How the Cleveland Indians’ Lineup Dynasty Was Assembled

There’s never really a bad time to “remember some guys,” but with baseball’s return date still up in the air, now seemed like an especially good moment to geek out on some of the best lineups of the past few decades, with a focus on how the groups were assembled. I initially wanted to create a “Top 10 of the Decade” series that would include rankings that were well-balanced between both leagues. But after running the numbers for lineups in the 1990s, I found that the majority of the best lineups were concentrated in the same few teams, mostly led by a core group of hitters performing at an elite level over the course of multiple seasons. The 1998 Houston Astros were the lone National League team that even managed to crack the Top 10 in wOBA, wRC+, or offensive WAR.

Not only did I determine that it would be tricky to rank them relative to each other, it also became clear that one team — the Cleveland Indians — stood out over the rest. Not for one particular season, but for an eight-year run of dominance that began in 1994 and continued into the following decade.

Cleveland’s pitching staffs were typically very good during this period, but the offensive firepower was really something to behold. As I walk you through how these lineups came together, you’ll recognize some Hall of Famers, maybe another future Hall of Famer or two, and a lot of other very good players.

By the time John Hart was promoted to general manager in September 1991, many of the players who would eventually become a core part of the team’s great lineups were either in the minor leagues or just getting their feet wet in the majors. But he certainly had his hand in maintaining the group’s dominance by consistently pulling the right strings when it came to trades and free agency.

Heading into the 1994 season, the Indians were trying to avoid their eighth consecutive losing season. They hadn’t been to the playoffs since 1954, when they lost the World Series in a four-game sweep by the New York Giants. But just as the tides turned for Cleveland in the fictional Major League, which first appeared in movie theaters in 1989, things were about to turn around in real life, too.

While they would fall short during the strike-shortened season — they were 19 games over .500 and one game within the first place Chicago White Sox when the season was called off — the Indians were finally done being a laughingstock around the league. They would go on to win the division in six of the next seven seasons while reaching the World Series in 1995 and 1997. It’s a shame that a team this good could not bring home a championship. A note on the below: overall league rankings are listed in parentheses next to the year. 

1992
HR (10th), Runs (14th), wOBA (11th), wRC+ (15th), Offensive WAR (15th)

A handful of the acquisitions Hart made leading up to the 1994 season helped set the stage for the team’s upcoming success. One of his first moves as general manager was to acquire 24-year-old speedster Kenny Lofton, who was coming off of an unimpressive late-season call-up with the Houston Astros. After a three-hit game in his major league debut on September 14 — he had a pair of singles against starting pitcher Randy Myers and a double off reliever Rob Dibble — Lofton had just 12 singles and four walks over his next 74 plate appearances.

Even with the talented Steve Finley entrenched as the Astros’ center fielder, it’s baffling why the team opted to trade Lofton — who had a .367 OBP with 17 triples and 40 stolen bases in Triple-A — for a pair of unproven and unspectacular young players, catcher Eddie Taubensee and pitcher Willie Blair. It could be the Astros just really needed a catcher — emerging superstar Craig Biggio was on his way to second base after spending his first few big league seasons behind the dish — and Taubensee, coming off of a strong Triple-A season, appeared to be their choice to replace him. As a consequence, the Indians landed their catalyst for seven of those eight aforementioned winning seasons.

A few months later, Hart once again went the trade route to land a young player who was in need of an opportunity. With few at-bats available behind Kent Hrbek and Chili Davis on a talented Minnesota Twins’ team, 26-year-old Paul Sorrento was finally going to get his shot once he was acquired for pitchers Curt Leskanic and Oscar Munoz in March 1992.

With Lofton and Sorrento in the fold, Albert Belle quickly proving to be a force in the middle of the lineup, and the prospects acquired in the Joe Carter trade from years earlier beginning to pay dividends — Sandy Alomar Jr. was Rookie of the Year in 1990 and an All-Star in his first three big league seasons; Carlos Baerga made his first All-Star team in 1992 — the Indians appeared to be headed in the right direction

Cleveland Indians 1992 Lineup
Name Bats Age How Acquired PA HR RBI SB OPS wRC+
1 CF Kenny Lofton L 25 Trade (HOU) Dec’91 651 5 42 66 .727 108
2 LF Thomas Howard S 27 Trade (SDP) Apr’92 387 2 32 15 .654 83
3 2B Carlos Baerga S 23 Trade (SDP) Dec’89 716 20 105 10 .809 125
4 DH Albert Belle R 25 Drafted 2nd Rd (47) ’87 651 34 112 8 .797 121
5 1B Paul Sorrento L 26 Trade (MIN) Mar’92 514 18 60 0 .784 118
6 RF Mark Whiten S 25 Trade (TOR) Jun’91 589 9 43 16 .707 99
7 3B Brook Jacoby R 32 Free Agent (OAK) Jan’92 327 4 36 0 .650 84
8 SS Mark Lewis R 22 Drafted 1st Rd (2) ’88 446 5 30 4 .659 85
9 CF Sandy Alomar Jr. R 26 Trade (SDP) Dec’89 320 2 26 3 .617 72
OF Glenallen Hill R 27 Trade (TOR) Jun’91 394 18 49 9 .723 102

1993
HR (16th), Runs (7th), wOBA (10th), wRC+ (11th), Offensive WAR (11th)

In what would be team’s final losing season for a long time, third base prospect Jim Thome, who had a .615 OPS with three homers in 235 plate appearances over the previous two seasons, would finally prove that he was ready to deliver. He was handed the starting job in mid-August and would become a mainstay in the middle of the Indians’ lineup for the next nine seasons.

A few weeks later, 21-year-old outfielder Manny Ramirez would quietly enter the picture with an 0-for-4 debut on September 2. He homered twice the next day at Yankees Stadium, but would manage only six singles in 47 plate appearances the rest of the way. Fortunately, unlike what the Astros did with Lofton, Hart did not trade Ramirez after he struggled in his late-season debut.

Cleveland Indians 1993
Name Bats Age How Acquired PA HR RBI SB OPS wRC+
1 CF Kenny Lofton L 26 Trade (HOU) Dec’91 657 1 42 70 .816 125
2 RF Wayne Kirby L 29 Free Agent (LAD) Dec’90 511 6 60 17 .694 87
3 2B Carlos Baerga S 24 Trade (SDP) Dec’89 680 21 114 15 .841 122
4 LF Albert Belle R 26 Drafted 2nd Rd (47) ’87 693 38 129 23 .922 140
5 1B Paul Sorrento L 27 Trade (MIN) Mar’92 527 18 65 3 .774 104
6 DH Reggie Jefferson S 24 Trade (CIN) Jun’91 403 10 34 1 .682 81
7 3B Alvaro Espinoza R 31 Free Agent (NYY) Apr’92 283 4 27 2 .678 81
8 SS Felix Fermin R 29 Trade (PIT) Mar’89 514 2 45 4 .620 68
9 C Junior Ortiz R 33 Free Agent (MIN) Dec’91 270 0 20 1 .540 45
C Sandy Alomar Jr. R 27 Trade (SDP) Dec’89 237 6 32 3 .713 92
3B Jim Thome L 22 Drafted 13th Rd ’89 192 7 28 2 .882 131

1994
HR (1st), Runs (1st), wOBA (2nd), wRC+ (3rd), Offensive WAR (3rd)

The young Indians’ lineup was on the rise with just a few more pieces to add to complete the puzzle. Future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray would soon prove that he brought a lot more to the table than just experience and veteran leadership when he signed as a free agent prior to the 1994 season. The 37-year-old, who came to Cleveland with 2,820 hits and 441 homers, would add another 435 hits, 63 homers, and one more big season to his resume before he called it a career.

On December 20, 1993, the Indians acquired Omar Vizquel, a light-hitting shortstop with one Gold Glove under his belt, for Felix Fermin, Reggie Jefferson, and cash. By the time he left the Indians 11 years later, Vizquel had a total of nine Gold Gloves and was considered one of the best defensive shortstops of all-time. And while he never became an elite offensive player, he proved to be so much more than a light-hitting, all-glove shortstop.

Cleveland Indians 1994
Name Bats Age How Acquired PA HR RBI SB OPS wRC+
1 CF Kenny Lofton L 27 Trade (HOU) Dec’91 523 12 57 60 .948 142
2 SS Omar Vizquel S 27 Trade (SEA) Dec’93 322 1 33 13 .650 71
3 2B Carlos Baerga S 25 Trade (SDP) Dec’89 469 19 80 8 .858 114
4 LF Albert Belle R 27 Drafted 2nd Rd (47) ’87 480 36 101 9 1.152 186
5 DH Eddie Murray S 38 Free Agent (NYM) Dec’93 467 17 76 8 .727 81
6 1B Paul Sorrento L 28 Trade (MIN) Mar’92 360 14 62 0 .798 101
7 RF Manny Ramirez R 22 Drafted 1st Rd (13) ’91 336 17 60 4 .878 120
8 3B Jim Thome L 23 Drafted 13th Rd ’89 369 20 52 3 .882 122
9 C Sandy Alomar Jr. R 28 Trade (SDP) Dec’89 320 14 43 8 .837 112

1995
HR (1st), Runs (1st), wOBA (1st), wRC+ (1st), Offensive WAR (1st)

The über-talented Montreal Expos missing out on a chance to win the World Series and Tony Gwynn not getting an opportunity to hit .400 are the two biggest “what-if’s” of the strike-shortened 1994 season. But the Cleveland Indians should not be overlooked. They were an up-and-coming team filled with young talent. It could’ve easily been them in the World Series. Only the strike could slow them down.

As a result of the strike, no major changes were considered necessary heading into the 1995 season, at least as far as the lineup was concerned. Starting pitcher Orel Hershiser, signed a few weeks prior to Opening Day, ended up being another brilliant move by Hart. And it wasn’t a bad choice by Hershiser, either. He would win 45 regular season games and four postseason games with the team over his ages 36-38 season.

Cleveland Indians 1995
Name Bats Age How Acquired PA HR RBI SB OPS wRC+
1 CF Kenny Lofton L 28 Trade (HOU) Nov’91 529 7 53 54 .815 109
2 SS Omar Vizquel S 28 Trade (SEA) Dec’93 622 6 56 29 .684 80
3 2B Carlos Baerga S 26 Trade (SDP) Dec’89 600 15 90 11 .807 107
4 LF Albert Belle R 28 Drafted 2nd Rd (47) ’87 631 50 126 5 1.091 173
5 DH Eddie Murray S 39 Free Agent (NYM) Dec’93 480 21 82 5 .891 128
6 3B Jim Thome L 24 Drafted 13th Rd ’89 557 25 73 4 .996 158
7 RF Manny Ramirez R 23 Drafted 1st Rd (13) ’91 571 31 107 6 .960 145
8 1B Paul Sorrento L 29 Trade (MIN) Mar’92 378 25 79 1 .847 112
9 C Sandy Alomar Jr. R 29 Trade (SDP) Dec’89 218 10 35 3 .810 108

1996
HR (6th), Runs (3rd), wOBA (1st-T), wRC+ (2nd), Offensive WAR (1st)

After losing to the Atlanta Braves in six games, the World Series runner-up would again take the approach of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Aside from the signing of another free agent starting pitcher, Jack McDowell, it was another quiet offseason in Cleveland. With Sorrento departing as a free agent and Murray heading into his age-40 season, the team did add some protection by signing a “younger” first base/designated hitter option in 37-year-old Julio Franco.

Little did anyone know, aside from maybe Franco, that his playing career would not end for more than another decade. His addition proved to be a smart one, as Murray could not replicate his production from the previous season. Brian Giles‘ arrival in the majors also helped to offset Murray’s decline; he would become a lineup regular in the second half.

Cleveland Indians 1996
Name Bats Age How Acquired PA HR RBI SB OPS wRC+
1 CF Kenny Lofton L 29 Trade (HOU) Dec’91 736 14 67 75 .818 107
2 1B Julio Franco R 37 Free Agent (CHW) Dec’95 499 14 76 8 .877 124
3 3B Jim Thome L 25 Drafted 13th Rd ’89 636 38 116 2 1.062 163
4 LF Albert Belle R 29 Drafted 2nd Rd (47) ’87 715 48 148 11 1.033 150
5 RF Manny Ramirez R 24 Drafted 1st Rd (13) ’91 647 33 112 8 .981 140
6 (1H) DH Eddie Murray S 40 Free Agent (NYM) Dec’93 374 12 45 3 .728 83
6 (2H) DH Brian Giles L 25 Drafted 17th Rd ’89 143 5 27 3 1.046 153
7 2B Carlos Baerga S 27 Trade (SDP) Dec’89 453 10 55 1 .698 74
8 CF Sandy Alomar Jr. R 30 Trade (SDP) Dec’89 444 11 50 1 .696 73
9 SS Omar Vizquel S 29 Trade (SEA) Dec’93 623 9 64 35 .779 98

1997
HR (3rd), Runs (4th), wOBA (3rd), wRC+ (2nd), Offensive WAR (2nd)

After a few years of mostly standing pat, it was apparent that change was finally coming. In fact, it had already begun when Baerga was traded to the New York Mets during the ’96 season for young infielders Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino.

Belle was set to get paid as a free agent — he became the highest paid player in the game at the time he signed his five-year, $55 million deal with the White Sox — and Hart would replace him in one of the more controversial moves of his tenure. He traded away one of his own stars, Lofton, to the Braves for outfielders David Justice and Marquis Grissom.

Replacing Baerga at second base would be veteran Tony Fernandez, who signed as a free agent after missing the previous season due to an elbow injury. With Thome now across the diamond as the team’s first baseman, Hart sent Kent and Vizcaino to the San Francisco Giants in a deal for third baseman Matt Williams. While this yielded a terrific short-term payoff for the Indians, Kent was about to begin a long run as one of the best-hitting second baseman in the game.

In retrospect, the trade for Justice and Grissom worked out fine. The Indians went to the World Series again, after all. And even though Grissom wasn’t nearly as good as Lofton in ’97, Justice’s numbers were superior to Belle’s. Plus, it turned out that soon-to-be free agent Lofton had not closed the door on a return to Cleveland.

Cleveland Indians 1997
Name Bats Age How Acquired PA HR RBI SB OPS wRC+
1 CF Marquis Grissom R 30 Trade (ATL) Mar’97 622 12 66 22 .713 84
2 SS Tony Fernandez S 35 Free Agent (NYY) Dec’96 442 11 44 6 .746 93
3 RF Manny Ramirez R 25 Drafted 1st Rd (13) ’91 651 26 88 2 .953 148
4 1B Jim Thome L 26 Drafted 13th Rd ’89 627 40 102 1 1.002 156
5 DH David Justice L 31 Trade (ATL) Mar’97 582 33 101 3 1.014 158
6 3B Matt Williams R 31 Trade (SFG) Nov’96 636 32 105 12 .795 101
7 LF Brian Giles L 26 Drafted 17th Rd ’89 451 17 61 13 .827 115
8 C Sandy Alomar Jr. R 31 Trade (SDP) Dec’89 480 21 83 0 .899 131
9 SS Omar Vizquel S 30 Trade (SEA) Dec’93 642 5 49 43 .715 89

1998
HR (10th), Runs (7th), wOBA (6th-T), wRC+ (10th-T), Offensive WAR (11th)

The return of Lofton, who signed a three-year, $24 million deal on December 8, 1997, nearly six years to the day he was first acquired by the Indians, was the highlight of the team’s offseason. Dwight “Doc” Gooden also signed as a free agent on the same day, although he had very little left in the tank at age 33.

Williams’ one-year stint with the team ended when he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Travis Fryman, who would spend the next five seasons with Cleveland before calling it quits. He had been involved in another trade just two weeks earlier when the Tigers traded him to Arizona for Joe Randa and two other players. While he only played for the Tigers and Indians during his 13-year career, he was officially a member of the Diamondbacks for a short period of time.

Richie Sexson, a 6-foot-7 power-hitter, would get a long look late in the season, while future Reds manager David Bell also contributed to the team before he was traded for Joey Cora on August 31.

Cleveland Indians 1998
Name Bats Age How Acquired PA HR RBI SB OPS wRC+
1 CF Kenny Lofton L 31 Free Agent (ATL) Dec’97 698 12 64 54 .784 106
2 SS Omar Vizquel S 31 Trade (SEA) Dec’93 660 2 50 37 .730 92
3 DH David Justice L 32 Trade (ATL) Mar’97 625 21 88 9 .839 113
4 1B Jim Thome L 27 Drafted 13th Rd ’89 537 30 85 1 .997 152
5 RF Manny Ramirez R 26 Drafted 1st Rd (13) ’91 663 45 145 5 .976 144
6 LF Brian Giles L 27 Drafted 17th Rd ’89 430 16 66 10 .856 121
7 3B Travis Fryman R 29 Trade (ARI) Dec’97 608 28 96 10 .844 115
8 C Sandy Alomar Jr. R 32 Trade (SDP) Dec’89 438 6 44 0 .622 56
9 2B David Bell R 25 Waivers (STL) Apr’98 370 10 41 0 .730 81
OF Mark Whiten S 31 Free Agent (NYY) May’98 259 6 29 2 .797 110
1B/OF Richie Sexson R 23 Drafted 24th Rd ’93 183 11 35 1 .936 137

1999
HR (8th-T), Runs (1st), wOBA (1st), wRC+ (1st), Offensive WAR (1st)

Once again, Hart made a December splash when he signed another future Hall of Famer, Roberto Alomar, to a multi-year contract. It proved to be great timing, as Alomar gave the Indians the last three great seasons he had left in him.

Hart did make a rare blunder during this offseason, however. He traded Giles to the Pittsburgh Pirates straight up for lefty reliever Ricardo Rincon. While the move opened up playing time for Sexson, who had 31 homers, Giles was about to break out with four consecutive MVP-caliber seasons. Rincon was a good relief pitcher and certainly contributed to the Indians’ success for a few years, but it still had to be one of the more regrettable trades of Hart’s career.

Cleveland Indians 1999
Name Bats Age How Acquired PA HR RBI SB OPS wRC+
1 CF Kenny Lofton L 32 Free Agent (ATL) Dec’97 561 7 39 25 .837 118
2 SS Omar Vizquel S 32 Trade (SEA) Dec’93 664 5 66 42 .833 115
3 2B Roberto Alomar S 31 Free Agent (BAL) Dec’98 694 24 120 37 .955 142
4 RF Manny Ramirez R 27 Drafted 1st Rd (13) ’91 640 44 165 2 1.105 172
5 1B Jim Thome L 28 Drafted 13th Rd ’89 629 33 108 0 .966 142
6 LF Richie Sexson R 24 Drafted 24th Rd ’93 525 31 116 3 .819 98
7 DH David Justice L 33 Trade (ATL) Mar’97 530 21 88 1 .889 125
8 3B Travis Fryman R 30 Trade (ARI) Dec’97 350 10 48 2 .719 78
9 C Einar Diaz R 26 Amateur FA (PAN) Oct’90 427 3 32 11 .690 76
INF Enrique Wilson S 25 Trade (MIN) Mar’94 368 2 24 5 .662 66
OF Wil Cordero R 27 Free Agent (CHW) Feb’99 217 8 32 2 .864 118

2000
HR (7th), Runs (3rd), wOBA (1st), wRC+ (2nd-T), Offensive WAR (2nd)

One of the team’s more uneventful offseasons in years, Hart stuck with his tradition of adding a veteran starting pitcher — Chuck Finley signed with the team after spending the previous 14 seasons with the Angels — while yet another prospect with light tower power, Russell “the Muscle” Branyan, appeared ready to burst onto the scene.

Unlike other homegrown players like Belle, Ramirez, and Thome, who would become stars in Cleveland, or Giles and Sexson, who would go on to put up big numbers with other organizations, Branyan’s career trajectory was unique. Despite his talent, he was never able to secure regular plate appearances or even a regular job as a bench player. The power was ridiculous, though. At a time when balls that appeared to be absolutely crushed would die on the warning track at San Diego’s Petco Park, I saw Branyan hit one further than I’ve still ever seen hit there.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because he probably did the same thing for your favorite team, too. That’s because he ended up playing for 11 major league organizations in total, including the Mariners and Brewers twice. He also had four stints with the Indians, the last being a late-season minor league deal in 2014. Sure, he’s no Edwin Jackson, but he’s a certainly a “well-traveled” ballplayer.

A notable in-season trade worth mentioning is the one that sent Justice to the Yankees for three minor league prospects. One of those prospects, Jake Westbrook, ended up being part of a three-team trade between the Indians, Cardinals, and Padres more than nine years later. The prospect acquired by the Indians in that deal was Corey Kluber.

Cleveland Indians 2000
Name Bats Age How Acquired PA HR RBI SB OPS wRC+
1 CF Kenny Lofton L 33 Free Agent (ATL) Dec’97 640 15 73 30 .791 100
2 SS Omar Vizquel S 33 Trade (SEA) Dec’93 717 7 66 22 .752 96
3 2B Roberto Alomar S 32 Free Agent (BAL) Dec’98 697 19 89 39 .853 114
4 RF Manny Ramirez R 28 Drafted 1st Rd (13) ’91 532 38 122 1 1.154 181
5 1B Jim Thome L 29 Drafted 13th Rd ’89 684 37 106 1 .929 131
6 3B Travis Fryman R 31 Trade (ARI) Dec’97 658 22 106 1 .908 126
7 LF Richie Sexson R 25 Drafted 24th Rd ’93 356 16 44 1 .775 90
9 C Sandy Alomar Jr. R 34 Trade (SDP) Dec’89 384 7 42 2 .728 80
9 C Einar Diaz R 27 Amateur FA (PAN) Oct’90 275 4 25 4 .715 79
1B David Segui S 33 Trade (TEX) Jul’00 245 8 46 0 .882 121
OF Russell Branyan L 24 Drafted 7th Rd ’94 220 16 38 0 .871 110

2001
HR (5th), Runs (3rd), wOBA (3rd-T), wRC+ (2nd), Offensive WAR (2nd)

With Hart knowing that this might be his last hurrah with the Indians — he did, in fact, announce early in the 2001 season that it would be his last as the team’s general manager — he signed a trio of veterans to counter the loss of free agent Ramirez, who would go on to sign an eight-year, $160 million deal with the Boston Red Sox. Unsurprisingly, Hart hit on all three of his acquisitions. Ellis Burks continued to rake in his mid-30s, Juan Gonzalez was fifth in AL MVP voting, and Marty Cordova’s lone season with the Tribe was probably the best of his career.

Cleveland Indians 2001
Name Bats Age How Acquired PA HR RBI SB OPS wRC+
1 CF Kenny Lofton L 34 Free Agent (ATL) Dec’97 576 14 66 16 .720 90
2 SS Omar Vizquel S 34 Trade (SEA) Dec’93 693 2 50 13 .657 76
3 2B Roberto Alomar S 33 Free Agent (BAL) Dec’98 677 20 100 30 .956 151
4 RF Juan Gonzalez R 31 Free Agent (DET) Jan’01 595 35 140 1 .960 145
5 1B Jim Thome L 30 Drafted 13th Rd ’89 644 49 124 0 1.040 167
6 DH Ellis Burks R 36 Free Agent (SFG) Nov’00 515 28 74 5 .911 136
7 LF Marty Cordova R 31 Free Agent (TOR) Dec’00 442 20 69 0 .854 124
8 3B Travis Fryman R 32 Trade (ARI) Dec’97 370 3 38 1 .662 77
9 C Einar Diaz R 28 Amateur FA (PAN) Oct’90 478 4 56 1 .715 90
3B/OF Russell Branyan L 25 Drafted 7th Rd ’94 361 20 54 1 .802 106

2002
HR (7th), Runs (15th), wOBA (20th-T), wRC+ (16th), Offensive WAR (17th)

Just as the timing always seemed to be right with his player acquisitions, Hart stepped away from the Indians at the perfect moment. The last Indians team he assembled won another division title before losing in the ALDS to a Mariners team that won 116 games during the regular season. Many of their best players were approaching free agency and there wasn’t much help on the way from the farm system. The writing was on the wall. It was time to hand things over to someone else and move on.

As you can see below from the first post-Hart lineup, things got ugly pretty quickly. To new general manager Mark Shapiro’s credit, he had the team back above .500 by 2005 when they won 93 games, and back in the playoffs after a 96-win season in 2007. But it would be another decade before the Indians would put a team on the field that even resembled those from 1994-2001.

Cleveland Indians 2002
Name Bats Age How Acquired PA HR RBI SB OPS wRC+
1 LF Matt Lawton L 30 Trade (NYM) Dec’11 484 15 57 8 .741 102
2 SS Omar Vizquel S 35 Trade (SEA) Dec’93 663 14 72 18 .759 102
3 DH Ellis Burks R 37 Free Agent (SFG) Nov’00 570 32 91 2 .903 139
4 1B Jim Thome L 31 Drafted 13th Rd ’89 613 52 118 1 1.122 189
5 LF Karim Garcia L 26 Free Agent (NYY) Jul’02 205 16 52 0 .901 134
6 3B Travis Fryman R 33 Trade (ARI) Dec’97 439 11 55 0 .642 71
7 2B Ricky Gutierrez R 32 Free Agent (CHC) Dec’01 384 4 38 0 .671 82
8 CF Milton Bradley S 24 Trade (MON) Jul’01 358 9 38 6 .723 92
9 C Einar Diaz R 29 Amateur FA (PAN) Oct’90 351 2 16 0 .542 43
INF John McDonald R 27 Drafted 12th Rd ’96 288 1 12 3 .614 63
OF Chris Magruder S 25 Trade (TEX) Apr’02 278 6 29 2 .614 58
3B/OF Russell Branyan L 26 Drafted 7th Rd ’94 180 8 17 1 .657 73





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danmember
2 years ago

Go back and watch that 1995 World Series and note the horrifically dreadful calling of balls and strikes. Had Joe Brinkman (the umpire kneeling 5 feet behind Tony Pena) been remotely capable of keeping a legal zone, the Indians would have won that series running away. While the Indians’ arms were squeezed, the Braves were rewarded with strikes off the plate.

The Braves had some all-time pitching talent, to be sure, but the calls of strikes 6 inches off the plate made it impossible for a lineup in which Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez batted SIXTH and SEVENTH, respectively, to be successful.

I think that Tribe team deserves to be remembered as an all-time great team.

As Orel Hershiser said: “If we would have gotten a legitimate strike zone in both 1995 and 1997, we would have been world champions.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELAQlB1aEik

emh1969
2 years ago
Reply to  dan

Is it me or does that series not get talked about much as one of the all-time greats?

-Two teams that were stacked with talent, most of it of the under age-30 variety

-5 of the 6 games decided by one run, with the other one being a 3 run game that was 1-1 after 6 innings.

-Braves won game six 1-0 with Glavine and Wohlers combining for a 1 hit shutout.

Sure it didn’t go 7 games, but still…

gc
2 years ago
Reply to  emh1969

“small market” bias, Twins/Braves had to be insanely great to be remembered among the best without a NY/LA/BOS team involved.

sbf21member
2 years ago
Reply to  dan

For years I would be infuriated at the called strikes that Maddox would get on pitches nowhere near the plate. It was absolutely unfair.

Themaven
2 years ago
Reply to  dan

I’ve been watching a lot of the replay games from that era(as we all have,I’m sure) and it’s amazing how distorted the strike zone was in the era of the late eighties through the early oughts(the Steroid era I guess).The high strike didn’t exist and really good 12-6 curveballs were regularly called balls.It was even worse than I remembered.The 1995 series was egregious in that respect,even for this era.