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Monday, August 19, 2013

All Time All Stars - Cleveland Indians Pitchers

This is part of an on-going series in which I attempt to update the rosters from Sports Illustrated's All Time All Stars board game created in 1973.  My intention is to update the game so I can incorporate modern day stars with the All Time All Stars.

Here are the nine guys Sports Illustrated chose for the staff in 1973:
  • Stan Coveleski SP
  • Bob Feller SP
  • Wes Ferrell SP
  • Mike Garcia SP/RP
  • Mel Harder SP/RP
  • Addie Joss SP
  • Bob Lemon SP
  • Sam McDowell SP
  • Early Wynn SP
This staff has a bit of everything.  An evenly divided staff of left-handers and right-handers gives this team supreme flexibility and if we're talking about how each guy pitched, well, you name it and they've got it. There's a spitballer (Coveleski), a junk baller (Ferrell), and a some guys
Those of you who think Nolan Ryan was one
of the greatest pitchers ever might want to
take a hard look at Mr. Feller here.
with serious heat (Feller, Garcia, McDowell).
The Indians pitching staff is a lot like that of the White Sox in that it's very deep.  There aren't as many Hall of Famers in a Cleveland uniform but the great pitchers in franchise history are not from the Dead Ball Era and thus we can relate to their stats much more easily. Still, there has to be room for improvement, right? As I see it seven of these guys are definite locks.  They're listed below.

Bob Feller is one of the greatest pitchers of all time.  He won 20 games six times and led the league in strikeouts seven times.  The Nolan Ryan of his generation except better in my opinion.  Early Wynn never had a season that jumps out to make you believe he was one of the greats.  Still, he won 300 games in his career which included five 20 win seasons.  He also led the league in strikeouts twice, and innings pitched three times. Wes Ferrell won 20 games six times including four in a row with the Indians.  He might be the best hitting pitcher of all time as well.  Due to WWII Lemon did not make his MLB debut until he was 25.  He still won 207 games with seven 20 win seasons.  He also made seven all star teams.  Coveleski won 20 games six times and retired with a .602 career winning percentage. He led the league in ERA twice and shutouts twice. Addie Joss didn't pitch long but he retired with the second best ERA of all time. Regarded as one of the smartest pitchers of his era, Joss never posted a losing record and his career WHIP is the best in MLB history.  Harder was a career Indian, winning all 223 of his games in a Cleveland uniform. He ranks first in games and third in pitcher WAR in team history.

New guys that are locks: None
There have been several pitchers who deserve consideration but none that stack up with the incredible talent already at hand. Below are the guys, who in my estimation, are the best of the rest.

Guys to consider:
  • Tom Candiotti - The knuckleballer played for some terrible Indian teams but still managed to post a winning record.  Won 151 games in his career.
  • Bartolo Colon - Had a .625 winning percentage with the Indians, the big guy just never seemed to take that next step to stardom. Won a Cy Young in 2001.
  • Mike Garcia - Helped round out the great Indians staff of the 1940s and '50s that included Feller, Wynn, and Lemon.  He led the league in ERA twice and was a three time all star. 
  • Cliff Lee - Struggled with consistency with the Indians but won the Cy Young his last year in town.  A four time all star.
  • Sam McDowell - I don't really know how to describe McDowell. It's like he was part Randy Johnson (left handed, threw really hard) and part Mark Langston in that he was never as good as his stuff indicated he should be. Led the league in strikeouts five times and walks five times. Also made six all star teams and won 20 games once.
  • Charles Nagy - Spent all but his final two games with Chief Wahoo on his hat.  Was the big game pitcher for the resurgent Indian teams of the 1990s.  A three time all star.
  • CC Sabathia - I love Sabathia and that admiration only grew for what he accomplished with Milwaukee after he was traded away from the Indians. Had 20 complete games in a three year stretch and is probably the best bet of all active pitchers to win 300 games. He currently has 202.
  • George Uhle - A forgotten man in history.  Won 20 games three times and in 1926 threw 32 complete games out of 36 starts. 
Pick a reliever:
Who is the best relief pitcher in Cleveland's history?  I honestly have no clue. Here's who I've narrowed it down to:

  • Doug Jones - I think because he was able to hang around for a long time people forgot how good he was in the first half of his career.  Ranks second in Indians history in saves.
  • Jose Mesa - Look what he did in 1995. Incredible. Saved 104 games in basically three seasons.
  • Eric Plunk - I always laughed at his name when I was a kid but the man got people out. He was Mesa's primary set-up man in 1995 and was nearly as effective.  He never had the peak Mesa had but had a more consistent career.
  • Bob Wickman - Probably not the best candidate but he was in town forever and had a few nice seasons. Franchise leader in saves for a career.

Ok, to recap we've got seven locks with three spots to go.  One must be a reliever and the other two will be out of the starting pitching group. The poll is up so go ahead and vote!
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