1952 Bowman #115 Larry Doby

The Indians joined the American League in 1901 but were known as the Blues that year. In 1902 they were called the Broncos, and in 1902 they were called the Naps. They stuck with that name until 1915, when they were finally branded as the Indians.

From 1901 to 1947, the Indians finished first just once, in 1920, when the won the World Series. They won it again in 1948, and made it but lost in 1954. They then went through a terrible stretch in the 1960′s, 70′s, and 80′s when they were routinely one of the worst teams in the league (hence why they were the subject of the movie Major League). Come 1994, though, they had a core of good young players. The Indians were the first team to lock up young players prior to free agency, giving them above-market contracts for arbitration-eligible players, and it paid off. After a 2nd-place finish that year, they rung off 5 straight 1st-place finishes (although they made the World Series twice, they lost both times.) Since then, it’s been up-and-down, with additional playoff appearances in 2001 and 2007, but no titles since 1948.

Let’s take a look at who belongs on their monument.

Top 15 hitters by WAR:

Rk Player WAR/pos From To
1 Nap Lajoie 76.4 1902 1914
2 Tris Speaker 71.0 1916 1926
3 Lou Boudreau 57.9 1938 1950
4 Kenny Lofton 46.3 1992 2007
5 Earl Averill 45.2 1929 1939
6 Jim Thome 45.0 1991 2011
7 Joe Sewell 41.7 1920 1930
8 Larry Doby 41.4 1947 1958
9 Terry Turner 35.5 1904 1918
10 Shoeless Joe Jackson 33.6 1910 1915
11 Bill Bradley 33.0 1901 1910
12 Al Rosen 30.8 1947 1956
13 Ken Keltner 30.4 1937 1949
14 Elmer Flick 29.4 1902 1910
15 Manny Ramirez 28.0 1993 2000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/13/2012.

Amazing that only Lofton, Ramirez, and Thome make an appearance from the late 1990s teams. Lofton is probably most-associated with the Indians but moved around a lot, and Manny is most-associated with the Red Sox.

Quite a few of these guys spent a big chunk of their time with other teams. Lajoie rose to fame with both Philadelphia franchises. Speaker played 7 full seasons with the Red Sox before the Indians. Thome played quite a few years with the Phillies and White Sox. Speaking of White Sox, when you hear the name Shoeless Joe Jackson, I doubt it’s the Indians of whom you think.

That makes it sort of tough to decide who should go the Indians’ monument, since many of these players are associated with other teams.

Let’s look at the pitchers:

Rk Player WAR From To
1 Bob Feller 59.9 1936 1956
2 Stan Coveleski 51.8 1916 1924
3 Addie Joss 43.4 1902 1910
4 Mel Harder 42.2 1928 1947
5 Sam McDowell 39.7 1961 1971
6 Bob Lemon 34.7 1946 1958
7 Early Wynn 33.6 1949 1963
8 Willis Hudlin 28.7 1926 1940
9 Mike Garcia 28.7 1948 1959
10 Wes Ferrell 28.1 1927 1933
11 Gaylord Perry 27.4 1972 1975
12 George Uhle 26.3 1919 1936
13 Jim Bagby 26.0 1916 1922
14 CC Sabathia 25.7 2001 2008
15 Luis Tiant 24.5 1964 1969
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/13/2012.

Hmm…a similar story. Lots of names we don’t necessarily associate primarily with the Indians.

I am guessing Boudreau and Speaker will get credit for being both great players and managers of championship teams. Toss in Lajoie and Feller, and maybe this one’s a slam dunk.

Please vote for 4.

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