Although they haven’t won a World Series since 1948, the Cleveland Indians haven’t gone without recognition. While nothing can replace the prestige of a World Series win, there have been quite a few other awards that have come the Tribe’s way throughout the years. They’re not World Series rings but, in true Cleveland fashion, they are all, of course, major awards.
Along with winning the World Series in 1948, the Indians garnered some individual player recognitions, as well. Lou Boudreau was far and wide recognized as one of the most vital assets to that 1948 team, winning the Most Valuable Player award, The Sporting News Player of the Year, and The Sporting News AL Player of the Year. The Sporting News also recognized teammate Bob Lemon as the AL Pitcher of the Year in 1948, giving the Indians a few extra gloating opportunities.
The Indians had a few more brushes with glory in the 1950s, despite their teams as a whole not being able to make it back to the World Series’ winners’ circle. Al Rosen was named the 1953 MVP, and Herb Score was the Rookie of the Year in 1955. Score also earned the title of Rookie Pitcher of the Year from The Sporting News, where Lemon was again named the AL Pitcher of the Year.
In his rookie year, Score had a 16-10 record and pitched in 33 games. He posted a 2.85 ERA and threw eleven complete games to start his career, including two shutouts. He lead the league with 245 strikeouts and was named an All-Star. He had a similarly impressive season in 1956, with a 20-9 record and a league-leading 263 strikeouts in 35 games. He also led the league with five shutouts. Although Score didn’t earn any major awards in 1956, he was again an All-Star and finished 19th in MVP voting. Score pitched until 1962, when he retired and began a broadcast career with the Indians in 1964. He was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame in 2006 and was a member of the 1992 class of the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame. Score was also recognized for his broadcasting abilities, and was inducted into the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame (class of 1996), the Cleveland Press Club Journalism Hall of Fame (class of 1998), and the Ohio Broadcasters Hall of Fame (class of 1998).
Score, of course, wasn’t the Indians’ only Rookie of the Year. Chris Chambliss earned the award in 1971, Joe Charboneau in 1980, and Sandy Alomar Jr. in 1990. Jody Gerut was named The Sporting News’ MLB Rookie of the Year in 2003, but finished fourth in the BBWAA’s vote in the American League. Francisco Lindor, of course, was a finalist for the 2015 Rookie of the Year award, but the honor went to Astros shortstop Carlos Correa. Alomar became the first rookie catcher to start an All-Star Game and was also awarded a Golden Glove Award in his rookie year. Including his rookie season, Alomar was a six-time All Star.
The 1990s had no shortage of prominent players for the Tribe, as Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, Matt Williams, and Roberto Alomar were all awarded Golden Gloves (Lofton received four, Vizquel six in the 1990s and eight total in his career with the Indians, Alomar two total, and Williams one). The 1990s also had the Tribe recognized for their hitting abilities, with the team receiving eleven total Silver Slugger Awards between Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, David Justice, Matt Williams, and Roberto Alomar.
Although the Golden Gloves and Silver Slugger Awards slowed down after the powerful 1990s, the Indians have not gone unrecognized. Grady Sizemore received two Golden Gloves and a Silver Slugger, Juan Gonzalez and Victor Martinez were Silver Slugger awardees, and 2014 had both Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes receiving the Silver Slugger Award.
Of course, the Indians have also had a number of outstanding pitchers in their midst who have gotten major recognition. Jose Mesa was the Reliever of the Year in 1995, helping the Indians reach their first World Series since 1954. In a shocking turn, though, Mesa became the bad guy only two seasons later when he failed to hold on to a one-run lead in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. He was traded mid-way through the following season.
Cleveland pitchers seem to struggle a bit after their recognition. Gaylord Perry, C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Corey Kluber have all been Cy Young Award winners, and half of those players have been gone from Cleveland the season after they won. Perry spent two more years with the Tribe after his win in 1972, but Sabathia and Lee have become long-standing points of aggravation for Cleveland fans. Sabathia won the Cy Young in 2007 and was traded in 2008 to the Milwaukee Brewers in the trade that brought Brantley to Cleveland. Lee suffered a similar fate after winning the Cy Young the following year in 2008 – he was promptly traded to the Phillies in 2009 for a number of players, including Carlos Carrasco. Thus far, Kluber has stayed off the trading block.
But, of course, many of these awards could not be possible without these players’ managers, working with them to give them the best possible opportunities for individual and team success. Not to be taken for granted, the Indians managers have also received recognition for their work with the team. Mike Hargrove won AL Manager of the Year in 1995 after leading the Indians to their first World Series since 1954. Eric Wedge was the AL Manager of the Year in 2007, and Terry Francona was named AL Manager of the Year in 2013.