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Cleveland Indians All-Time Lineup

Best at each position, in one season, in team history

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A look at the all-time starting lineup for the Cleveland Indians in the team's history. It's not a career record - it's taken from the best season any player had at that position in team history to create a lineup.

Starting pitcher: Bob Feller

Bob Feller photo
New York Times Co./Getty Images

1946: 26-15, 2.18 ERA, 371.1 IP, 277 H, 348 Ks, 1.158 WHIP)

Rest of the rotation: Gaylord Perry (1972, 24-16, 1.92 ERA, 342.2 IP, 253 H, 234 Ks, 0.978 WHIP); Luis Tiant (1968, 21-9, 1.60 ERA, 258.1 IP, 152 H, 264 Ks, 0.871 WHIP); Addie Joss (1908, 24-11, 1.16 ERA, 325 IP, 232 H, 130 Ks, 0.806 WHIP); Cliff Lee (2008, 22-3, 2.54 ERA, 223.1 IP, 214 H, 170 Ks, 1.110 WHIP)

There are three Hall of Famers in the rotation, along with a 229-game winner and a Cy Young Award winner. It was tough to pick the best, but Feller is on the short list as of the best right-handers ever, so that's a great place to start. Rapid Robert missed three seasons at his peak because of World War II, but had a monster year in his first season back in 1946. Perry and Lee won Cy Young Awards in their breakout seasons. Tiant, before his Boston days, was the Indians' ace. And Joss was a Hall of Famer who played in just eight seasons, but died of meningitis at age 31.

Catcher: Sandy Alomar

Sandy Alomar photo
Matthew Stockman/Allsport/Getty Images

1997: .324, 21 HR, 83 RBI, .900 OPS

Backup: Victor Martinez (2007, .301, 25 HR, 114 RBI, .879 OPS

Two modern era catchers with similar stats, but Alomar was a bit better defensively in his prime, so he gets the start. Alomar was the All-Star Game MVP on a pennant-winning Indians team in 1997, when he had his best season. The Indians won the AL Central in Martinez's top season in 2007.

First baseman: Jim Thome

Jim Thome photo
Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport/Getty Images

2002: .304, 52 HR, 118 RBI, 1.122 OPS

Backup: Hal Trosky (1936, .343, 42 HR, 162 RBI, 1.026 OPS)

Thome could make this lineup at two positions (1996, third base), but he was at his best in 2002 in the final season of his first go-around with the Indians. The backup is Trosky, who lost the last half of his career to migraine headaches.

Second baseman: Napoleon Lajoie

Napoleon Lajoie image
Illustrated trade card/Buyenlarge/Getty Images

1904: .376, 5 HR, 102 RBI, 29 SB, .959 OPS

Backup: Roberto Alomar (1999, .323, 24 HR, 120 RBI, 37 SB, .955 OPS)

The Indians had three Hall of Fame second basemen in their history, so we'll go with the original one in the franchise's first star player in Lajoie, who was a .338 lifetime hitter who played in the dead-ball era. His backup was a modern star who came to Cleveland at the height of his career in Alomar, a 2010 Hall of Fame inductee.

Shortstop: Lou Boudreau

Lou Boudreau photo
Photo File/Getty Images

1948: .355, 18 HR, 106 RBI, .987 OPS

Backup: Omar Vizquel (1999, .333, 5 HR, 66 RBI, 42 SB, .833 OPS)

The starter is a no-brainer in the Hall of Famer Boudreau, who had an MVP season when the Indians won the World Series in 1948. The backup is a tough call between Joe Sewell (.353 in 1923), but he made 59 errors that season. Vizquel won a Gold Glove and his team won the AL Central in his best season.

Third baseman: Al Rosen

Al Rosen photo
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

1953: .335, 43 HR, 145 RBI, 1.034 OPS

Backup: Travis Fryman (2000, .321, 22 HR, 106 RBI, .908 OPS)

With Thome at first base, the 1953 unanimous AL MVP is a great choice to start at third base. At the backup spot, we'll go with Fryman, who had an underrated career in Detroit and Cleveland.

Left fielder: Albert Belle

Albert Belle photo
Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images

1994: .357, 36 HR, 101 RBI in 106 G, 1.152 OPS)

Backup: Shoeless Joe Jackson (.408, 7 HR, 83 RBI, 41 SB, 1.058 OPS)

It's an infamous duo in left field, and a tough call between them. Belle was the best hitter in the majors for a few years in the mid-1990s, and would have probably been a Hall of Famer if not for a bad hip. Jackson also would have been a Hall of Famer, but he was implicated in the 1919 Black Sox scandal and banished from the game. Tough to bench a guy who hit .408, but Belle was that good in the strike-shortened 1994 season.

Center fielder: Tris Speaker

Tris Speaker photo
Photo File/Getty Images

1923: .380, 17 HR, 130 RBI, 1.079 OPS

Backup: Earl Averill (1936, .378, 28 HR, 126 RBI, 1.065 OPS)

Three Hall of Famers manned center field for the Indians, and so did the best leadoff hitter of the 1990s. But the old-timers were good enough to keep Larry Doby and Kenny Lofton off the team. Speaker played the second half of his career in Cleveland, and the .345 career hitter was at his best in his first year in Cleveland. Averill had 232 hits in his 1936 season, but was beaten out for the MVP by Lou Gehrig and Luke Appling.

Right fielder: Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez photo
Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport/Getty Images

2000: .351, 38 HR, 122 RBI, 1.154 OPS

Backup: Rocky Colavito (1958, .303, 41 HR, 113 RBI, 1.024 OPS)

Manny was being Manny first in Cleveland, where his incredible bat speed was first on display for some great teams in the middle and late 1990s. Somehow he only finished sixth in the MVP vote in 2000. The backup was the biggest star of the 1950s Indians in Colavito, who was traded to Detroit two years after his best season in perhaps the most unpopular move in team history (and one that seemingly cursed the team for the next generation).

Designated hitter: Travis Hafner

Travis Hafner photo
Jason Miller/Getty Images

2006: .308, 42 HR, 117 RBI, 1.097 OPS

Backup: Eddie Murray (1995, .323, 21 HR, 82 RBI, .891 OPS)

Injuries have slowed the slugging DH since, but Hafner was a really tough out in 2006 in the middle of the Indians' lineup. The backup was a Hall of Famer toward the end of his career as he came to Cleveland as the DH on the powerful mid-1990s Indians teams.

Closer: Jose Mesa

Jose Mesa photo
Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport

1995: 3-0, 1.13 ERA, 46 saves, 64 IP, 49 H, 58 Ks, 1.031 WHIP

Backup: Mike Jackson (1998, 1-1, 1.55 ERA, 64 IP, 43 H, 55 Ks, 0.875 WHIP)

Mesa's place in Indians lore is mainly an infamous one, as he blew the lead in Game 7 of the World Series in 1997. But two years earlier, he went on a roll as a closer that few have matched as the Indians went 100-44 and Mesa finished second in Cy Young voting. The backup was an underrated man who followed him as Indians closer in Jackson.

Batting order

  • Napoleon Lajoie 2B
  • Tris Speaker CF
  • Jim Thome 1B
  • Albert Belle LF
  • Manny Ramirez RF
  • Al Rosen 3B
  • Lou Boudreau SS
  • Travis Hafner DH
  • Sandy Alomar C

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