With the end of year (and decade) approaching, we here at The Dugout Sports Show would like to present our “Cleveland Indians All-Decade Team”. After hours of studying stats, and much careful consideration, we put together the best seasons at each individual position. Enjoy!
The Cleveland Indians were 816-804 during the decade, including 9-8 in the postseason, winning one postseason series, which came in 2007 against the New York Yankees.
Season of the Decade: 2007 (96-66 season; 7-5 postseason)
Season Notes: AL Central Division Champions, ALCS Appearance
Catcher: Victor Martinez-2007
AB: 562 R: 78 H: 169 2B: 40 HR: 25 RBI: 114 BA: .301 SLG: .505
Season Notes: AL All-Star, Seventh in AL MVP Voting
One of the game’s elite offensive catchers, he was arguably the club’s Most Valuable Player in establishing new career-highs in HR and RBI. Never mind his throwing runners out percentage, Martinez was one of the reasons why the Indians made it to the postseason in 2007. Also, he is arguably the teams catcher of the decade as well.
Honorable Mention: Martinez-2005, Einar Diaz-2001
First Base: Jim Thome-2002
AB: 480 R: 101 H: 146 2B: 19 HR: 52 RBI: 118 BB: 122 BA: .304 SLG: .677
Season Notes: Seventh in AL MVP Voting
In his final year with the Indians, Thome put up astronomical numbers, as he was second in the AL in HR. He then went to the Philadelphia Phillies via free agency, but left as one of the best first basemen in Indians history.
Honorable Mention: Thome-2001
Second Base: Roberto Alomar-2001
AB: 575 R: 113 H: 193 2B: 34 3B: 12 HR: 20 RBI: 100 BA: .336 SLG: .541
Season Notes: AL All-Star, AL Gold Glove, Forth in AL MVP Voting
Combining with Omar Vizquel as the best double-play combo in the game, Alomar not only put on a show up with middle, but also in the batters box. He helped lead the Indians to the playoffs in 2001. However, some question his intensity during the playoff series vs. Mariners
Honorable Mention: Ronnie Belliard-2004
Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta-2005
AB: 504 R: 82 H: 147 2B: 35 HR: 24 RBI: 78 BA: .292 SLG: .520
Season Notes: Most HR in a year for Indians SS
I know I may get some heckling with my choice of Peralta at shortstop, but keep in mind this is going by the best season during the decade. No doubt Vizquel is the Indians shortstop of the decade, but Peralta had the best overall season in 2005.
Honorable Mention: Vizquel-2000
Third Base: Travis Fryman-2000
AB: 574 R: 93 H: 184 2B: 38 HR: 22 RBI: 106 BA: .321 SLG: .516
Season Notes: AL All-Star, AL Gold Glove, 17th in AL MVP Voting
We were lucky in the late 90s and early 00s to have steady third baseman—from Thome, to Matt Williams, to Fryman, we always got consistent numbers at the corner spot. Heck, I’ll even take Fryman to play third base in 2010.
Honorable Mention: Casey Blake-2006
Outfield: Manny Ramirez-2000
AB: 439 R: 92 H: 154 2B: 34 HR: 38 RBI: 122 BA: .351 SLG: .697
Season Notes: AL All-Star, AL Silver Slugger, Sixth in AL MVP Voting
What can we say, us Indians fans were the first to experience Manny being Manny. Maybe not to the degree the Boston Red Sox or Los Angeles Dodgers have, but there were some classic Manny moments in Cleveland. But bottom line, this kid could hit. He also homered in his final at-bat in an Indians uniform.
Outfield: Grady Sizemore-2006
AB: 655 R: 134 H: 190 2B: 53 3B: 11 HR: 28 RBI: 76 SB: 22 BA: .290 SLG: .533
Season Notes: AL All-Star, 11th in AL MVP Voting
Sizemore broke onto the scene in 2005, and quickly became one of the Indians most likable players. He is a triple threat with his hitting, fielding, and speed. He could very well be on the next All-Indians Decade team.
Outfield: Juan Gonzalez-2001
AB: 532 R: 97 H: 173 2B: 34 HR: 35 RBI: 140 BA: .325 SLG: .590
Season Notes: AL All-Star, AL Silver Slugger, Fifth in AL MVP Voting
Gonzalez was only with the Indians for one year, but boy, what a year it was. Using Jacobs Field as if it was a bandbox, Gonzalez seemed to hit every pitch on a line. He used 2001 to resurrect his career but never had a season like this again.
Honorable Mention: Sizemore-2005, Shin-Soo Choo-2009
Designated Hitter: Travis Hafner-2006
AB: 454 R: 100 H: 140 2B: 31 HR: 42 RBI: 117 BA: .308 SLG: .659
Season Notes: Eighth in AL MVP Voting
Set new single-season club records for HR and RBI as a DH. On the year he was 8-for-14 with a club record six HR and 30 RBI with the bases loaded. Injuries have slowed him down the last few years, but can he return to 2006 form?
Honorable Mention: Ellis Burks-2002
Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee-2008
GS: 31 W: 22 L: 3 ERA: 2.54 CG: 4 SHO: 2 IP: 223.1 SO: 170
Season Notes: AL Cy Young, AL All-Star, 12th in AL MVP Voting
After not even making the playoff roster in 2007, Lee posted one of the most historic seasons in the history of the American League and one of the best ever turned in by a left-handed pitcher in club history. Also won the AL Comeback Player of the Year award.
Starting Pitcher: Fausto Carmona-2007
GS: 32 W: 19 L: 8 ERA: 3.06 CG: 2 SHO: 1 IP: 215 SO: 137
Season Notes: Fourth in AL Cy Young Voting, 23rd in AL MVP Voting
Posted one of the finest seasons by an Indians right-handed pitcher in recent memory. What is more amazing about Carmona’s year is that he started the season suffering a 6-4 loss to Chicago, which extended his losing streak to 11, dating back to 4/20/06.
Starting Pitcher: CC Sabathia-2007
GS: 34 W: 19 L: 7 ERA: 3.21 CG: 4 SHO: 1 IP: 241 SO: 209
Season Notes: AL Cy Young, AL All-Star, 14th in AL MVP Voting
In his final full year with the Tribe, CC led the Indians to the postseason for the first time since 2001. But honestly, we will all remember CC for his performance against the Red Sox in the 07 ALCS.
Honorable Mention: Lee-2005, Sabathia-2001, Bartolo Colon-2002, Jake Westbrook-2004
Relief Pitcher: Rafael Perez-2007
G: 44 W: 1 L: 2 SV: 1 ERA: 1.78 IP: 60.2 SO: 62
Relief Pitcher: Rafael Betancourt-2007
G: 68 W: 5 L: 1 SV: 3 ERA: 1.47 IP: 79.1 SO: 80
These two Rafaels combined to be the best right-handed/left-handed bullpen combos in the game during the 2007 season. One could argue that they are the reason the Indians made it so far in the postseason that year.
Relief Pitcher: Bobby Howry-2005
G: 79 W: 7 L: 4 SV: 3 ERA: 2.47 IP: 73 SO: 48
We take a consistent bullpen for granted sometimes, and I know you are scratching your head seeing Howry on this list, but the man helped the Indians win 93 ballgames in 2005. I bet all of us would like to see this guy back in the Indians bullpen.
Closing Pitcher: Bob Wickman-2005
G: 64 W: 0 L: 4 SV: 45 ERA: 2.47 IP: 62 SO: 41
Season Notes: AL All-Star, 26th in AL MVP Voting
I’m pretty sure Wickman and Joe Borowski kept the Cleveland Clinic heart center busy while being the Indians closers. No three run leads were safe with these guys on the mound in the ninth. But while they get no style points, they did get the job done more times than not.
Honorable Mention: Borowski-2007
Decade MVP: CC Sabathia (2001-08)
While I hate to give this to a current Yankee, Sabathia did earn this honor. Winning 106 games during his seven and a half seasons with the Tribe, he led the Indians to the postseason twice (2001, 2007). Add 16 complete games, including five shutouts, and no other player comes close to winning this award.
Runner Up: Grady Sizemore-(2004-Present)
Manager of Decade: Eric Wedge (2003-09)
2007 AL Manager of the Year, One Playoff Appearance
You can say Wedge wins by default for managing seven years during the decade, but look at what he had to manage during some of those years. Trading away not one, but two Cy Young winners during the decade doesn’t help either. With only one playoff appearance in seven years, he had more chances than a lot of other managers.