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Saturday, March 28, 2020

How the Cleveland Indians’ Lineup Dynasty Was Assembled

There’s never really a bad time to “remember some guys,” but with baseball’s return date still up in the air, now seemed like an especially good moment to geek out on some of the best lineups of the past few decades, with a focus on how the groups were assembled. I initially wanted to create a “Top 10 of the Decade” series that would include rankings that were well-balanced between both leagues. But after running the numbers for lineups in the 1990s, I found that the majority of the best lineups were concentrated in the same few teams, mostly led by a core group of hitters performing at an elite level over the course of multiple seasons. The 1998 Houston Astros were the lone National League team that even managed to crack the Top 10 in wOBA, wRC+, or offensive WAR.

Not only did I determine that it would be tricky to rank them relative to each other, it also became clear that one team — the Cleveland Indians — stood out over the rest. Not for one particular season, but for an eight-year run of dominance that began in 1994 and continued into the following decade.

Cleveland’s pitching staffs were typically very good during this period, but the offensive firepower was really something to behold. As I walk you through how these lineups came together, you’ll recognize some Hall of Famers, maybe another future Hall of Famer or two, and a lot of other very good players.

By the time John Hart was promoted to general manager in September 1991, many of the players who would eventually become a core part of the team’s great lineups were either in the minor leagues or just getting their feet wet in the majors. But he certainly had his hand in maintaining the group’s dominance by consistently pulling the right strings when it came to trades and free agency.

 

 

QLE Posted: March 28, 2020 at 01:01 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: indians, lineups

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 29, 2020 at 10:16 AM (#5934689)
The Royals supposedly had a deal to acquire Lofton from the Astros for Brent Mayne, but the Royals insisted on getting a bullpen piece too - Al Osuna. The deal fell apart and the Astros went with the Indians' offer instead.

Really interesting how they found these players through a variety of avenues. Baerga was a really nice find - I don't think anyone expected him to be much.
   2. Adam Starblind Posted: March 29, 2020 at 10:53 AM (#5934700)
I don't think anyone expected him to be much.


Not until Steve Phillips anyway.
   3. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: March 29, 2020 at 11:46 AM (#5934706)
How different does that era become if the Indians pull the trigger on a deal for Pedro Martinez that was centered around Bartolo Colon and Jaret Wright after the 1997 season?
   4. ajnrules Posted: March 29, 2020 at 07:41 PM (#5934812)
Man, this is some nostalgia. I cut my teeth as a baseball fan jumping on the Indians bandwagon in 1995. Of course, that also introduced me to heartbreak early on with some brutal post-season losses between 1995-99.

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