1908 Addie Joss pitches a 74-pitch perfect game at League Park on October 2, 1908. Joss' fantastic career comes to an abrupt end two and a half years later when he contracts tubercular meningitis and passes away. Joss is elected to the Hall of Fame via the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee in 1978.
1910 League Park's old, wooden, facility is replaced with concrete and steel and opens April 21, 1910, seating about 21,000. Almost 19,000 fans pour into the new park at E. 66th and Lexington and watch the Detroit Tigers defeat the Cleveland Naps 5-0. For the next 36 years, League Park hosts Cleveland baseball.
1911 In a forerunner of today's All-Star Game, stars gathered at League Park for an exhibition against the Naps to benefit the family of the late Addie Joss on July 24, 1911. The All-Stars cruise to a 5-3 victory, but the goal of the event is accomplished - $12,931.60 is raised for the Joss family.
1914 On September 27, 1914, Nap Lajoie becomes the first player to reach the exclusive 3,000 hit mark in a Cleveland uniform. Nap Lojoie is the reason that Cleveland is called the Naps, showing what honor and respect his team and city had for him.
1915 Cleveland took on the name "Indians" in 1915, reviving a nickname of its old NL club upon the arrival of this Native American in 1897. Hall of Famer John Montgomery Ward referred to Sockalexis as "a marvel".
1920 Game 5 of the 1920 World Series sees many firsts. Elmer Smith belts the first ever Grand Slam in the first inning. In the 4th, Jim "Sarge" Bagby becomes the first pitcher to ever hit a home run in the Series. And lastly, the most improbable firsts happens in the 5th when Bill Wambsganss' turns an unassisted triple-play, a feat that may never be duplicated.
1925 Indians player-manager Tris Speaker got his 3000th hit on May 17, 1925 at League Park - the second player to do so for Cleveland. Speaker was a shoe in for the Hall of Fame and was elected in 1937.
1932 The first game at the new Stadium in 1932 was one of Cleveland's great sporting events with a reported total attendance of 80,184. Initially, Municipal Stadium split time with League Park as home to the Indians, but took over full duties in the 1947 season. 1993 is its final season.
1940 Bob Feller's Opening Day no-hitter on April 16, 1940 at Comiskey Park was the first of three no-hitters he pitched for the Indians. No one has ever opened the season with a no-no.
1948 In the pivotal Game 4 of the 1948 World Series, Larry Doby's home run makes the difference in a 2-1 Tribe victory. Steve Gromek goes the distance, shutting the Braves offense down to a single run. The Indians take a 3-1 Series lead and take home the crown 2 games later.
1954 Led by the stellar pitching of Lemon, Wynn and Garcia, the 1954 Indians set American League records for wins (111) and winning percentage (.721). Feller, Mossi, Narleski and Newhouser were also notable in the dominating pitching staff. Doby, Rosen and Avila shined with the bats.
1959 Fan favorite Rocky Colavito ties the MLB record for home runs in a game with four (in consecutive at bats) at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium on June 10, 1959. He goes on to lead the league in homers with 42.
1963 Wynn's 300th Win On July 13, 1963, Early Wynn beat the White Sox at Cleveland Stadium to become the only pitcher to win his 300th game with the Tribe. Nine years later, Wynn finds a home in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1975 Frank Robinson Player-Manager Debut April 8, 1975 mark a great stride for not only baseball, but America. Frank Robinson becomes the first African-American manager in MLB history, and he enters the ranks in grand style, hitting a homer in his first at bat.
1977 Dennis Eckersley Throws a No-Hitter On May 30, 1977, Dennis Eckersley hurls a 1-0 no-hitter. Eckersley ended up now known for his great achievements as a closer with the Oakland A's, winning the Cy Young and MVP awards in 1992.
1981 Barker perfect game The shortened season sees the Indians play only 103 games, but one is among the most memorable ever. Large Lenny Barker retires 27 consecutive batters on May 15, 1981, to become the first Cleveland player to do so since Addie Joss. He beat Toronto 3-0 at Cleveland Stadium.
1994 Opener at Jacobs Field A new era in Indians History begins on April 4, 1994 when the Tribe plays its first regular season game at Jacobs Field - a 4-3 win in 11 innings vs. Seattle before 41,459 fans.
1995 Murray's 3000th Eddie Murray makes history on June 30, 1995 at Minnesota, when he bounces a single throught the right side for his 3000th hit. Eddie Murray joins Nap Lajoie and Tris Speaker as the 3rd player to enter the 3000 hit club while with Cleveland.
1995 Clinch A drought of 41 years ends on September 8, 1995 at Jacobs Field when the Tribe's 3-2 victory vs. Baltimore clinches the AL Central Division. A season of memorable comebacks along with hefty poundings sees the Indians go 100-44, winning the Division by 30 games, the largest margin ever.
Pena home run 10/3/95 In the wee hours of the morning, Tony Pena delivers Cleveland its first post-season victory since 1948 with his 13th inning HR on October 3, 1995 in game one of the ALDS. Most of the Indians faithful remains in chilly Jacobs Field to watch and celebrate.
1995 ALCS HeroKenny Lofton scores from second base on a passed ball in game six of the 1995 ALCS in Seattle. The rattled pitcher, Randy Johnson, gives up a home run to the ensuing batter, Carlos Baerga and the Indians burst into the World Series for the first time since 1954.
1997 On To The World Series Tony Fernandez lifts a laser over the right field wall in Camden Yards in the top of the 12th to give the Indians the only run of the game. In the bottom half, Jose Mesa strikes out Roberto Alomar clinching victory over Baltimore in the sixth game of the 1997 ALCS.
2000 Fielding Record For so many years the defense of the Indians has dazzled the league, and 2000 was no different. Gold Glovers R. Alomar, Vizquel, and Fryman, lead the 2000 Indians to set AL season fielding records in percentage(.988)& fewest errors(72).
2001 Comeback Tribe The Indians won their sixth American League Central Division crown in seven years in 2001. After missing the playoffs by one game in 2000, the Indians did what they were unable to do in 2000--win games within their division. The Indians finished 91-71 with a 47-29 record in the Central.
January 9, 2001: Tribe signs Juan Gonzalez After home grown slugger Manny Ramirez signed a free-agent contract with the Boston Red Sox, the Indians needed someone to fill the clean up spot and play right field. The Tribe signed two-time AL MVP Juan Gonzalez to a one-year contract with a mutual club and player option for '02. "We needed a guy to take Manny's spot, and Juan (Gonzalez) did a better than expected job, both offensively and defensively," Shapiro said.
February 28, 2001: Indians signs Omar Vizquel to contract extension The Indians inked the best fielding shortstop in baseball history to a two-year contract extension. The signing likely insures that Vizquel will finish is career as an Indian. "Omar is a very special player -- on the field and off it for the Indians,'' said General manager John Hart about the eight-time gold glove winner.
March 12, 2001: Indians signs Einar Diaz to a four-year contract After deciding not to re-sign fan favorite Sandy Alomar, Jr., the Indians decided to sign Diaz to a long-term contract. The 28-year-old turned out to be a solid force behind the plate, not to mention offensively.
March 17, 2001: Travis Fryman out 2-4 weeks with elbow injury In what turned out to be an injury that plagued him the entire year, Fryman missed the rest of Spring Training and the first two months of the season with an elbow injury. The injury hurt the Tribe defensively and offensive. Fryman had high hopes for the 2001 season as he was coming off a career year. He batted a career high .321 in 2000, drove in 106 RBI and won is first Gold Glove.
March 25, 2001: Jaret Wright and Charles Nagy start season on DL Two links to the Tribe's success in the past were placed on the disabled list to start the season. Wright and Nagy will eventually rejoin the Indians in the middle of the season, but neither could finish the season without being placed back on the DL.
April 2, 2001: Opening Day Juan Gonzalez hits two homers against the Chicago White Sox, but the Tribe still loses. Marty Cordova makes the 25-man roster coming out of Spring Training and plays a big role in the season.
April 4, 2001: Sellout streak comes to an end The sellout streak that began on June 12, 1995 ended on April 4. The 455 sellouts is a Major League record.
April 8, 2001 - Rookie C.C. Sabathia makes Major League debut 20-year-old left-handed pitcher, Sabathia makes his first career start against the Baltimore Orioles. After giving up three runs in the first inning, Sabathia settled down and allowed just one hit the rest of the way.
April 13, 2001: Sabathia picks up his first win The rookie gives up five runs in five innings, but the Tribe defeats the Tigers, 9-8. The win marks the first of 17 wins for the young southpaw.
April 21, 2001: Jim Thome homers on bobblehead doll day Struggling to start the season, Thome didn't even start the game against the Tigers. But in the 11th inning on his bobble head doll day, Thome homered off closer Todd Jones to give the Tribe a 5-4 victory.
April 28, 2001: Indians start longest winning streak of the season In a 7-3 win over the Rangers, the Tribe embarked on season-high 10-game winning streak.
May 10, 2001: Streak ends The Tribe's 10-game winning streak comes to an end with an 8-3 loss to the Royals. During the streak, the Indians swept two teams and outscored their opponents 86-33.
2004 A little past, present and future The Indians did a lot of looking back. The organization held celebrations of its 1954 AL pennant and its 10th season in Jacobs Field. But the Indians also gave fans some reason to celebrate the present. The club, which made a strong August bid for first place, showed it was one year ahead of schedule in terms of contending for a title, and it also introduced its fans to a collection of players who will be the faces of the future. Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, Jake Westbrook and Coco Crisp had breakthrough seasons as the Tribe finished third in the Central Division with an 80-82 record.
2005 Indians contend, but fall just short General manager Mark Shapiro, who after the season was named Executive of the Year by The Sporting News, promised that the Indians would contend and they did, battling for a playoff spot all year long, only to fall short in the final week. The disappointment of not reaching the postseason could not diminish what was an exciting season in Cleveland, highlighted by the impressive performances of hitters Travis Hafner (33 homers, 108 RBIs), Jhonny Peralta (.292, 24 homers), Ronnie Belliard (.284, 17 homers), Grady Sizemore (22 homers, 22 steals) and Coco Crisp (.300, 15 homers, 15 steals). Starters Cliff Lee (18-5, 3.79 ERA), C.C. Sabathia (15-10, 4.03) and Jake Westbrook (15-15) and relievers Fernando Cabrera (2-1, 1.47), Bob Howry (7-4, 2.47) and Bob Wickman (45 saves in 50 chances) combined to form a solid pitching staff that ranked among the best in the league.
2006 The Indians came into 2006 with high hopes that their rebuilding plan would reach its playoff fruition. But a troubled bullpen and shaky infield defense led to the club being out of contention by midseason. Ranking second in the Majors in runs scored with 870 and compiling the third-best starters' ERA in the AL with a 4.31 mark was not enough to overcome those glaring faults.
Though the team struggled, several players had big years. Travis Hafner hit 42 homers and drove in 117 runs, despite missing the last month with a broken hand, while Grady Sizemore led the AL in runs scored (134), extra-base hits (92) and doubles (53). Ace left-hander C.C. Sabathia ranked third in the AL in ERA with a 3.22 mark and eighth in strikeouts with 172.
2007 Five years after general manager Mark Shapiro tore up a perennial playoff contender and began the painful process of rebuilding, the Indians delivered on Shapiro's long-stated promises in 2007. Behind 19 victories from both Cy Young winner CC Sabathia and Fausto Carmona, a career year from Victor Martinez and a league-leading 45 saves from Joe Borowski, not only did the Indians contend for the American League Central Division crown, they ran away with it by eight games. And not only did they reach the postseason for the first time since 2001, they toppled the New York Yankees in the playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Indians, one last goal eluded them. A 3-1 AL Championship Series lead against the Red Sox went to waste when Sabathia and Carmona struggled, and a World Series berth could not be attained. It was a bitter end to a splendid season.
2008 In 2008, the Indians returned virtually the entire team that fell one win shy of the World Series the previous year. But the magic of 2007 was gone. In its place stood a team derailed by injuries to the likes of Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona, as well as an unreliable bullpen and an offense that slumbered for the season's first two months.
The price of all this not only came in the standings, where the Indians finished in third place with an 81-81 mark. It also came when staff ace CC Sabathia was dealt to the Brewers for prospects on July 7.
Still, 2008 did leave some lasting memories. Cliff Lee resurrected his career and captured the Cy Young Award with a 22-3 season, and Grady Sizemore became just the 10th player in American League history to join the 30-30 (30 homers, 30 stolen bases) club, and Asdrubal Cabrera turned just the 14th unassisted triple play in baseball history.
2009 The Indians, despite the offseason additions of closer Kerry Wood, starter Carl Pavano and third baseman Mark DeRosa, never got on track in 2009 and fell to 65-97, tied with the Royals for last in the AL Central. Major organizational changes were made as a result. Once it was firmly determined that the team would not contend in the AL Central, the Indians had their second sell-off in as many seasons, trading away stars Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez, as well as DeRosa, Pavano, Rafael Betancourt, Ryan Garko and Ben Francisco to bring in prospects and rebuild the club. At season's end, manager Eric Wedge and his entire coaching staff were dismissed, as the Indians prepared to open a new chapter with manager Manny Acta in 2010.
2010 With a young, developing roster, the Indians were never seriously expected to contend in 2010. In fact, with an average age of 26.06 and 10 rookies on board, the Tribe ended the season with the youngest roster in the big leagues. Injuries and trades only added to the rebuilding nature of manager Manny Acta's first season at the helm, and the Indians finished with a 69-93 record, good for fourth place in the AL Central. Grady Sizemore was limited to 33 games by a knee injury that required season-ending surgery and Asdrubal Cabrera missed two months with a fractured forearm. Sizemore, Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo, the three core position players the Indians planned to build around, were in the same lineup just 28 times. Hot-hitting rookie catcher Carlos Santana also saw his year come to a premature end thanks to knee surgery. Veterans Jake Westbrook, Jhonny Peralta, Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns were all dealt at the Trade Deadline, opening up even more opportunities for unpolished players. It was a rebuilding year in every sense, as the Indians evaluated their internal talent to determine what players can help them in 2011 and beyond.
2011 The Indians ended the 2011 season with an 80-82 record, marking an 11-win improvement over the team's showing in the previous campaign. Cleveland stormed out of the gates, running to a 30-15 record and a seven-game lead atop the American League Central through May 23. Injuries and other issues hindered the Tribe down the stretch, however, and the team ended the year in second place. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who earned an American League Silver Slugger Award, started for the AL in the All-Star Game and ended the year with a club record for home runs (25) by a shortstop. Closer Chris Perez was also an All-Star. Catcher Carlos Santana set a franchise mark for a switch-hitter with 27 homers in his first full season in the big leagues. The Indians acquired starter Ubaldo Jimenez in a blockbuster deal prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline and then landed slugger Jim Thome in an August waiver deal. Thome's return to the Tribe -- after joining baseball's 600 Home Run Club earlier in the summer -- created some late-season excitement in the latter stages of a losing season. Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin topped the rotation with 12 wins apiece and Cleveland's bullpen ranked fifth in the AL (first in the division) with a 3.71 ERA.
2012 The Indians hoped to build on a promising season in 2011, but fell short of expectations in a disappointing 2012 season. Cleveland turned in 94 losses, marking the third time in a four-year span that the club ended below .500, and finished fourth in the American League Central. The second-half slide, which included a 5-24 showing in August, cost Manny Acta (214-266 in parts of three seasons with the Indians) his job as manager on Sept. 27. Sandy Alomar Jr. served as the Tribe's interim manager for the season's final six games, but the Indians hired Terry Francona as the franchise's 42nd manager in October. There were some bright spots, including second baseman Jason Kipnis, who was one of three players in the Majors (Mike Trout and Ryan Braun were the others) to achieve at least 10 homers, 30 stolen bases, 70 RBIs and 80 runs scored in 2012. Kipnis was only the fourth Indians hitter in the past 25 years to reach those marks in a single season. Kipnis and Carlos Santana led the offense with 76 RBIs, while Santana led the club with 18 homers. That marked the fewest homers by a team leader for the Tribe since 1983.
On Oct. 2, designated hitter Travis Hafner belted his 200th home run as a member of the Indians, putting him eighth on the franchise's all-time home run list. The Indians offense ranked third in the AL with 555 walks, but 13th with 667 runs. The pitching staff had an AL-high 4.78 ERA, with the rotation going 48-76 with a 5.25 ERA. Justin Masterson (11-15) and Ubaldo Jimenez (9-17) labored through disappointing seasons at the top of the staff. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and closer Chris Perez (39 saves) were named to the American League All-Star team. Setup man Vinnie Pestano, who set a club record with 36 holds, earned the Bob Feller Man of the Year Award from the Cleveland chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Acta earned the BBWAA's Frank Gibbons-Steve Olin Good Guy Award for his understanding of the media's role and willingness to help on a daily basis. The Indians named Cody Allen their Minor League Pitcher of the Year (Bob Feller Award) and outfielder Tim Fedroff the club's Minor League Player of the Year (Lou Boudreau Award).
On Dec. 11, the Indians made a bold move, teaming with the Reds and D-backs for a three-team, nine-player trade. Cleveland received pitchers Trevor Bauer, Bryan Shaw and Matt Albers from Arizona, and outfielder Drew Stubbs from Cincinnati, in exchange for outfielder Shin-Soo Choo (Reds), infielder Jason Donald (Reds), reliever Tony Sipp (D-backs) and first baseman Lars Anderson (D-backs).
2013 In Terry Francona's first season as Cleveland's manager, the Indians experienced a 24-win improvement over their 2012 showing. That matched the franchise's best one-year turnaround in terms of wins, excluding strike-shortened seasons. Second baseman Jason Kipnis and starter Justin Masterson made the American League All-Star team for the 92-win Tribe, which won 21 games in September to claim the league's top Wild Card spot. The Indians ended the regular season with 10 straight wins, becoming only the sixth team in the Modern Era to accomplish that feat. Cleveland hosted the AL Wild Card Game, but was defeated by Tampa Bay in the Tribe's first trip to the playoffs since 2007. The Indians' rotation was led by strong comeback seasons from Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir, while the offense was led by Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley and Nick Swisher. Young players such as Corey Kluber, Yan Gomes, Danny Salazar and Cody Allen emerged as key parts of the roster in a season that included 11 walk-off wins, 16 shutouts and 51 wins at home. Cleveland's incredible comeback season helped earn Francona the American League Manager of the Year Award in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
2014 The Indians won 85 games during the 2014 season, securing consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2000-01. A year after capturing the American League's top Wild Card spot, Cleveland remained in the hunt for the playoffs until the final weekend of the regular season. Leading the charge for the Tribe was pitcher Corey Kluber, who won 18 games, struck out 269 and turned in a 2.44 ERA in a remarkable breakout season that ended with the AL Cy Young Award. Kluber joined Cliff Lee (2008), CC Sabathia (2007) and Gaylord Perry (1972) as the only Cy Young winners in team history. Led by Kluber, the Indians pitching staff also set a single-season Major League record with 1,450 strikeouts. Left fielder Michael Brantley earned a spot on the AL All-star team and finished third in voting for the league's Most Valuable Player Award after becoming the first player in team history to end a season with at least 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 40 doubles and 200 hits. Brantley and catcher Yan Gomes each picked up a Silver Slugger Award for their offensive contributions in 2014. Indians great Omar Vizquel was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame during the summer. Following the season, Cleveland acquired slugger Brandon Moss from the A's in exchange for Minor League infielder Joe Wendle in a Dec. 8 trade.
2015 The Indians entered the 2015 with lofty expectations, but a slow start hindered the club en route to an 81-80, third-place finish in the American League Central. Cleveland did not make up a Sept. 12 rainout against Detroit, allowing the Indians to end with a winning record for a third consecutive season. From 2013-15, the Indians' .532 winning percentage ranked fourth overall in the AL. Second baseman Jason Kipnis took home the AL Player of the Month Award for May (.429 average, 30 runs, 51 hits) and was named to his second career All-Star team. Shortstop Francisco Lindor joined Cleveland in June, hit .313 in 99 games, was named the AL's Rookie of the Month for September and finished second in voting for the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Rookie righty Cody Anderson won the AL Pitcher of the Month Award for September as well. Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco became the first Indians teammates to each amass 200-plus strikeouts in a season since 1968, when Sam McDowell and Luis Tiant achieved the feat. The Indians also joined the 1969 Astros and the 1990 Mets as the only teams since 1920 to have four pitchers (Kluber, Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer) with at least 170 strikeouts apiece. Kluber tied Bob Feller's 1946 team record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game with 18 against the Cardinals on May 13. Carrasco came within one strike of a no-hitter against the Rays on July 1. The Indians carried a no-hitter through at least five innings 10 times and led the Majors with 693 no-hit innings overall. The 1,407 strikeouts piled up by Cleveland's staff marked the second-most in team history and the fifth-highest mark in a single season in baseball history. On Aug. 7, the Indians changed course with their roster by trading Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn -- two marquee free-agent additions prior to the 2013 campaign -- to the Braves. That deal followed a series of roster-altering subtractions (Brandon Moss, David Murphy and Marc Rzepczynski were also traded) that paved the way for an improved showing offensively and defensively in the second half. The retooled roster helped Cleveland pull into Wild Card contention until the final week of the regular season. After the season, team president Mark Shapiro left Cleveland to assume the same role with the Blue Jays. The Indians then promoted Chris Antonetti from general manager to president of baseball operations and named Mike Chernoff the new general manager for the Tribe.
2016 The Indians enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in franchise history. Cleveland won the American League Central for the first time since 2007, captured an AL pennant for the first time since '97 and played until Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs. To reach the sixth Fall Classic in franchise history, the Indians defeated the Red Sox (3-0) and the Blue Jays (4-1). Lefty Andrew Miller was named the Most Valuable Player for the AL Championship Series victory over Toronto. During the regular season, Cleveland went 94-67, marking the ninth time in the team's 116-year history that it won at least 94 games. It also represented the fourth winning season in a row for the Indians, marking the longest run for the club since an eight-year streak from 1994-2001. Cleveland's 352-294 record in four years under manager Terry Francona represents the best record in the AL in that four-year span. The Indians' record in 2016 was powered by a 53-28 showing at home (second-most wins for the Indians in ballpark history) and a 49-26 ledger against AL Central opponents. The Indians won 22 games in June for the most in a single month for the team since June of 1965. Indians pitchers Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar, as well as shortstop Francisco Lindor, represented the team at the All-Star Game in San Diego. Kluber became the fourth Cleveland pitcher in history to pick up the win in the Midsummer Classic. Kluber went 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA on the season, finishing third in balloting for the AL Cy Young Award. For his work, Francona was named the AL Manager of the Year, which he also won in 2013 with the Indians. Outfielder Tyler Naquin (.886 OPS in 116 games) finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting, while Lindor ended ninth in MVP balloting. Third baseman Jose Ramirez and Kluber also received votes in MVP voting. From June 17-July 1, the Indians enjoyed a club-record 14-game winning streak, beating the 13-game runs in 1951 and 1942. For the 14th win, Cleveland out-lasted Toronto, 2-1, in a 19-inning game north of the border. In that win, the Indians tied a team record with 13 shutout innings from their bullpen. The 14-game streak was the longest in the Majors since 2013 and the longest in the AL since 2002. The Indians also ended the season as the only team in the Majors to not have a losing streak consisting of more than three games. Salazar (June) and Kluber (August) each earned an AL Pitcher of the Month Award, while Naquin (June and July) was twice named the AL's Rookie of the Month. On Aug. 19, Naquin provided one of the signature moments of the season with a walk-off, inside-the-park home run against Toronto. It marked one of the MLB-leading 11 walk-off wins that the Indians had during the season. First baseman Mike Napoli, who was signed to a one-year contract on Jan. 5, led the Indians with 101 RBIs and tied for the team lead in homers (34) with Carlos Santana. Lindor led the Indians in hits (182) and runs (99), and earned a Gold Glove Award and Platinum Glove Award for his work in the field. Ramirez led Cleveland in doubles (46) and Santana paced the team in walks (99). Veteran Rajai Davis led the AL with 43 stolen bases, helping the Indians lead the AL with 134 thefts as a team. Kluber led the team in wins, innings (215) and strikeouts (227), while Cody Allen ended the year with a team-leading 32 saves. Miller, who was acquired from the Yankees for four prospects before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, posted a 1.55 ERA with 46 strikeouts and two walks in 29 innings for Cleveland. Overall, Miller became the first pitcher in baseball history to have 120-plus strikeouts and fewer than 10 walks in a single season. Miller then set single-postseason relief records for innings (19 1/3), strikeouts (30) and multi-inning appearances (10). During the season, Cleveland also traded for outfielders Brandon Guyer (Aug. 1) and Coco Crisp (Aug. 31). Guyer posted a .907 OPS in 38 games for the Tribe and Crisp belted home runs in Cleveland's division-clinching win, as well as in the clinching playoff wins over the Red Sox and Blue Jays. During the season, the Indians overcame injuries to Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Carlos Carrasco, Salazar and others to reach the postseason. Cleveland took a 3-1 lead over Chicago in the World Series, but lost Game 7, 8-7, in 10 innings. Within that defeat, however, Davis provided one of the great home runs in team history when he belted a game-tying, two-run shot in the eighth inning. After the season, the Indians picked up both of Francona's team options, keeping him under control through the 2020 campaign.
2017 The Indians did not meet their goal of returning to the World Series in 2017, but Cleveland still enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in franchise history. The Indians won 102 games (second only to the 111-win Tribe of 1954 in club history) and captured the American League Central crown for the second straight year. The 102 wins were the most by a team in the history of the AL Central, dating back to 1994. Cleveland powered its way to the division title with the help of a 22-game winning streak from Aug. 24-Sept. 14, marking the longest run in AL history and the second-longest streak in recorded baseball history. The 1916 New York Giants (26 wins in a row) hold the record. Ace Corey Kluber spun a shutout for win No. 20, which tied the 2002 A's for the AL record. Win No. 22 was delivered via a walk-off hit in the 10th inning by Jay Bruce against the Royals. Kluber picked up his second career AL Cy Young Award, becoming the first multi-winner in club history and one of 19 pitchers in history to have more than one. The right-hander went 18-4 with 265 strikeouts and an MLB-low 2.25 ERA. After returning from a back injury on June 1, Kluber went 15-2 with a 1.62 ERA to lead Cleveland's talented rotation. Carlos Carrasco (18-6) and Trevor Bauer (17-9) gave the Indians three pitchers with 17 or more wins in the same year for the first time since 1956. The Indians' pitching staff as a whole led the Majors with a 3.30 ERA, among a variety of other categories, and set single-season MLB records for strikeouts (1,614), strikeouts per nine innings (10.1) and WAR (31.7, per Fangraphs). Kluber set the tone and picked up AL Pitcher of the Month awards for June, August and September. He was also named the Best Pitcher via the Esurance MLB Awards. Kluber was joined by Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Andrew Miller and Michael Brantley at the All-Star Game in Miami, giving the Tribe its most All-Stars since 2004. Ramirez was voted as the starter at third base, making him the first Indians player to win the fan vote since 2001. Indians bench coach Brad Mills managed the AL to a 2-1 victory, filling in for manager Terry Francona, who was recovering from a heart procedure at the time. Ramirez picked up an AL Silver Slugger for third base and finished third in voting for AL Most Valuable Player after hitting .318 with 29 homers, 56 doubles, 83 RBIs, 107 runs and a .957 OPS. His 56 doubles were the third-most in a season in team history, while his 91 extra-base hits were tied for the MLB lead and were the second-most all-time for a switch hitter. Lindor, who set the Indians' single-season record for home runs (33) by a middle infielder, won the AL Silver Slugger for shortstop. Before the 2017 season began, the Indians' handed the largest free-agent contract in team history to slugger Edwin Encarnacion, who signed a three-year, $60-million pact to suit up for Cleveland. In his first year with the Tribe, Encarnacion hit .258 with 38 home runs, 96 runs, 104 walks, 107 RBIs and an .881 OPS. Francona, who has guided the Indians to an AL-leading 454 wins in his five years at the helm, finished as the runner-up in voting for AL Manager of the Year. Cleveland has posted a winning record in each season under Francona, marking the longest such run for the franchise since eight straight from 1994-2001. For all the success in the regular season, though, the Indians lost in five games to the Yankees in the AL Division Series.
2018 In terms of milestones and accomplishments both for the Indians and plenty of their players, the 2018 season could be viewed as a successful campaign. Cleveland won its third consecutive American League Central title, posted its sixth straight winning season and sent six players to the All-Star Game. All the regular-season success did not translate into a deep October run, though. The Indians were swept in the AL Division Series by the Astros, marking a second first-round exit in a row after reaching the World Series in '16.
The Indians ended the season 91-71, giving manager Terry Francona an AL-leading 545 victories during his time at the helm (2013-18). The Tribe made the postseason for the fourth time in six years and won at least three division crowns in a row for only the second time in franchise history. Along the way, the club saw a star-laden lineup and rotation turn in remarkable individual seasons.
Cleveland became the first team in MLB history to have four pitchers (Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger) notch at least 200 strikeouts in the same season. Kluber went 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA and finished third in voting for the AL Cy Young Award. He also became the first Indians pitcher to reach 20 wins since Cliff Lee in 2008 and the first Cleveland righty to achieve the feat since Gaylord Perry in 1974. Carrasco (17-10, 3.38 ERA, 231 strikeouts), Bauer (12-6, 2.21 ERA, 221 strikeouts) and Clevinger (13-8, 3.02 ERA, 207 strikeouts) also had standout campaigns. Rookie Shane Bieber (11-5, 4.55 ERA, 118 strikeouts vs. 23 walks) also turned into a reliable part of the starting staff.
Jose Ramirez compiled another outstanding campaign, finishing third in voting for the AL MVP Award. The third baseman joined Kluber, Bauer, Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes at the All-Star Game and was the only one in that group to be part of the starting lineup. Ramirez hit .270 with 39 homers, 38 doubles, 34 steals, 105 RBIs, 106 walks and 110 runs scored. He joined Joe Carter (1987) and Grady Sizemore (2008) as the only players in Tribe history to have a 30/30 season. Ramirez joined Barry Bonds, Jeff Bagwell and Bobby Abreu as the only players in MLB history to have a season with at least 30 homers, 30 steals, 100 RBIs, 100 walks and 100 runs. Ramirez picked up a Silver Slugger Award for his work.
Lindor set a single-season club record for homers by a shortstop with 38 and ended tied for the MLB lead in runs (129). Ramirez and Lindor were the first MLB teammates to each collect at least 80 extra-base hits in two consecutive seasons since Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig achieved the feat with the Yankees across the 1936-37 tours. Lindor also won a Silver Slugger Award and was sixth in voting for the AL MVP.
Prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Indians acquired All-Star closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber from the Padres in exchange for catcher Francisco Mejia. Hand posted a 2.28 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings to help shore up a bullpen that struggled throughout the season. Cleveland also swung a trade with the Blue Jays for former MVP Josh Donaldson in August and he posted a .920 OPS in 16 games for the Tribe.
By the end of the season, Cody Allen established Cleveland's new career saves record with 149. When the offseason arrived, Allen, Brantley, Donaldson, Lonnie Chisenhall, Andrew Miller and long-time Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin were among the players to reach free agency.
2019 It was a season of overcoming obstacles for the Indians, falling just short of their playoff hopes for the first time since 2015. The Tribe got off to a historically slow offensive start, hitting .224 as a team through May 22, which was the lowest average at that point in the season since Cleveland hit .215 through 48 games in 1910. But the entire perspective of the club was about to turn around. On June 4, starter Carlos Carrasco called his teammates into their home clubhouse at Progressive Field before a game against the first-place Twins. Carrasco had to break the news that he had been diagnosed with leukemia, which explained why he was having inconsistent outings and losing velocity after just a few innings on the mound. The Indians were 11 1/2 games out of the American League Central after taking home the division title for the previous three seasons. But in that moment, each player said that their perspectives changed and they realized that they should just be having fun on the field when their teammate is dealing with something much more serious. From that point through the end of August, the Indians posted an American-League best 50-27 record. At the end of that stretch, Carrasco had come back from his two-month hiatus in which he addressed his health and began a rehab assignment as a reliever to assure that he had enough time to build himself back up to reach the big league mound again in 2019.
On Sept. 1, Carrasco made his emotional comeback in his first appearance since May at Tropicana Field against the Rays. His team had clawed its way back to erase an 11 ½ game deficit in the division in just 70 days on a go-ahead grand slam by Carlos Santana in the top of the 10th against the Twins at Target Field on Aug. 11. The bullpen had posted the lowest ERA in the Majors through the end of August (3.51) and José Ramírez rediscovered his swing, hitting .313 with a 1.003 OPS from June 14 until he broke his hamate bone on Aug. 24. But in a season where the Tribe was forced to overcome Carrasco’s battle with cancer, Mike Clevinger’s two-month stint in the injured list with an upper back strain, Corey Kluber’s fractured forearm that caused him to miss the last five months of the season, trading away Trevor Bauer and Francisco Lindor’s ankle sprain that prompted a 20-game late start to the year, the team ran out of gas. The Indians relied on two Double-A starters, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale, to help carry the dominant rotation over the hurdles, but the month of September slipped away from them, ending the season with five straight losses. They entered that final week of the year just one-half of a game out of the AL Wild Card race, but fell to three games out of the second slot and eight games behind the Twins in the AL Central before the season’s end.
2020 It’ll forever be remembered as the Year of Shane Bieber. The 25-year-old absolutely dominated the American League under unprecedented circumstances. After the Tribe traded Corey Kluber over the offseason and Trevor Bauer at the previous Trade Deadline, Bieber was destined to become the team’s ace. He looked stellar in Spring Training, anxiously waiting for his first Opening Day start, but the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans. Despite the sport shutting down for three and a half months due to health and safety precautions, Bieber stayed as sharp as ever and took the shortened, 60-game season by storm at the end of July.
Bieber became the first Indians player to win the MLB Pitching Triple Crown, leading all starting pitchers (not just in the American League) in wins (eight), strikeouts (122) and ERA (1.63). The addition of his cutter made him nearly untouchable, as he racked up a 14.2 strikeouts per nine innings ratio. And in a year with very little offensive production from the Tribe, Bieber’s success became even more crucial to a team looking to get back into the playoff hunt after missing the postseason in 2019. Just when it seemed as though Bieber couldn’t become any more valuable to his team, the Indians traded Mike Clevinger at the Trade Deadline, putting even more pressure on the young righty. The Clevinger trade came just weeks after the hurler was caught breaking team protocols on the road with teammate Zach Plesac. Both were optioned as a punishment for their actions and Plesac later rejoined the rotation to be a solid No. 2 starter behind Bieber.
When the club did get some run support, it was often off the bat of José Ramírez, who almost single-handedly pulled the Indians out of an eight-game losing streak in the middle of September. His bat was the only consistent producer in Cleveland’s lineup for the entire season and got even hotter in the final few weeks of the year, as he hit .366 with a 1.294 OPS in September. Ramírez became a loyal slugger for acting manager Sandy Alomar Jr. to turn to while the team hit a skid down the stretch. Alomar began filling in for Terry Francona in August, after Francona ran into some issues with blood clots and was hospitalized for parts of the month. He never returned during the season, though his health dramatically improved just before the playoffs.
But Ramírez and Bieber weren’t enough to push the Tribe beyond the first round of the playoffs. In the extended-postseason format, the Indians were swept in two games by the Yankees in the three-game Wild Card Series. Bieber had a rare off night in Game 1, giving up seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings before pitching uncharacteristically lost them Game 2, as well. After a difficult ending to the year, the team had something to celebrate a month later, as Shane Bieber unanimously took home the AL Cy Young Award and Ramírez placed second for the AL MVP Award.
The 2021 season was full of hurdles for Cleveland, as the roster failed to stay healthy, manager Terry Francona was forced to take another medical leave of absence for the second straight season and front-office personnel spent countless hours behind the scenes working to decide on a new name for the franchise.
2021 It was expected to be a transitional season for the Indians -- one that wasn’t quite to the level of a rebuilding year, but one that wasn’t projected to be tremendously successful. But everything got much harder when Franmil Reyes (abdominal strain), Josh Naylor (broken foot) and the core of the starting rotation in Shane Bieber (right shoulder sprain), Zach Plesac (fractured thumb) and Aaron Civale (sprained middle finger) all spent extensive time on the injured list.
Although the team still sat 10 games above .500 in June, its performance began to wane, resulting in a slow second half that led to an 80-82 record -- the first losing season in Francona’s nine-year tenure in Cleveland. However, Francona wasn’t at the helm for the majority of the rough skid. Just after the All-Star break, he announced he had to step away from the game to immediately undergo surgeries on his hip and foot (staph infection) that would sideline him for the next few months. Newly-appointed bench coach DeMarlo Hale was quickly thrown into the interim manager position after first base and catching coach Sandy Alomar Jr. performed those duties for Francona in 2020.
While it wasn’t the best season for Cleveland in recent memory, the team was able to spend most of the final weeks of the year evaluating its young talent. And from that, the club learned of many reasons to be optimistic for the future. Once again, José Ramírez put together an offensive year that placed him sixth in the American League MVP vote (.266/.355/.538, 36 homers, 103 RBIs). Rookie Emmanuel Clase proved to be one of the best closers in the game, owning a 1.29 ERA in 71 appearances with 24 saves. And Cal Quantrill and Triston McKenzie provided reassurance that the future of the rotation is still in great hands, boasting two of the most dominant second-half performances in the Majors, which gave the club even more hope that it’ll be back in contention in 2022.
2022 This was supposed to be a rebuilding year. In the first season under their new moniker “Guardians,” the team picked up just backup catcher Luke Maile and reliever Enyel De Los Santos heading into Spring Training after a limited offseason due to the lockout made it difficult to execute any plans. So, the Guardians decided to turn to its farm system and hoped that the experience some of its prospects would get would be beneficial.
Little did anyone know what kind of run was in store.
The Guardians were projected by some to be at the bottom of the AL Central heading into the 2022 season. Instead, the emergence of Steven Kwan, who broke camp with Cleveland and was penciled in the Opening Day lineup, helped assure the Guardians would be in contention. The AL Gold Glove winner and third place finisher for the Rookie of the Year Award couldn’t have had a better introduction to the Majors. Never seeming overmatched, Kwan began his career by seeing 116 pitches before swinging and missing for the first time. From there, he took off to hit .298 with a .772 OPS in 147 games.
Major League Baseball’s youngest roster had its fair share of obstacles. There was concern at the start of the season when Shane Bieber returned from his ‘21 arm troubles and his velocity was down two ticks from the year prior. Yet the Cleveland ace figured out how to be just as effective without the same pop, owning a 2.88 ERA in 31 starts. The team’s big slugger in Franmil Reyes failed to produce and was designated for assignment in August, but another rookie, Oscar Gonzalez, stepped up to help fill that void with Josh Naylor. Starters Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac struggled to stay healthy, but a plethora of Minor League arms seamlessly rotated into the mix as part of the 17 players to debut this season to help keep the Guardians in the win column.
What was supposed to be a rebuilding year turned into an American League Central division title thanks to a 92-win season. The White Sox, Twins and Guardians were expected to be in a foot race for the division crown until the end of the regular season, but Cleveland pulled away from the two clubs by going a combined 10-2 against them in September. The Guardians swept the Rays in the Wild Card Series, which included a 15-inning marathon that was ended by a walk-off solo shot from Gonzalez. Although the Guardians forced the Yankees to Game 5 in the ALDS, the team had to end its “we’ll prove you wrong” tour a bit earlier than desired.
On top of the incredibly successful season the Guardians enjoyed and the fact that the club learned its foundation for the future was set, the biggest win for the organization was seeing manager Terry Francona stay in the dugout for the entire year. The past two seasons required the skipper to take leaves of absences due to health problems, leaving his future in the game questionable. But the youth of his club energized him and proving that he could get back for a full year reminded everyone that he’s ready to be at the helm for the foreseeable future.
2023 The expectations were high. The Guardians were coming off of an unexpectedly exciting season in 2022, when the rookies played like veterans and a never-say-die attitude rejuvenated manager Terry Francona to come back for more in ’23. What we didn’t know was that ’23 was all Francona had left in his managerial career.
For just the second time in Francona’s tenure in Cleveland, the Guardians finished with a losing record (76-86) after a disappointing summer filled with injuries and a lackluster offense. The year started on a bad note, when starter Triston McKenzie, who showed just how valuable he can be in ’22, injured his shoulder in his last tuneup in Spring Training. He finally made his first start on June 4, but after his second outing, he felt elbow discomfort and was shut down until the end of September.
The rotation struggled more than it had in the past. Zach Plesac couldn’t gain momentum and was optioned to Triple-A Columbus by the first week of May. At the end of April, Aaron Civale suffered an oblique strain and was out until June 2. Cal Quantrill started battling right shoulder inflammation at the beginning of July and Cleveland started the second half of the season with bad news, learning that Shane Bieber would be shut down with elbow inflammation.
But the slew of injuries the rotation was plagued with opened the door for the most exciting part of Cleveland’s season to thrive. Once again, the Cleveland Pitching Factory churned out more exceptional talent, as lefty Logan Allen and righties Tanner Bibee and Gavin Williams made their debuts and proved to be reliable pieces of the future starting staff. When all the veterans were landing on the injured list, it was 24-year-old Bibee who rose to the occasion, posting a 2.98 ERA with 141 strikeouts in 142 innings over 25 starts to earn him a second place finish in the AL Rookie of the Year vote.
Aside from Josh Naylor and José Ramírez – both of whom put up seasons that earned them AL MVP consideration – the offense was underwhelming, finishing in last place in the Majors in homers (124) and second to last in slugging percentage (.381). At the end of July, the team had a losing record, leading the Guardians front office to believe that it was time to start focusing on the next year. That prompted trading shortstop Amed Rosario at the Trade Deadline in exchange for Noah Syndergaard to free up opportunities for younger players in the middle infield. A few days later, Aaron Civale, who had a hot July coming off of the injured list, was traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for first baseman Kyle Manzardo, who could be a boost to this offense in 2024.
But the Guardians kept fighting in the division. In August, the team showed it could stay within striking distance of the first-place Twins, prompted the Guardians to claim LHP Lucas Giolito, RHP Reynaldo López and LHP Matt Moore from the Angels at the end of the month. However, September wasn’t as kind to Cleveland and the Guardians played the final week of the regular season mathematically eliminated from the postseason.
That didn’t mean the team just crawled to the finish line. It became public that Francona was planning to step down from his managerial position at the end of the season to address the handful of health ailments he’d been dealing with over the past few years. One of the most special moments of the season was Francona’s last game at Progressive Field, as his team forced him to stand on the field after a 4-3 victory over the Reds to receive a long standing ovation from his players, coaches and fans to conclude an incredible 11-year run with Cleveland.