed on the six-time All-Star, Alomar. While V-Mart was the clearly the better offensive backstop, Alomar won a Rookie of the Year award in Cleveland and a Gold Glove. Alomar's defensive prowess set him apart from Martinez.
For the extra infielder, we considered four players - Hal Trosky, Omar Vizquel, Ken Keltner and Joe Sewell. You can see the comparison chart below but inevitably, it ended up coming down to Hal Trosky and Hall of Famer Joe Sewell. In this instance, we went with prime over tenure. Trosky, despite not having played as many games as Sewell (almost two full seasons), nearly equaled the offensive production of Sewell while putting up a very solid 135 OPS+ during his time as an Indian. Interesting note on Sewell... his one stikeout per 62.6 AB ratio ranks second all-time.
Reevaluating our outfield, we felt a strong urge to find a way to get Larry Doby onto this roster. Our knee-jerk reaction was that Kenny Lofton would be the odd man out but when we broke it down, we determined that Albert Belle was arguably the weakest candidate. Belle was easily the most feared hitter of the three but he also played the fewest games of the three and was a cheater in at least one way (corked bat incident). For good measure, we considered Shoeless Joe Jackson but did not add him because most people associate him with the White Sox - his tenure in Cleveland is hardly insignificant (four and a half years) but not enough to warrant making this team.
Last but not least, we had to add two pitchers behind the Bob's in the the rotation... not an easy task. We swayed back and forth as the discussion went on and while we were never actually able to come to consensus on the names (it went to a vote - 2/3 majority), it's clear to each of us that the two names left off this team would make most other All-Time teams. The names we considered were Mel Harder, Sam McDowell, Early Wynn and Mike Garcia. Harder played all 20 seasons of his illustrious career in Cleveland and had his number retired - a fact which weighed heavily in this decision (Harder made this team by the skin of his teeth). McDowell was arguably the best pitcher of the bunch in terms of ability but lacked the hardware and tenure and so he just missed the cut - Wynn, a Hall of Famer, has the best argument from a name recognition standpoint and has the numbers to back up his claim to a spot on this roster so we went with him over McDowell. Garcia was right there with all of them in terms of tenure, adjusted ERA and all-star appearances but just missed out from a pure numbers standpoint.
So here's our squad. Tell us what you think.
C - Sandy Alomar, Jr.
1B - Jim Thome
2B - Nap Lajoie
SS - Lou Boudreau
3B - Al Rosen
IF - Hal Trosky
OF - Tris Speaker
OF - Earl Averill
OF - Kenny Lofton
OF - Larry Doby
SP - Bob Feller
SP - Bob Lemon
SP - Early Wynn
SP - Mel Harder
RP - Bob Wickman