5 best seasons by a Tribe position player

November 30th, 2020

CLEVELAND -- With more than 100 years of history, the Indians have had a plethora of players post outstanding offensive seasons. But which ones stand out as the best?

Let’s take a look at the top five individual seasons by a position player in Tribe history:

1) , 1911
It’s hard to top a season that set the Tribe’s franchise record in hits (233) and batting average (.408). Jackson had a handful of impressive seasons for Cleveland, but none were quite like 1911. In his first full big league season, Jackson set career highs in hits, batting average, doubles (45), stolen bases (41), on-base percentage (.468, which led the Majors that season) and OPS (1.058, 193 OPS+) in 147 games. He finished fourth in the MVP Award voting and was the runner-up for the batting title that year behind Detroit's Ty Cobb, who hit .419.

2) , 1995
There’s no hiding the power numbers Belle posted during his eight-year stint in Cleveland, but no other player has ever accomplished what the slugger did in 1995. Belle became the first to launch at least 50 homers with at least 50 doubles in a single season. He led the American League in runs scored (121) and RBIs (126) and the Majors in doubles (52), homers (50) and slugging percentage (.690). Belle came up just shy of bringing home the MVP Award, placing second while earning his third of five career Silver Slugger Awards.

3) , 2002
The only other member of the Tribe to hit more homers than Belle did in 1995, Thome answered with 52 roundtrippers seven years later. The slugger led the AL in OPS+ (197), walks (122), slugging percentage (.677) and OPS (1.122), while setting the Indians’ franchise record for home runs. It seemed as though 2002 would be Thome’s final impression on Cleveland fans in the last season of his 12-year run with the Tribe, but he returned for 22 games in '11 and smacked three more homers.

4) , 1999
No player in the Indians’ organization has ever plated more runs than Ramirez did in 1999. The man with one of the smoothest right-handed swings the game has ever seen knocked in a Majors-leading 165 runs while launching 44 homers (sixth most in club history) and 34 doubles. He also led the AL in OPS+ (174), slugging percentage (.663) and OPS (1.105) that year. In 147 games, Ramirez hit .333 and placed third in the MVP Award voting.

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5) , 1916
Behind Jackson’s .408 batting average in 1911 and .395 average in ’12 on the Indians’ all-time charts sits three seasons from Speaker with at least a .385 average. In '16, Speaker's .386 average was just one of eight categories in which he led the AL. His .470 on-base percentage, .502 slugging percentage, .972 OPS, 186 OPS+, 41 doubles, 211 hits and 8.6 offensive WAR bested all other hitters. Speaker made quite the first impression on his new team that season, as he went on to put together a magical 11-year career in Cleveland, slashing .351/.442/.522 after his stellar ’16 performance.

Honorable mentions

Al Rosen, 1953: Rosen is the last member of the Tribe to bring home an MVP Award. His performance in '53, during which he led the AL in runs scored (115), homers (43), RBIs (145), slugging percentage (.613) and OPS (1.034), was enough to win him the hardware.

Travis Hafner, 2006: In just 129 games before he was sidelined with an injury, Hafner crushed 42 homers and knocked in 117 runs. He led the AL with a .659 slugging percentage and 1.097 OPS (the fifth-best OPS in franchise history).

Rocky Colavito, 1958: Colavito put together MVP-worthy seasons in ’58 and ’59 before the Indians traded him to Detroit. His bat came alive in ’58, when he hit .303 with a Major League-best .620 slugging percentage. Colavito added 41 homers with 113 RBIs and a 1.024 OPS (180 OPS+) that season.