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Belle brought fear to opponents with fierce bat

Slugger was consistent power threat over injury-shortened career
MLB.com @JALaymance

Over the course of February, which is Black History Month, MLB Network and MLB.com are looking back at some of the most prominent African-American players in MLB history. On Sunday, we look back on the career of former Cleveland Indians star Albert Belle.

Belle was one of baseball's most feared sluggers in the 1990s, when he starred as an outfielder with the Indians.

Over the course of February, which is Black History Month, MLB Network and MLB.com are looking back at some of the most prominent African-American players in MLB history. On Sunday, we look back on the career of former Cleveland Indians star Albert Belle.

Belle was one of baseball's most feared sluggers in the 1990s, when he starred as an outfielder with the Indians.

Selected in the second round of the 1987 Draft by Cleveland, Belle tormented opposing pitchers for parts of eight seasons with the Indians. He slugged 242 home runs (second only to Jim Thome in club history) and was a four-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger Award recipient with the Tribe from '89-96.

Video: A look back at the best of the 1995 Indians

Belle is perhaps best known for his historic 1995 season, when he became the first and only player in Major League history to hit 50 home runs and 50 doubles in a single season. Belle played 143 games that year and led the American League with 50 homers, 377 total bases and a .690 slugging percentage. He also finished tied for the AL lead with 52 doubles, 126 RBIs and 121 runs. With Belle putting up huge numbers offensively, the Indians reached the World Series.

Belle finished in the top three in the AL in Most Valuable Player Award voting three times with the Indians, ending as the runner-up to Mo Vaughn for the annual award in 1995. From '93-96, Belle combined to hit 172 homers and 161 doubles with 504 RBIs and a 1.040 OPS in 566 regular-season games.

The next chapter in Belle's Major League career came with the White Sox, who signed him to a five-year, $55 million contract in the winter of 1996. The deal made Belle the highest-paid player in baseball at the time.

Belle kept on producing in Chicago, earning his fifth and final AL All-Star selection in 1997 and fifth and final Silver Slugger Award in '98. In his first season with the White Sox, Belle had a career-high 27-game hitting streak. Belle also set White Sox single-season records with 49 homers, 48 doubles, 152 RBIs, 399 total bases and 99 extra-base hits in '98.

A clause in his contract allowed Belle to become a free agent following the 1998 season, and he later signed a five-year, $65 million deal with the Orioles. A degenerative hip condition ended Belle's career, and he retired at age 34 following the 2000 season. He homered in his final at-bat.

All told, Belle launched 381 home runs and posted a .933 OPS across 12 seasons. He had eight straight seasons with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs from 1992-99, and nine consecutive seasons with at least 100 RBIs from '92-00.

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JALaymance.

Cleveland Indians