Over the course of the next month, LWOSports will be breaking down the top five MLB players in franchise history for all 30 teams. This article will rank the top five Cleveland Indians players from least to best by who had the biggest impact for the team. You can check out the other series articles here.
Top Five Cleveland Indians Players in Franchise History
5. Omar Vizquel
Omar Vizquel played in the majors for 24 years and he was part of the Cleveland Indians for 11 seasons. Vizquel is known as one of the best fielders at the shortstop position over his career in the majors. Vizquel also has one of the longest streaks in league history with consecutive games without an error and he also is third on the hits list for shortstops. Vizquel is a three-time all-star and 11-time gold glove winner which shows his defensive ability. The Indians traded for Vizquel to pair him with Roberto Alomar making one of the best defensive duos in the middle of the infield. Vizquel went to two world series with the Indians but they came up on the short end of both of them. Vizquel was elected into the Cleveland Indians hall of fame for his remarkable 11-year career in Cleveland.
4. Kenny Lofton
Kenny Lofton had three different stints with the Cleveland Indians for a total of 10 years of his 17-year career. Lofton is a six-time all-star, four-time gold glove winner, and a five-time AL stolen base leader. Lofton was one of the great bases stealers in the majors and he could change games when we was on base. He put so much pressure on the opposing pitcher and their defense with his running ability. In his first full season which was with Cleveland, Lofton stole 66 bases which were an American League rookie record. In his career, Lofton was a .299 hitter with over 2,400 hits and stole 622 bases. Lofton was elected into the Cleveland Indians hall of fame which was an honor for him.
3. Nap Lajoie
Nap Lajoie played 21 seasons in the majors including 13 of them with Cleveland before managing Cleveland for five seasons after he retired. Lajoie was nicknamed “the Frenchman” and was one of the most popular players of his era. Lajoie played second base and was one of the top players on both sides of the field during his career. Over his career, Lajoie was a .339 hitter with over 3,200 hits and 1,600 runs batted in. Lajoie was a triple crown winner in 1901, 5 time AL batting champion, AL home run leader in 1901, and a three-time RBI leader. After he retired, Lajoie became the manager for Cleveland for a couple seasons, Nap Lajoie was elected into the Cleveland Indians hall of fame as well as the baseball hall of fame in 1937 on his second ballot.
2. Jim Thome
Jim Thome played for six different teams over this 22-year career including two stints with the Cleveland Indians for a total of 13 seasons. Thome was known for his offense and his prolific power at the plate. Thome was a huge piece to their core in the mid-’90s when the Indians made it to the world series in two out of three seasons. Thome was a five-time all-star, silver slugger award winner, and the Roberto Clemente award winner. Over his career, Thome was a .276 hitter with over 2,300 hits and 612 home runs to go along with 1,700 runs batted in. Jim had his number 25 retired by the Cleveland Indians and was elected into the Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies hall of fame. In 2018 on his first try, he was elected into the baseball hall of fame as well which is a huge accomplishment.
1. Bob Feller
Bob Feller played all 18 seasons of his major league career with the Cleveland Indians. He was nicknamed “the Heater from Van Meter”, “Bullet Bob”, and “Rapid Robert”. Feller made his major league debut in 1936 for the Indians. In the middle of his career, Feller had a four-year stint in the Navy. He would pitch in 570 games over his career while accounting for over 3,800 innings and posting a 266-162 record with a remarkable 279 completed games and 44 shutouts with a 3.25 ERA. Feller was an eight-time all-star, world series champion in 1948, triple crown winner in 1940, six-time AL wins leader, seven-time MLB strikeout leader, and would pitch three no-hitters over his career. Feller’s number 19 would be retired by the Cleveland Indians as well as him being inducted into the Cleveland Indians hall of fame. In 1962, he would also be elected into the baseball hall of fame on his first ballot which is an accomplishment on its own.
The Cleveland Indians have had a number of great players of the years but these five made huge impacts on the franchise in so many different ways. These players not only made huge impacts on the field each and every night but also off the field and the things they did for the community in Cleveland. They have been elected into the Cleveland Indians hall of fame as well as some have been elected into the baseball hall of fame which is an honor for major leaguers.
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