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Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 24

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 24

| On 02, Mar 2020

Baseball takes little time off in between seasons, so neither can we. Follow along at Did the Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to March 26, when the Cleveland Indians host the Detroit Tigers for game one of the 2020 season. – BT

Countdown to Opening Day – 24 days

Domingo Santana will look to do something that his predecessor in the number 24, Carlos Gonzalez, was unable to do during a short stint in Cleveland a year ago – contribute consistently to the team’s success.

Santana signed an incentive-laden, Indians-affordable one-year deal for $1.5 million just before the start of spring training. Cleveland holds a team option over him for the 2021 season.

Santana, 27, put up some of the best numbers of his career in 2019 while playing in his lone season with Seattle, posting a .253/.329/.441 slash with 20 doubles, 21 homers, and 69 RBI in 121 games as a corner outfielder for the Mariners. He has spent parts of each of the last six seasons in the Majors, with the bulk of the work occurring with the Milwaukee Brewers from 2015-2018 after playing in 20 games for the Houston Astros in 2014 and 2015.

The Indians will hope that Santana can help plug holes in the corner outfield spots on the 25-man roster as part of a rather large outfield competition occurring in Goodyear, Arizona, this spring.

Gonzalez was a late spring signing for the Indians last March and opened the year at Triple-A Columbus, ahead of an opt-out date. A scratch off lottery ticket for the Tribe, he got the call-up to the Majors on April 14 and took the field 30 times for the Indians, hitting .210 with a .282 on-base percentage and .276 slugging mark with a double, two homers, and seven RBI. With the offense struggling and his own production doing little to help, the Indians designated Gonzalez for assignment late in the second month of the season and gave him his release on May 26.

He later signed with the Cubs and worked at both the MLB and Triple-A levels there, hitting .175 with a .306 OBP and a .300 slugging percentage in 15 games for Chicago. He is in camp with the Mariners on a minor league deal with a non-roster invite.

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The last player before Gonzalez to wear the number 24 for the Indians, 6’7” reliever Andrew Miller, saw his Indians tenure come to a disappointing end in 2018, as the once-dominating southpaw was limited to just 37 games throughout the season (his fewest since 2013) as he battled through several injuries (left hamstring strain, right knee inflammation, left shoulder impingement) during the final year of his contract in Cleveland. The one-time postseason hero and ALCS MVP in 2016 went 2-4 with a 4.24 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP, the latter two of which were the worst marks of his career since becoming a full-time reliever. The Cardinals signed him to a two-year, $25 million contract with a vesting/club option for a third in St. Louis last winter, but his first year numbers were far from his norm as the 34-year-old went 5-6 in 73 games with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP with 70 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings.

Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

Miller joined the Indians at the trade deadline in 2016 from the New York Yankees and his impact was immediate and impressive. He teamed with Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw to give Cleveland a lethal back end of the bullpen, and that trio helped carry the Tribe deep into the postseason while the starting rotation was spread thin after injuries to several starters eliminated some of the best arms on the staff from contributing to the Indians’ championship dreams. Miller made 26 appearances in his first year with the Indians, going 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA and a 0.55 WHIP with three saves and nine holds in 29 total innings of work.

Some might call that body of work video game numbers, but he continued his strong performance well into October, when he was named the American League Championship Series MVP for a portion of his postseason work. He appeared in ten games and worked in 19 1/3 innings, striking out 30 batters while earning two wins, one save, and five holds. He made eight straight scoreless appearances before giving up homers in his final two outings in the World Series.

During the 2017 season, he returned to the mound in 57 games and logged 62 2/3 innings of work, going 4-3 with two saves, 27 holds, a 1.44 ERA, and a 0.83 WHIP. He lost time late in the season after landing on the disabled list twice in the month of August while dealing with a right knee injury.

While the cost for Miller was high – top prospect outfielder Clint Frazier (who debuted for the Yankees in 2017), highly touted young arm Justus Sheffield (since shipped to Seattle), and relievers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen – the return on that investment was initially stellar for Cleveland, as Miller provided a dominating left-hander to balance out what was predominantly a right-handed arsenal and helped shoulder the loss of several members of the starting rotation in the latter stages of the 2016 season. Unfortunately for the Indians, he was of less use in 2017 and 2018, as his injuries minimized his on-the-field contributions.

Prior to Miller’s All-Star body of work in the number 24, plenty of others have worn the number with success for the Tribe.

Grady Sizemore, the longtime fan favorite whose career derailed after injuries finally caught up to the young star, was rarely absent from the lineup in the early days of his Tribe time.

Chuck Solomon/Getty Images

Chuck Solomon/Getty Images

Sizemore fought back through injuries that cost him his final several seasons in Cleveland and was able to return to the diamond for a pair of seasons with Boston, Philadelphia, and Tampa. He was one of several pieces acquired by the Indians from the Expos in 2002 when Cleveland dealt starter Bartolo Colon to Montreal. Sizemore not only became a regular in the lineup, but contributed at surprisingly high levels. Twice he appeared in all 162 games in a season and he was named an All-Star in three straight seasons from 2006 to 2008. His 53 doubles in 2006 led the league and were the third highest total of two-baggers in franchise history. He showed surprising pop, hitting as many as 33 homers in ’08, and knocked in as many as 90 runs. He was at least a 20 homer/20 stolen base guy in four straight seasons and became just the second 30/30 man in club history in that ’08 season.

By 2009, the body started to fail him and he appeared in just 210 games over the next three seasons, hitting .234 with 28 homers and 109 RBI. He emerged at the Major League level again in 2014 and 2015, spending time with Boston, Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay before calling it a career.

Then there was Manny Ramirez, who majestic moonshots and “wow” moments, as well as absent-minded mental errors on the field, were certainly worthy of notice.

When Ramirez came up to the Majors as a 21-year-old rookie in 1993, he claimed the number last used by Glenallen Hill two seasons earlier. While his September call-up was largely uneventful (.170 average, one double, two homers, and five runs batted in over 22 games), it did set the stage for a big season in the strike-shortened 1994 campaign. At the time of the work stoppage, he was hitting .269 with 17 homers and 60 RBI in 91 games and finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting to Kansas City’s Bob Hamelin in one of many ROY robbings for the Indians organization over the years.

When play resumed late in 1995, Ramirez proved that he was on the big stage for good as he began his torrid destruction and dismantling of baseballs around the game. He made his first of 12 All-Star squads that season and hit .308 with 26 doubles, 31 homers, and 107 RBI. He improved it all the next season, batting .309 with 45 doubles, 33 homers, and 112 RBI. He hit .328 in 1997, hit 45 homers and drove in 145 runs in his second All-Star season in Cleveland in 1998, and exceeded that production with a .333 average, 44 homers, and a league-best 165 RBI, good enough for another All-Star appearance and a third-place finish in the MVP voting for the 1999 season.

He was limited to 118 games in what was his final season in Cleveland in 2000. Despite his shortened season, he was an All-Star again and a terror in the lineup, batting .351 with 34 doubles, 38 homers, and 122 RBI. He bailed for Boston after the season, ending his eight years in the number 24 as one of the more memorable Indians players in the last few decades. He made eight straight All-Star teams for Boston and was named the MVP of the 2004 World Series, the first of two rings he got as a member of the Red Sox.

Terry Francona – 1989 Upper Deck

Current Tribe manager Terry Francona and his pops, the late Tito Francona, each wore the number for Cleveland at some point in their Indians playing careers.

The Franconas appear to be the only father-son duo in Indians history to wear the same number during their times in the city. While Terry played just 62 games with the Indians in 1988 (while also spending time at Triple-A Colorado Springs), his father Tito spent six of his 15 MLB seasons in Cleveland. The elder Francona joined his fourth organization when he arrived in Ohio, working as a regular in the corner outfield spots as well as first base. He finished fifth in the MVP voting in 1959 with a .363 average in his first season in Cleveland and led the AL with 36 doubles in 1960. The next season, he was an All-Star for his only such honor of his career.

And you should not forget, but likely have, that Hall of Fame pitcher and 300-game winner Early Wynn also sported a two-four on his back on the mound at Cleveland Stadium during the first nine of his ten years in the city.

Wynn came to Cleveland after eight seasons on a generally bad Washington Senators club. Just twice in his time with the club did they finish with a winning record and, both times, they finished in second place. His departure from the nation’s capital was timely, as the Senators finished 50-104 in 1949 without him while the Indians finished 89-69 and in third place in the AL in their 1948 title defense, but 15 games behind front-running New York.

He put together some strong seasons as the Tribe tried to get back to their pennant-winning ways, winning 20 games in 1951 and a career-best 23 in 1952. When the Indians succeeded in that goal in 1954, it was in part due to the 23-11 record and 2.73 ERA that Wynn put together over 40 games (which also included three shutouts and 20 complete games). He would start a six-year All-Star appearance run the following season, but only three of those came in Cleveland. He was dealt to the Chicago White Sox after the 1957 season, just before his 38th birthday.

Wynn was not washed up, as he would go 22-10 with a 3.17 ERA while making a league-high 37 starts and winning the AL Cy Young award at the age of 39. His numbers tailed off in his 40s as he pitched in his fourth decade, and he was able to return to the source of his most sustained success in the Majors in Cleveland in his final season in 1963, when his only win on the year was a milestone – the 300th of his Hall of Fame career (that win came in the number 38).

Plenty of others had the number before Wynn, but possibly the most successful of that group of 15 or so players was Jeff Heath. The multi-faceted outfielder wore several different numbers during a ten-year stretch to begin his MLB career with the Indians from 1936 to 1945. He was a two-time All-Star, named in 1941 and again in 1943. In his first full season with the club in 1938, he hit .343 and had a balanced extra base attack, hitting 31 doubles, an MLB-leading 18 triples, and 21 homers to go with 112 RBI. He replicated the feat in 1941, hitting 32 doubles, again leading the Majors with 20 triples, adding 24 homers, and knocking in 123 while batting .340.

Other notable 24s in Tribe history: Sal Gliatto (the first in 1930), Denny Galehouse (1934), Bob Kennedy (1948), Eddie Leon (1968-71), Charlie Spikes (1973-77), George Vukovich (1983-85), Reggie Jefferson (1991), Milton Bradley (2002-03), Michael Bourn (2013-15).

Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

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Miss out on our other Countdown pieces? Check out more Indians history below!

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 99 (Daniel Robertson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 90 (Adam Cimber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 88 (Phil Maton)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 77 (Jack Armstrong)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 76 (Tom Magrann)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 75 (Mike Walker)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 73 (Ricardo Rincon)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 72 (Jason Giambi)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 71 (Johnny Hodapp)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 70 (James Karinchak, George Kontos)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 69 (Luis Medina)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 68 (Jefry Rodriguez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 67 (Aaron Civale, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 66 (Yasiel Puig, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 65 (Zach Plesac, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 64 (Tom Kramer, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 63 (Josh Smith, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 62 (Nick Wittgren, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 61 (Dan Otero, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 60 (Jhonny Peralta, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 59 (Carlos Carrasco)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 58 (Neil Ramirez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 57 (Shane Bieber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 56 (Cody Anderson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 55 (Roberto Perez)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 54 (Hunter Wood)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 53 (Logan Allen)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 52 (Mike Clevinger)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 51 (numerous)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 50 (James Hoyt, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 49 (Tyler Olson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 48 (Emmanuel Clase, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 47 (Trevor Bauer)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 46 (Jon Edwards, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 45 (Adam Plutko)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 44 (Nick Goody, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 43 (Josh Tomlin, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 42 (Mike Jackson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 41 (Carlos Santana, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 40 (Bobby Bradley, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 39 (Oliver Perez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 38 (Eric Haase, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 37 (Cody Allen, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 36 (Tyler Clippard, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 35 (Oscar Mercado, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 34 (A.J. Cole, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 33 (Brad Hand, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 32 (Franmil Reyes, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 31 (Danny Salazar, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 30 (Tyler Naquin, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 29 (Andre Thornton)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 28 (Corey Kluber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 27 (Kevin Plawecki, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 26 (Max Moroff, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 25 (Jim Thome)

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