Designated Hitter Wraps Up The Indians All-Time Team
By Ronnie Tellalian
The Indians All-Time team wraps up with the designated hitter. This choice is admittedly biased since I chose my favorite player for the DH spot. To me, he was an exciting player to watch and I was glued to the screen for every plate appearance. He is arguably the best leadoff hitter in Indians history and possibly the best of the 1990’s. His return to Cleveland after a six year hiatus was a lasting memory and tribute to a true Indians great.
Designated Hitter: Kenny Lofton
Lofton came over to the Indians from the Astros in a trade that sent Ed Taubensee to Houston in 1992. In his rookie year he stole an American League leading 66 bases. His total in 1992 is still the AL record for a rookie. He led the league in stolen bases five straight seasons from 1992-1996. He spent 10 years in Cleveland making six all-star games and winning four gold gloves. He led the league in hits in 1994 and triples in 1995 and hit .300 or better for five straight seasons from 1993-1997. For his career in Cleveland he amassed 1,512 hits with a slash line of .300/.375/.426. He is the Indians All-Time leader in stolen bases with 452 and he is third All-Time in runs scored.
Lofton’s post season play was up and down. He shined in the 1995 ALDS and again in the 2007 ALDS, batting .375 in both series. His most memorable series came in the ALCS against the Seattle Mariners. For the six game set he batted .458 with 11 hits, two triples and five stolen bases. In game six against Randy Johnson, Lofton helped clinch the Tribe’s World Series birth when he raced home to score from second base on a past ball to give the Indians a 3-0 lead and the eventual win. His place as the designated hitter rounds out the 22 man roster of the All-Time team.
My All-Time Indians team consisted of 22 players, 11 pitcher, 12 hitters, and Mike Hargrove as the manager. The players have been broken down by decade using a few strict criteria. Any player that played in at least six years of a decade was given credit for playing in that decade. The only exception is a player that missed time in the 1940’s due to World War II. A player can get credit for more than one decade by playing in the required six years. Players only got credit for seasons they played with the Indians and if a player did not play six years in any single decade for the Indians, the decade in which he played the most was given credit.
Under those rules only two decades are not represented, the 1910’s and the 1970’s. The 1960’s and the 1980’s have only one player each, and the 1900’s, 1920’s, 1930’s and 2000’s have two each. Three decades tied for the most representatives with five each, the 1940’s, 1950’s, and the 1990’s. Those three decades have also been the three most successful decades in Indians history, so it’s not surprising that they contain the best players.
The teams pitching rotation and bullpen would be ordered as follows:
SP Bob Feller
SP Addie Joss
SP Sam McDowell
SP Bob Lemon
SP Mel Harder
MR Eric Plunk
CL Doug Jones
CF Tris Speaker
2B Nap Lajoie
LF Earl Averill
3B Al Rosen
1B Jim Thome
RF Larry Doby
SS Lou Boudreau
C Sandy Alomar Jr
DH Kenny Lofton
The All-Time team is a great point of discussion and it is topics like this that make baseball unique. In no other sport do fans argue back and forth over history of the sport. Many players deserved to be on this team but just missed the cut. Guys like Hal Trosky, Stan Coveleski, Omar Vizquel, and Jim Hegan were right on the bubble but just fell short of this list. That isn’t to say that they are not All-Time greats, they just didn’t quite make the team. Their absence is a testament to the rich history of the Cleveland Indians.
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