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The All-time Cleveland Indians Second Baseman

  Shoeless Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb and Nap Lajoie  
The All-Time Indians Second Basemen is an interesting window into all the eras of baseball at the North Coast. The top five players on this list encapsulate all of the great eras, and while their tenure and levels of greatness vary in the annals of Major League baseball history, their phenomenal play with the Indians make them all honored players on the North Coast.

What's most intriguing with the position is that past the top player, the rest are a mix of fantastic play with longevity issues, or real longevity, with fantastic play issues. That's what makes our number one player so darned good. Not only does he have the numbers and the length of time, but he set the standard for so many things in both Cleveland, and the big leagues, that transcended the game at the time.

The past rankings:

  1. The All-Time Cleveland Indians Catchers
  2. The All-Time Cleveland Indians First Baseman

Let's take a look at the second basemen in the running, and there are many, many good ones on this list.

Nap Lajoie, 2B (1902-1914)

There are many "experts" that say Napoleon Lajoie was the first true baseball superstar, and that statement really wouldn't be hyperbole. There are some "experts" that even say Lajoie is still the greatest second baseman of all-time, and that wouldn't be hyperbole either. He was really, really good at the game of baseball. There's always going to be conjecture regarding lists, which is what will always make baseball so special.

Lajoie was the starting second sacker for the Philadelphia Phillies as the league entered the new century back in 1990. The Phillies owner at the timeguaranteed Lajoie that he would be the highest player on the team. When he found out that teammate Ed Delahanty was making $400 more than he was, he made the decision to leave the National League Phillies for the newly founded American League and the crosstown Philadelphia Athletics. His decision to join Connie Mack's fledgling franchise legitimized a league looking for star power.

They didn't get any bigger than Lajoie, and he didn't disappoint.

He dominated the weaker league, winning the Triple Crown in 1901, hitting .426, which also happens to be the highest average posted in the Twentieth Century. Lajoie may have never become a part of the Cleveland baseball culture, had the Phillies just left things alone. As it stood, they were pissed that their star became the A's star, and Phillies' owner John Rogers took to the courts, garnering an injunction that prevented Lajoie from competing for any team in the state, other than the Phillies. His thinking was that Nap may decide to return to the Phillies.

He was wrong.

Instead, Nap was granted free agency from the Athletics, in order to keep him in the A.L., and he signed with the Cleveland Bronchos. Imagine the good fortune Cleveland had, and the domino effect of just $400 that led him on his journey from the N.L. to the A.L. to Cleveland. In true Cleveland fashion, however, Lajoie couldn't play games in Philadelphia because of the injunction, so he just skipped all the games played there. In true Cleveland fashion, it likely gave the A's the pennant. The A's were a fabulous team, but their home 56-17 record was far superior to their road 27-36 record. They were 8-2 against Cleveland at home that year, and 4-6 against in Cleveland.

Lajoie was such a tour-de-force for the Cleveland franchise at the time, that they were routinely called the Naps, and for good reason. In 1903, he led the league in hitting with a .344 average, then upped the ante in 1904, hitting .376, with 208 hits, 49 doubles and 102 RBI. The team still struggled, and Cleveland ownership decided to turn to Lajoie to right the ship. He was asked to manage the team, which he gladly accepted.

It was likely a mistake for the greatest player in the game, and his numbers suffered. To top it off, he wasn't considered a great manager at the time. His average fell under .300 in 1907 and 1908, and midway through the 1909 season, Lajoie resigned as manager. He hit over .300 every season after that for the 'Naps,' until his final season in Cleveland, in 1914, when he was 39-years old.

Arguably, his best season in Cleveland happened in his first full year after relinquishing his managerial duties, in 1910. He led the league in games, at bats, hits, doubles (51) and average (.384). From 1910 through 1912, Nap never hit less than .365, and finished in first or second in hitting all three seasons. Lajoie technically didn't win the 1910 batting average race in one of the best stories in baseball history.

It's one of those stories that make the game so great.

On the last day of the 1910 season, Lajoie and Ty Cobb were in a battle for the batting crown, which was a massive deal back then. The winner received a brand new car, which in 1910, had to be akin to acquiring a rocket ship. The car was a Chalmers, which was the creme-de-la-creme of cars in 1910, so I hear.

The Naps were facing off against the St. Louis Browns in a doubleheader, and Lajoie was trailing Cobb by several points heading into the first game. Cobb decided to take off the last two games of the year, ensuring him of the title, which meant Lajoie had to essentially "hit-out" to pass him.

That's almost what he did. Noticing that the Browns third baseman Red Corriden was playing deep at third, Lajoie began a bunting spree. During the two games, Lajoie bunted seven times down the third base-line for successful hits. When an eighth bunt was called an error, Lajoie laced a triple, crushed to deep center, knowing that he likely couldn't pass Cobb. Jack O'Connor, the Browns' manager, who hated Cobb, and ordered his infielders to play deep against Lajoie so they wouldn't get killed by a Nap line-drive. In reality, O'Connor hated Cobb, and wanted Lajoie to win the title.

Then, there were mixed signals regarding the error, and papers across the country were declaring Lajoie the winner of the crown. Cobb was hated, and most people were rooting for the Clevelander to win. Most of the Tigers' roster sent congratulatory telegrams to Nap, because they hated Cobb, who played FOR THE TIGERS!

Cobb was declared the winner by A.L. president Ban Johnson, by .000860 of a point, but Chalmers decided to give both players a car, which Nap detested. His wife forced him to accept the car. In the early 1980s, it was found that Cobb was given credit for two hits in a game that was rained out and not counted, dropping his average to .383, one point behind Lajoie's .384, yet Bowie Kuhn refused to take away Cobb's batting crown.

Boo on you Bowie Kuhn...Boo on you.

The great Lajoie played 13 full seasons with the 'Naps,' hitting .339, with 33 homers, 919 RBI, 865 runs and 240 stolen bases. He was inducted into MLB's Hall of Fame's second class, in 1937, with you guessed it...Ty Cobb.

Bill Wambsganss, 2B (1914-1923)

Wambsganns wasn't a great player in the history of baseball, or of the Indians, but he was the guy that took over for Lajoie in 1915, and was the starting second baseman for the Indians during their 1920 World Series victory. That gets him in the top ten of this list...barely.

His 1920 season was his most memorable. He went 3-for-6 in the pennant-clinching ballgame, but was one of only two regular starters to hit under .300 for the Indians during the regular season. He was dear friends with shortstop Ray Chapman, who was infamously killed when he was hit by a pitch by the Yankees' Carl Mays. More on that when I rank the shortstops. Losing his double-play partner clearly affected him.

He still had one of the most memorable plays in the history of the World Series, in a series full of big moments. Game Five of that 1920 World Series was already noteworthy for multiple 'big moments' prior to Wambsganss time in the spotlight. The 1920 World Series marked the first World Series grand slam, which was followed by the first every home run hit by a pitcher in s series game. Wambsganss arguably topped them both. With two-on and nobody out in the fifth, "Wamby," caught a line-drive on a hit-and-run, stepped on second for the second out, then tagged the runner who had bolted from first, for the only unassisted triple play in World Series history. As a matter of fact, it's the ONLY triple play in World Series history.

In his ten seasons with the Tribe, Wambsganss hit .258, with a career .650 OPS. He hit six homers, driving in 429 runs, while scoring 556 himself. No, the numbers aren't special, but the longevity, and more importantly, the triple play, put him on the list.

Johnny Hodapp, 2B (1925-1932)

Hodapp was a highly sought after player as a youngster, coming to the Indians as a 19-year-old infielder in 1925. He started his careeroff as a third baseman, and went 2-for-5 in his first ballgame with the Tribe. Things were looking up, but a broken ankle curtailed his 1926 season, and kept him from beccomin a regular for the Indians until the 1928 season.

He was used primarily as a utility player in 1927, but still hit .304. His fielding at third kept him from becoming a regular. In 1928, Hodapp played in more than 100 games for the first time, hitting .323, while driving in 73 runs. He was still a liability on the field though, which was exemplified by a four-error game on April 30th. Injuries cost him six weeks that season. His offense was his calling card, and he spotlighted this with a two-homer game, and two, two hit innings.

It was thought that Hodapp would miss the 1929 season after he twisted his knee in spring training that year, and the plan was to try him out at first base, to see if he could play at a position that didn't require as much movement as third. Instead, he moved to second base, and he continued to rip the baseball, hitting .327, with 51 RBI in 90 games.

In 1930, his best season, he didn't miss a game. The year was highlighted by a 22-game hit streak from May through June 19th. He ended up hitting .354 that season, good for sixth in the league, in a year that was loaded with offense (Al Simmons hit .381, and Lou Gehrig hit .379, with 174 RBI), and led the league in games, hits (225) and doubles (51). He hit nine homers, and drove in 121, which proved to be the most he ever hit in a single season over the length of his career...by more than double.

Hodapp came back to earth in 1931, hitting .295, with two homers and 56 RBI, and was traded to Chicago after only seven games in the 1932 season.

Hodapp was an injury-prone, relatively malcontent as a player, who anchored his career with good utility offense, pretty bad defense, and one monster season in 1930. He hit .318 over his career with the Tribe, with a .787 OPS in eight seasons. He hit 22 homers, and drove in 355, while scoring 302 runs. Those aren't bad numbers for a guy that missed a bunch of games. In the end, he only played two seasons of 100 games or more at second base, which hurt his overall numbers.

Odell Hale, 2B (1931, 1933-1940)

Hale split his career with the Indians playing two positions, third and second place, but he did play two seasons at second with 100+ games, and four other seasons with 70+ games each at the position.

Hale got his first taste of the big leagues in 1931, playing in only 25 games, but hitting a respectable .283. After returning to the minors for the 1932 season, he returned in 1933, hitting .276, with ten dingers and 64 RBI in only 98 games, mostly at second base.

In 1934, Hale became one of the better hitting second baseman in the league, hitting .302, with 13 homers, 101 RBI and 82 runs scored. He was even better in 1935 and 1936, but played most of his games at third base during those two seasons. In 1935, he hit 16 homers, with 101 RBI, and then upped his average to .316 in 1936, with 14homers and 87 RBI, scoring a career high 126 runs.

In 1937, he began splitting his time between third and second, but also saw a significant drop in his production. The Indians figured it could have had something to do with his position shifting, so they moved him to second base in both '38 and '39. His offense did pick up, but never to the levels of his '34-'36 seasons.

After years of speculation about a potential trade, he was traded in a package deal to the Boston Red Sox for Jim Bagby, Gene Desautels and Gee Walker.

Overall for the Tribe, Hale hit .293, with an impressive .800 OPS. He hit 72 homers, while driving in 563 runs. He scored 533 runs in his nine seasons with the Indians.

Joe Gordon, 2B (1947-1950)

Joe Gordon was a former MVP, and was considered one of the classiest and most respected players in the league when he was traded to the Indians after the 1946 season for Allie Reynolds. He won the MVP award in 1942 for the New York Yankees, after he hit .322, with 18 homers and 103 RBI. It was the only time he hit over .300, but it was arguably his best offensive season. With the Indians, Gordon belted 100 homers in his four seasons.

Gordon served during World War II during the 1944 and 1945 seasons, but returned to the Yankees in 1946. Gordon struggled with injuries that season, and was dealt to the Cleveland Indians for the 1947 season. While the rumors were that Gordon would be traded for player/manager Lou Boudreau, that proved to be false in the end, which was a boon for the Indians' owner, Bill Veeck, and his quest to win a World Series in Cleveland. Boudreau had asked Veeck to acquire Gordon, when he heard that he was available.

Gordon and Boudreau were the best double play duo in baseball during their time together. Gordon hit .279 in 1947, with an impressive 29 homers and 93 RBI. In 1948, the Indians' last World Series Championship year, the then-33-year old Gordon belted 32 homers, driving in 124 RBI, while hitting .280. His glove was special too, perhaps the best at the position, in all of baseball.

Gordon's offense began to slip in 1949, hitting .251, with 20 homers. He wrapped up his Indians' career in 1950, struggling with a .236 average, but still managing 19 homers, with 57 RBI. Overall, Gordon posted a .262/.354/.463 slash, with an impressive .817 OPS. He hit 100 homers, while driving in 358 runs, and scoring 318 in 566 games over four Indians' seasons.

During the end of his Indians' tenure, a youngster by the name of Bobby Avila was knocking on the Major League door. Gordon, in a classy move, spent an abundance of his time with the young Avila. The youngster credited Gordon throughout his career for many of his achievements as a big leaguer.

Gordon was also credited for being the player that most welcomed Larry Doby. Gordon, being a former Yankee, was an extremely influential player in the dugout, and Doby often credited Gordon for his transition to the bigs. Doby was a second baseman by trade, but that didn't stop Gordon from showing him the ropes.

Gordon really had it all: respect, offense and defense, and it landed him in the Hall of Fame in 2009. It was a reward that was long overdue.

Bobby Avila, 2B (1949-1958)

Bobby Avila was the first player ever to be signed out of the Mexican League by a Major League baseball team, and nearly altered one of the biggest events in both baseball, and American History. Leo Durocher and Branch Rickey had noticed Avila in 1946, and offered him a $10,000 contract to join the Dodgers' organization. Before Avila could sign the deal, Durocher was suspended for gambling, and Rickey moved on and signed another second baseman...Jackie Robinson.

Things worked out pretty good for the Dodgers, and the missed opportunity in Brooklyn turned into a bonus opportunity for Cleveland. Avila signed with the Tribe in 1948, and made his debut with the club as their utility payer in 1949. As mentioned previously, Gordon immediately took the youngster under his wing, grooming him to take over his position when the time was right.

While he struggled in limited time in 1949, he began to flourish in 1950, hitting .299, with 29 walkks and only 17 strikeouts. With the 35-year old Gordon struggling that same season, the writing was on the wall. Gordon retired, and Avila took over his spot, and with immediate impact.

In his first full season, he hit .304, with ten homers and 58 RBI, finishing 10th in the MVP voting. He continued his solid play in 1952, hitting .300, while leading the league with 11 triples. It also marked the first of three All-Star turns for the growing star.

His 1953 season seemed to plateau. He hit a respectable .286, while walking 58 times versus only 27 K's, but this turned out to be the lull before the proverbial storm. His 1954 turned out to be his best, and helped carry the Cleveland Indians to the World Series.

Avila won the batting crown during that 1954 season with a personal best .341, and also hit a career high 15 homers, with a career high 67 RBI as well. Avila went on to finish third in MVP voting that year (Mays won that year, but four Indians finished in the top six, with Larry Doby 2nd, Bob Lemon 5th, and Early Wynn 6th). His hits were impactful. An amazing 13 of his 15 homers either tied or won the game, and a Grand Slam on September 17th guaranteed at least a tie for the pennant for the Indians. His OBP was an insane .402, which was just another of several career highs.

The 1954 season turned out to be the pinnacle of his career, and he never matched those numbers again. He made the All-Star game again in 1955, but his numbers slowly began to deteriorate. He finished up his time with the Indians in 1958, before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles. He played one more season, bouncing from Baltimore to Boston before finishing his career off in Milwaukee in that 1959 season.

Over his ten-year career with the Indians, Avila had a .284/.362/.392 slash, with 74 homers, 442 RBI and 688 runs scored.

Duane Kuiper (1974-1981)

Kuiper was part of the Cleveland Indians that I grew up loving. That struggling band of misfits didn't do many things well, but watching Kuiper play second base was one of my fondest memories. While he is more known for his announcing career these days, he was a pretty solid defensive player for the Indians during his tenure here.

His debut was a bit of a breakout in 1974. He only played in ten games, but went 11-for-22, with two doubles and four RBI. His 1.133 OPS gave plenty for Tribe fans to ponder over the offseason. In 1975, he ultimately split time with an injury-prone Jack Brohamer at second, and continued his solid play, hitting .292 in 90 games, earning the right to start. Cleveland dealt Brohamer to the White Sox to allow Kuiper to start full-time.

What was Kuiper's biggest claim to fame? It's most likely the number one.

That was how many home runs Kuiper hit in his career, and he didn't hit his first one until the 1977 season, in his 1,382nd at bat. He played 12 seasons in the bigs, and never hit another. So, how does Kuiper make this list?

His defense, and the simple fact that he often had time for the seven-year old version of myself, who spent far too much time hanging out by the Indians dugout back then.

Kuiper led the league in fielding in 1976 and 1979, and his manager, Frank Robinson, called him the best second baseman in the league, and he was the team captain during his tenure in Cleveland. Offensively, he did have a game in which he hit two bases-loaded triples, and he did hit .274 over his Indians career, but leadership and defense was his calling card, and why he makes the list of top Indians' second baseman.

Tony Bernazard (1984-1987)

Bernazard may be a forgotten name on this list, but he was part of the shining light season in the 80s that ultimately put them on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He also had some solid numbers with the Indians during his four-years with the Tribe.

He was traded to the Indians from the Seattle Mariners for Jack Perconte and Gorman Thomas. Bernazard had been a journeyman up to that point, and I remember thinking, "we gave up Gorman Thomas for that?" Mind you, Thomas had made a name for himself with the Milwaukee Brewers, with four seasons hitting 30 or more homers, and one in which he hit 45. With the Indians, he was anything but spectacular, but still managed to hit 17 homers in his 106 games.

Bernazard was just a guy, but he was filling a pretty major hole with the club after Manny Trillo had been dealt in August the prior season.

He sucked in his first season on the North Coash, hitting a paltry .221, with a .577 OPS in 140 games. It was far and away his worst season with the Indians, and his numbers improved dramatically in the years to come.

In 1985, Bernazard rebounded from his worst season as a major leaguer, to his best at the time. He hit .274, with 11 homers, 59 RBI, 73 runs and 17 stolen bases. He walked 69 times, with only 72 Ks. Things were looking up, and only got better in 1986. He hit several career marks, including a .301 average, 16 homers, 73 RBI, 88 runs and an .818 OPS. That team went a surprising 84-78, and things were looking up for the Tribe.

Enter the SI Curse.

Sports Illustrated put the Indians on the cover, and while Bernazard was there (Joe Carter and Cody Snyder were), he was still clearly affected...if you believe in such things.

His power numbers went up, but he struck out more, and his average dropped sixty points. By July of that year, they were already out of the running for anything, and the dealt Bernazard, on my birthday, to the Oakland, for Darrel Akerfelds.

Overall for the Indians, Bernazard had a .264/.334/.392 slash, with 41 homers and 200 RBI, while scoring 244 runs.

Carlos Baerga (1990-1996, 1999)

It's funny how little people talk about Carlos Baerga's early years, instead, focusing on his later, troubled years. The fact of the matter is this: Baerga was one of the first true stars on this team in the 1990's, and was often compared to a rather substantial Hall of Famer, and often. As a matter of fact, if you talked to ANY baseball fan after the 1993 season, most would have said, "a few more years like this, and he's a lock for the hall."

He truly was that good.

In 1993, Baerga became the first second baseman since Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby to have back-to-back 200-plus hit, 20-plus homers, 100-plus RBI and 300-plus average seasons. When you take into account that there have only been 28 200 hit seasons in Indians' history that really puts in perspective the grandiose numbers of Baerga. when you consider that only two players have had 200 hits since Baerga, you can really put into perspective how great he was in the early portion of his Indians' career.

What's really sad is that thanks to two strike-shortened years in 1994 and 1995, Baerga lost a chance to really put his stamp on history, as he would have likely continued his 200, 20, 100, .300 streak.

You couldn't mention Roberto Alomar without mentioning Carlos Baerga. Both were incredible friends, played together in Puerto Rico, and while Baerga was crud defensively, they shifted in those leagues, with each playing games at second and short, or second and third.

He was that good.

Baerga came to the Indians in that massive deal with the San Diego Padres that sent Joe Carter west, and brought over Sandy Alomar and Chris James as well. While many consider the Alomar piece of that deal the important one, and it was to an extent, the offense that Baerga brought was far and away superior to anything that Alomar ever did in his career.

Yeah, I said it, and I'm right.

At 21, Baerga made his major league debut in 1990, playing in 108 games. He didn't crush the ball, and really wasn't all that special, but still managed seven homers, 47 RBI, and hit .260. You can chalk that up to youth if you want, because his next five seasons with the Indians were arguably the best for a second baseman in baseball, other than that Alomar guy.

In 1991, he burst through with a .288 average, and a .744 OPS, hitting 11 homers and driving in 69 in his first full season. He followed that out with has to be considered his breakout season, at 23. He played in 161 games, had 205 hits, 20 homers, 105 RBI, 10 SB, hit .312 with an .809 OPS. It was his first turn as an All Star, and he finished 11th in MVP voting. While Albert Belle and Kenny Lofton also burst upon the scene that year, this really was Baerga's team offensively, at the time. He did it all, and did it all well.

In 1993, he was even better, scoring 105 runs, with 200 hits, 28 doubles, 21 homers, 114 RBI, 15 SB, a .321 average and an .840 OPS. He was 24.

It's hard to gauge his next two seasons, because they weren't complete because of the strike, but they were certainly heading to elite level. In 1994, in 103 games, he had 139 hits, 19 homers, 80 RBI and was hitting .314 when the strike ended the season. He certainly would have had the 20 homer, 100 RBI piece of the puzzle. The hits were borderline, but possible, which would have more-or-less locked the .300 average.

At 25, that would have been three straight Rogers Hornsby seasons.

In 1995, in only 135 games because the season started late, he had 175 hits, 15 homers, 90 RBI and was again hitting .314. Yeah, that would have been four straight Hall of Fame like seasons.

They were more or less that anyways.

From that point on, things get murky. Baerga struggled mightily in 1996 compared to his previous seasons. The coaching staff was frustrated when Carlos came into camp out of shape, which was apparently an issue prior to the 1996 season. The Indians then dealt Carlos to New York for Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino, in a not surprising but pretty saddening deal.

Here was Baerga, all of 27-years old, leaving the Indians and breaking up the core of the team of the first half of the decade. With the impending loss of Albert Belle, things were about to change for the Tribe.

He returned for a brief turn in 1999, but nothing significant. Overall with the Indians, Baerga's slash is .299/.339/.444, with a .783 OPS. He hit 104 homers, drove in 565 runs, scored 549 runs, all in less than 1,000 games (941).

In the early part of his career, Baerga walked in Major League baseball's immortal clouds as an anchor of one of the best offenses in baseball history.

Boy, you do have to wonder what could have been, had Baerga worked out in the offseason. His career could have been so special.

Roberto Alomar (1999-2001)

When you begin rankings like this, it's impossible to ignore preconceived notions. Mine were complicated, especially when concerning Roberto Alomar. Roberto was one of those players that I always wanted to come to Cleveland, regardless of what it took. In the early-to-mid 90's, I had visions of a shifting Carlos Baerga, and an infield that included some mix of Thome, Alomar, Baerga and Vizquel. In the post Baerga era, he seemed like a natural fit between 1996 and 1999, with a fairly glaring hole up the middle. I mean, I liked Tony Fernandez and David Bell as much as the next guy, but are you kidding me?

When they got Alomar in 1999, I thought it was too late, and while those Indians' teams were still really good, I was already taken aback by Alomar, and saddened, watching the Indians' greats slowly but surely leaving for greener pastures and bigger money.

If only Alomar could have been on this club earlier. There were discussions after the 1995 season to bring him into the fold, but Baltimore offered him a substantial deal, and the Indians really didn't need him. It's not like Baerga wasn't hitting the ball, and while he could move, Alomar would have been a luxury. It is ironic that Baerga would be gone by July of that same season. It was also Ironic that Roberto Alomar hit the game-winner in the top of the twelfth inning to give the Orioles the series victory. Mind you, Alomar had just spit on John Hirschbeck at the end of the 1996 season, then called into question Hirschbeck's demeanor after his son died from ALD in 1993. He had been suspended for five games, but was allowed to play after appealing the decision. Umps threatened to boycott, and upheld game one by 17 minutes, threatening to sit. Then Alomar dropped his appeal. Then MLB forced the umps to work via a court injunction. ridiculous.

Bitter feelings remain. I know...20-years ago...I need to get over it. Back to the point.

Still, as I mentioned before, Baerga and Alomar routinely switched positions in winter ball together, and with Sandy Alomar on the team, I shutter to think what could have happened had this move been made prior to the 1996 season.

In 1999, the Indians finally pulled the trigger and signed the other Alomar to a four-year deal, and Alomar arguably had the best four-year stretch of his career. He never hit below .310, and he finished in the top-five of MVP voting in both 1999 and 2001. He made the All-Star game in all three full seasons with the club.

In that 1999 season, Alomar had a slash of .323/.422/.533, with 24 homers, 120 RBI and a league leading 139 runs. He stole 37 bases on top of that, and really became a leader on a club looking to finally get over the hump and win the World Series. He finished second in Major League baseball with a 7.4 bwar, a tenth more than Manny Ramirez.

In 2000, his "worst" season with the Indians, he hit .310, with 19 homers, 89 RBI, 39 stolen basses and 111 runs scored.

In 2001, he had perhaps his best ever season, hitting a career best .336, with 113 runs scored, 20 homers and another 100 RBI.

That was his offensive production, but it's impossible to overlook the defense that Alomar provided. Remember, his infield mates were pretty darned good at what they did as well. No, Jim Thome isn't a star defender, but with Omar Vizquel at short and Travis Fryman at third, you could argue that the infield defense was one of the best in baseball at the time, and arguably, in baseball history.

Alomar's career numbers with the Indians are fleeting, but nonetheless, special. His Cleveland slash is .323/.405/.515 for a .920 OPS, and he truly had the best production of his career with Cleveland, even though that is often overlooked. While most of his memorable games came with the Toronto Blue Jays, had the Indians managed to win a Series during his tenure, it's possible he could be wearing an Indians' cap in the Hall of Fame right now.

After three magnificent seasons, the Indians began a rebuild after the 2001 season, and decided to get what they could for their MVP candidate. They got Matt Lawton, Alex Escobar, Jerrod Riggan and Earl Snyder.

I'll just leave it there.

While I would say it's safe to say Roberto Alomar's name doesn't immediately jump into most fans' heads when thinking Indians, it is safe to say that his numbers on both sides of the ball are supremely special.

Ronnie Belliard, 2B (2004-2006)

I know what you're thinking: "What is he thinking?"

Here's the thing...Belliard wasn't horrible. As a matter of fact, if you look at the metrics, he had two 3+ WAR seasons with the club in 2 1/2 seasons with the club. Jason Kipnis has three such seasons in four years. Yes, Kipnis is an overall better player, which I'll get to in a second, but Ron Belliard was a pretty good player.

Like Tony Bernazard before him, he came to the Indians in 2004 after a vagabond sorta career, but unlike Bernazard, he had been a regular for several years with Milwaukee and Colorado. He was 29-years old in his first season with the Tribe, and ended up having his first and only All-Star appearance that same season.

That year, the roly poly member of the infield hit 12 homers and drove in 70 runs, with a .774 OPS. He struck out a little too much, but walked 60 times, and did what he was supposed to do. He followed that up with a near duplicate season in 2005, upping his power to 17 homers and 78 RBI, with the same .774 OPS. In 2005, while hitting .291, with eight homers and 44 RBI, the Indians dealt him to St. Louis for Hector Luna.

A few things were working against Belliard. He got knocked for his weight. He got knocked for not being Brandon Phillips, who became pretty damn awesome in Cincinnati. BUT. HE. WAS. GOOD.

That 2004 team was an odd one. It had a ton of youth, led by Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez and Coco Crisp. Belliard was brought in to make an impact as a veteran, and Casey Blake was on that team too, in the same mold. Belliard had a pretty solid year defensively as well, and that team won 80 ballgames, with some more future talent about to join the team full-time in 2005.

Enter Jhonny Peralta and Grady Sizemore, and that 2005 Indians team just took off, winning 93 games and missing the playoffs, even with the best run differential in all of baseball. Belliard wasn't the major producer on that team, but he did what he was supposed to.

Overall, with the Indians, Belliard hit .285, with a .770 OPS (both higher than Kipnis), and will often be overlooked in the annals of Indians' greats.

Jason Kipnis, 2B (2011-)

Kipnis is the most recent second sacker on the list, and he WON'T be the last in the rankings. Not by a long shot. It's easy to take for granted Jason Kipnis and his early accomplishments with the Tribe, especially when considering the gaudiness of the 1990's and early 2000's. But Kipnis is a solid producer for the Tribe offensively, and has worked himself into a pretty good defender as well.

Kipnis raced his way through the minor league system, dominating each league he was in, and pretty much forcing his way onto the club during the summer of 2011. Most experts predicted that Lonnie Chisenhall was better, and that he needed a full year in Columbus at second before debuting with the club in 2012.

They were all wrong.

Kipnis worked his butt off during him minor league tenure with the Tribe, trying to convert himself into an infielder, after playing in the outfield in college. He improved every year, and it was just a matter of opening up second base in 2011. When the Indians brought him up on July 22nd that year, the writing was on the wall for Orlando Cabrera. He was traded to the Angels just a week later.

Kipnis broke out with seven homers and 19 RBI, and an .841 OPS in just 36 games with the team. The one thing to note there is that he was injured early on, missed almost a month, then returned for the stretch run in September.

He played his first full season in 2012, hitting 14 homers with a .714 OPS. What's interesting to note about this season is that he had full months of hot play. In May, he hit .295, with five of his 14 homers, and an .810 OPS. This hot/cold play is a trend that followed him throughout his career.

He broke out in 2013, making his first All-Star game after winning player of the week twice in June, then winning player of that same month. In 27 games, he had a .419/.517/.699 slash, with four homers and 25 RBI. He single-handedly carried the club that month, which is the type of offense he can showcase. He ended the 2013 season hitting 17 homers and driving in 84 runs, with 30 stolen bases and an .818 OPS.

Kipnis struggled for much of the 2014 season with an oblique injury, hitting only .240 for the year, with six homers and 41 RBI. Many were concerned about the second baseman all season long, because of his struggles both offensively and defensively, wondering aloud if he played the game "too hard" to stay healthy.

He answered those questions pretty substantially in 2015 with another pretty typical Kipnis year. He ended up hitting .303, which surprised the many who figured he couldn't hit over the mythical .300 level. His power stayed below 10 homers, but he had a career high 43 doubles and seven triples to compensate. His .823 OPS was the best of his career. True to form, he also had another one of those "Kipnis months." In May, Kipnis played in 29 games, hitting a crazy .429, with four homers and 17 RBI.

Kipnis is still a project to be watched here. There's a small part of me that believes he has a full season of 'power months" yet to be put together. If he ever does that, he will move up this list substantially.

Overall, Kipnis currently sits at a slasy of .272/.346/.411, with 100 stolen bases, 272 RBI and 343 runs.

Here are my rankings:

#12: Tony Bernazard

I loved watching Tony Bernazard play for those 1980's Indians' teams. He doesn't hold a place in my heart like Duane Kuiper, but there was something about those teams, and Bernazard's better-than-you-think numbers that allowed me to put him on this list. He had a big-time season in 1986, which was likely the best-season-at-second-base-for-the-Indians-I-had-ever-seen-up-to-that-point. He had some pop at a position that didn't have a lot of pop.

#11: Bill Wambsganss

Okay, he started at second in a World Series, and he had an unassisted triple-play. It sorta begins and ends there. He wasn't really all that special, in any regard, although he did have some longevity. I have no problem with him being out of my top ten.

#10: Duane Kuiper

When Kuiper joined the Indians in 1974, the Indians second base position had been an utter mess since Bobby Avila left the club in 1960. This isn't to say that Kuiper was anything special, but he did solidify the position for a fairly bad Indians' team in the 70s. I know, there are high marks, right? That said, Kuiper was respected by the clubhouse, was one hell of a defender, and was a guy I thoroughly enjoyed watching as a youngster.

#9: Ronnie Belliard

He played more than two full seasons, and was better than people remember, on both sides of the ball. He could hit, even though he wasn't a top hitter in the league. He was a veteran on the team, and while he could be a bonehead at times, it was a lot of fun watching him play. The simple facts are this: there aren't many players on the other side of Belliard that can lay claim to being better, in any regard, than Belliard's two full years here. That may say a whole lot about the position, than anyone else.

#8: Johnny Hodapp

Hodapp was a utility guy, for the most part, until 1930. His season was so special though, that I moved him ahead of a guy like Belliard, who actually was a pretty similar player in some regards. Still, Hodapp played every game in 1930, had an unreal 225 hits and 51 doubles that year, on his way to hitting .354. He didn't play a lick of second base until 1929, and had hit .300 most of those seasons, playing third. It really makes you wonder what he coulda done had he played at second all those seasons. On biggie gets him up to #8 here.

#7: Odell Hale

Hale was pretty outstanding, and he could have moved up on this list had he just played more games at second base. He preferred third base, and actually seemed to play better there. That's not to take away the solid numbers he had at both positions. In nine seasons with the Indians, he had a 14.7 WAR, while hitting .293, with 72 homers and 563 RBI. He played for some very good Cleveland Indians teams, and was one of the better players on those teams. He can't be overlooked.

#6: Jason Kipnis

The fact that I considered Kipnis for the top five should let you know where he's headed on this list. If he backs up last year with another season of similar value or better, I could see him making a jump into the top five. How high would be dependent on how good his season is. Kipnis does everything slightly above average, and when he gets everything going, he's one of the best players in baseball. While his diminishing returns later in the season concern me, his overall numbers are just too good to overlook.

#5: Bobby Avila

Avila's anchor season, that sublime 1954 season, was just so good. He hit .341, nearly won the MVP, and helped carry the Indians to the World Series. Of course, the one memory my Dad has from that World Series is that Avila "couldn't hit the ocean with a fish." Bitter memories linger. But, from 1951-1954, Avila's WAR was never lower than 4.4, and over his ten-year career with the Tribe, his overall WAR was more than the three guys in front of him not named Lajoie (26.4). Was he an All-Time great? For the Indians, you bet your ass he was.

#4: Roberto Alomar

In a pure numbers sense, Alomar should be higher here. Offensively, he may have been the best to ever play the position for the Indians, and he arguably played his best seasons on the North Coast. In truth, the only thing keeping Alomar away from the top two slots are old hangups on my part, and longevity. He only played three years for the Indians, but his whopping 19.3 WAR is nearly better than Gordon and Baerga, who had seasons more than Alomar. His .920 OPS is tops for all second baseman in Indians' history, and is .323 average is second only to Lajoie. I haven't even talked about his defense yet, as he is certainly in the 'best all-time at second' conversation, and that doesn't exclude Cleveland. Seriously, was there ever a better defender at second...in Cleveland...than Alomar? The only question in my mind is the simple fact that I've never seen Gordon or Lajoie play. That said, were they better? Were they just as good? If they were, phew, they were good. Still, Alomar just doesn't feel like a Cleveland Indians' player to me, in the end. He was sort of a vagabond in that he played with Toronto for five years, Cleveland, San Diego and Baltimore for three years each, and the Mets and White Sox two years each. So, he loses some cred for me there.

#3: Joe Gordon

So, Gordon's overall numbers aren't that special with the Indians, when considering the guy that's at #4. Gordon's best seasons also came with a different club. With all of that said, you can't discount a few things Gordon did with the Indians. He was a defensive wizard, by all standards, and was the starting second baseman for a Cleveland Indians World Series team. His WAR with the club during his four seasons was an impressive 19.6, which nips Baerga's 19.5. On top of that, he was essentially the team's ambassador to two players that could have taken his job in Larry Doby and Bobby Avila, and really helped both minority players have success entering a big league culture that wasn't conducive to their success. You just can't measure that in numbers.

#2: Carlos Baerga

In previous polls that I've done, I've had Carlos third, but after considering the longevity and the massive production during his best four-year stretch, the decision to bump him up past Roberto Alomar. For me, you start with his two massive season in 1992 and 1993 that really bridged the youthful Indians from rebuild into their prime. While Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome are the names that jump off the page first, Baerga was THE FIRST player to really make a massive impact. During those two years, he had 405 hits, 60 doubles, 41 homers and 219 RBI, while hitting .316. He wasn't too far behind that in 1994 and 1995, and could have entered hallowed ground, had the strike not shortened those two seasons. had issues not have cropped up in 1996 with regards to keeping in shape, he could have been way higher in my overall list, and given Lajoie a run for his money. As it stands, Baerga is the second best Indians' second baseman of all time. Not to shabby.

#1: Nap Lajoie

First superstar in baseball. CHECK

Team essentially named after him. CHECK

Player-Manager. CHECK

I could go on-and-on here, but the simple fact remains, Nap Lajoie was one of the true greats of the game, and most of his career was played in Cleveland. There truly hasn't been another player with the longevity to make a true case at knocking him off the list. Roberto Alomar's numbers are scintillating, but he only played in THE LAND for three seasons. Carlos Baerga is another name mentioned, and has five outstanding seasons, but again, longevity wasn't kind to him. In Lajoie, you had a tenacious player that fit the mold of those old-time, crotchety players of the era. He was a blue-collar scrapper that earned white-collar status, and entrenched baseball into the Cleveland psyche. On top of all that, he was a free agent, before there was free agency, and literally coined the term superstar, long before Babe Ruth. He led the league in hitting officially twice (unofficially, three times), and led the league in hits with the Indians three times. His numbers took a hit during his player-manager days, but he realized that, and stepped down.

Look, he's the foundation of Cleveland baseball, and he'll be in the running for the #1 Indians' player of all-time. There just isn't another second baseman that can touch him.
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