The Nostalgia League: April results
As an experiment, I have assembled 18 Cleveland baseball teams from all eras to compete in a 162 game schedule for the Best Team in Cleveland History using Out Of The Park Baseball 13 (OOTP), which is a baseball simulation game. Below are the results for April, and if you missed them here is the Nostalgia League preview and the opening day results piece.
Batter of the Month
1995 left fielder Albert Belle spent the month of April pummeling opposing pitchers hitting to the tune of .371. His 11 home runs and outstanding 31 RBI were worthy of the Player of the Month Award.
In 1995 Belle led the Indians to the playoffs for the first time in 41 years and the Indians won the AL pennant before losing in six games to the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. Belle was only the second player to put a 50 home run and 50 double season together, and he did it in only 144 games because the 1995 season was delayed by the 1994-95 MLB lockout.
Belle was somewhat of a problem child missing games after being caught with a corked bat or hitting a fan in the chest with the baseball. In the end, Belle left the Indians as their all-time home run leader (later surpassed by '95 teammates Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome) when he signed with the White Sox as a free agent after the '96 season.
Pitcher of the Month
1926's George Uhle was fantastic on opening day and kept it going by posting a 5-1 record in the month of April. Opponents hit only .230 off of the 27-year old righty and he compiled an impression 1.88 ERA. He pitched 48 innings and struck out 39 batters.
Uhle, a native Clevelander, spent the first ten years of his career in Cleveland twice leading the AL in wins (26 in 1923 and 27 in 1926). In 1926 he threw 32 complete games in going 27-11 with a 2.83 ERA. Uhle spent 17 years in the majors and returned to Cleveland in 1936 for a swansong (7 games) in an Indians jersey.
Players of the Week
April 11th: 1997 left fielder David Jusitce went 14-for-30 (.467) hitting three home runs and driving in six to win the first Nostalgia League player of the week.
April 18th: 1997 right fielder Manny Ramirez hit .522 to give the 1997 Indians back-to-back player of the week awards. Ramirez hit five home runs and drove in ten. The former first rounder scored seven runs.
April 25th: 1995 LF Albert Belle hit .444 with four home runs and nine RBI to garner the player of the week award.
Lajoie's Liners (1908)
The Team: The Naps strung together six consecutive wins from April 10 through April 16.
Offense: Second baseman Napolean “The Frenchman” Lajoie set the pace for the 1908 offense with a .292 batting average with seven doubles, one triple and one home run with 23 RBI. Shortstop Terry Turner swiped 19 bases and right fielder Bill Hinchman homered five times. The 1908 Naps are last in the Nostalgia League in six of the major offensive statistics including runs scored.
Pitching: Glenn Liebhardt went 4-1 in five starts and held opponents to a 2.19 ERA and a team leading 33 strikeouts. Liebhardt pitched four years in the majors all with Cleveland and posted a 15-16 record in 1908. Liebhardt's son of the same name pitched in the majors in the 1930's. Jake Ryan has taken over the closer duties and had seven saves in April. The 1908 Naps are 4th in team ERA.
The Jolly Mollies (1913)
Game Highlights: Second baseman Nap Lajoie homered (2) and drove in five runs in going 3-for-5 against 1932 on April 7th. Cy Falkenberg threw a three-hit shutout on April 8th as the Naps won 2-0 over the 1932 Indians.
The Team: The 1913 Naps used a string of eight straight wins to streak to the front of the Boudreau Division (tied with the 2007 Indians).
Offense: Right fielder Shoeless Joe Jacksson set the bar with a .320 batting average with 12 doubles and one home run. Center fielder Nemo Leibold (the Mollies' primary designated hitter) drove in 21 runs with a .293 batting average. Ranked 9th in the Nostalgia League with a .262 batting average, the Mollies swiped 42 stolen bases to set the pace.
Pitching: Cy Falkenberg used his “emery ball”, a ball legally scuffed with an emery board, to post a 2-1 record with a 2.17 ERA. Frederick Peter “Cy” Falkenberg pitched in five of his 12 major league seasons in Cleveland (two of which were in the Federal League, a rival league of the AL and NL). 1913 was his best AL season posting a 23-10 record (he went 26-16 in 1914 in the Federal League). Fred Blanding, the team's closer, saved nine games. The '13 Nap's lead the Nostalgia League with a 3.00 ERA and runs allowed with 98.
Speaker of the House (1920)
Game Highlights: Tris Speaker's Indians used an eight run fourth inning and a six run ninth to highlight a 17-3 win over the '13 Naps. Both catcher Steve O'Neill and second baseman Bill Wambsganss had four hits and shortstopHarry Lunte went deep (1). Stan Coveleski improved to 3-0 with the complete game win.
Team: The 1920 Indians were true road warriors going 11-3 on the road to climb to 2nd place in the Speaker Division.
Offense: Right fielder Elmer Smith used a team leading five home runs and a .314 batting average in April to highlight the 1920 World Champions. The Sandusky Ohio native hit the first grand slam in World Series history in Game 5 of the 1920 October Classic. Center fielder Tris Speaker posted a .339 batting average to lead the team in batting. The team's .289 batting average and .370 on base percentage were tops in the league and they rank second in runs scored.
Pitching: Ace Stan Coveleski's spitball was on in April as he went 3-0 with a 2.83 ERA. Tragedy struck Coveleski in May 1920 when his wife suddenly died and Coveleski was granted time off to mourn. Despite the absence that season, Coveleski still posted a 24-12 record with four saves and a 2.61 ERA. While in other seasons he may have posted some better numbers, his 1920 season was his finest altogether. The 1920 Indians currently rank last in four pitching stats and 16th in ERA.
Speaker's Last Hurrah (1926)
Team: 1926 won the final four games in April to draw within two games of first in the Boudreau division. The team currently sits in a tie for 4th place.
Offense: Left fielder Charlie “Cuckoo” Jamieson drew 17 base-on-balls en route to a .395 on base percentage and that combined with his .305 batting average with six doubles, two triples and one home run to post a team leading .824 OPS. Jamieson played outfield for the Indians from 1919 to 1932 and in 1928 he is the only outfielder to ever initiate two triple plays in the same season. The 1926 offense ranks second in batting average and 6th in runs scored. The team is the hardest to strikeout.
Pitching: George Uhle won the April pitcher of the month award but closer Sherry Smith (2-0) saved seven games while registering a pristine 0.00 ERA. Smith was on the losing end of the 1920 World Series with the Brooklyn Robins, but Smith joined his former foe in the 1922 season and spent parts of six seasons in Cleveland. In 1926, Smith made 24 starts for the Indians but the OOTP AI is using him as the team's closer. The 1926 pitching staff is in the lower end of productivity at 13th in ERA and 15th in runs allowed.
Pecking Order (1932)
The Team: The 1932 Indians used a 7-5 road record to offset their 5-9 home record to end the month of April four games back.
Offense: Center fielder Earl Averill hit eight home runs and posted a 1.046 OPS (.346/.430/.635) and led the team with 22 ribbies. The six-time All-star and Hall of Fame inductee spent parts of 11 seasons roaming the outfield at both League Park and Cleveland Stadium. He is the Indians all-time leader in total bases, runs and triples despite not making his Major League debut until he was 27 years old. Third baseman Willie Kamm ended the month on an 8-for-18 streak with three doubles and two home runs. The 1932 team hit .273 in April which is good for 4th place in the Nostalgia League.
Pitching: Swingman Willis Hudlin made three starts and eight relief appearances to lead the team with a 4-1 record with two saves. Hudlin's 2.38 ERA in 34 innings are tops on the team. While Hudlin threw overhand he would occasionally use a “dip of the wrist” pitch (sidearm) to fool batters. Hudlin made his debut for the Indians in 1926 and pitched there into the 1940 season (when he spent time with four teams). April was not a good month for the rest of the Indians pitching staff and the team finished April with the 10th worst ERA in the Nostalgia League.
Crybabies Crib (1940)
Game Highlights: First baseman Al Troskey hit two home runs (8) and drove in five runs in a 13-5 win over the 1932 Indians.
The Team: April started out good as the 1940 Indians swept the 1995 Indians in three games, outscoring them 17-11, but then the team couldn't keep things rolling and finished April with an 11-15 record and seven games back.
Offense: First baseman Hal Trosky hit nine home runs and had 25 RBI in April to lead the 1940 Indians. Trosky's .333 batting average topped the team. Trosky, who suffered from migraines starting in 1938, is considered the best player to never make an all-star game. His 216 career home runs ranks 6th on the Indians all-time list. The 1940 Indians April offense ranks in the lower half of all the stats except for strikeouts. They rank 10th in runs scored and 14th in batting average.
Pitching: Rapid Robert Feller made six starts and held the opposition to a .153 batting average and a 1.71 ERA. The 21 year old right-hander struck out 52 batters. Feller, who is on four teams in the Nostalgia League, was voted the all 20th century team and was considered the best pitcher of his era. Feller broke in with the Indians as a 17 year old in 1936 and spent all 18 of his major league seasons in Cleveland and was a member of the Indians in some capacity until his death in 2010. April was also a poor month for the 1940 pitching staff as (like their batting average) the team ranked 14th in ERA.
Boudreau's Bombers (1948)
The Team: It was feast or famine for the 1948 Indians in that in their 15 wins they averaged better than six runs per game but in the 11 losses they only averaged two runs per game. The team won seven of nine games from April 19th through April 27th and are currently one game back in the Boudreau Division.
Offense: First baseman Eddie Robinson leads the Nostalgia League with a .383 batting average and his 1.025 OPS leads the 1948 Indians. The left-handed hitting Texan broke in with the Indians in 1942 and remained with the Indians through the 1948 World Series despite losing three years to military service. Eddie would spend 65 years in baseball as a player, scout, coach and front office executive. Center fielder Larry Doby hit seven April home runs and drove in 25 runs. The .271 batting average ranked 5th in the league and the team's OPS was third best.
Pitching: Negro League legend Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige made 11 relief appearances and was rewarded with a 3-0 record and five saves in the month of April. Paige had an ERA of 1.32. The 41 year old Paige made his major league debut with the 1948 Indians and helped them win the World Series. Paige only spent two of his six Major League seasons with the Indians. In 1948, Paige was allowed to throw his patented “Hesitation Pitch” until the AL president ruled it illegal. Bob Feller (2-2) finished April with two scoreless outings including a 7-0 shutout win against the 1976 Indians. Powered by Feller and Paige the 1948 Indians finished April with the 2nd best ERA and were the best at limiting hits (193), opponent’s batting average (.222) and BABIP (.242). Defensively, the team was rated the best in the Nostalgia League.
114 Wins (1954)
The Team: 1954 started out with a 1-8 record after they were swept in back-to-back series’ by the 1999 and the 2005 Indians on their way to an April worst (tied) 9-17 record and sit nine games out of first place. This was not expected of a team that won 114 games.
Offense: The 1954 offense struggled with a .228 average (16th) and finished in the lower half of all offensive statistics except base-on-balls.
Pitching: Mike “the Big Bear” Garcia lead the staff with a 3-1 record and a 2.68 ERA. The big right-hander spent 12 of his 14 years in Cleveland debuting with the World Champion 1948 Indians and finishing up on the 1959 Indians. Garcia was a member of the “Big Four” starters for the Indians in the '50's. The team's 4.02 ERA tied for 5th.
Lopez '56 (1956)
Game Highlights: First baseman Vic Wertz hit two home runs and drove in seven runs in a 9-7 win over the 1995 Indians.
The Team: The '56 Indians slumped to 8th place with a 9-17 April but won three of their final five April games.
Offense: Rookie right fielder Rocky Colavito hit six home runs and posted an OPS of .906 to lead the 1956 Indians offensively. Debuting late in 1955, The Rock was a strong armed right fielder once throwing a ball over the centerfield fence from home plate (436 feet). Rocky would become an Indians favorite and hit 40 home runs in 1959 before Frank “Trader” Lane dealt him in an ill-fated trade to Detroit. First baseman Vic Wertz homered 11 times and drove in 27 to lead the team in those categories. The team's anemic .233 batting average ranks 15th and their one stolen base ranks dead last in the Nostalgia League. The only bright spots offensively are the 35 home runs (6th) and the 96 walks (4th).
Pitching: Relievers Don Mossi (1-0, six saves) and Cal McLish (1-1) combined for 28 innings in 26 games with 1.45 and 2.89 ERA's respectively to lead the '56 pitching staff. Mossi is a left-handed control pitcher that broke in with the 1954 Indians and was an important reliever in their AL championship season. Mossi remained with the Indians through the 1958 season before being traded to Detroit for second baseman Billy Martin and pitcher Al Cicotte. As one would surmise if two relievers are lauded above anyone in the rotation, then it was not a very good April for the ’56 team, and that is the truth of the matter. The team's 4.96 ERA ranks last and every other statistic puts this team's pitching staff in the bottom half.
Gordon's Gamers (1959)
Game Highlights: Cal McLish (2-2) went the distance in shutting out the 1999 Indians 4-0 and on April 29th he pitched another shutout in a 2-0 win over the '13 Naps.
Team: The '59 Wahoo’s won four of their first five and six of their first nine to finish 14-12 in April only two games back but tied for 4th place.
Offense: Veteran right fielder Rocky Colavito hit a league leading 15 home runs and drove in 30 runs to lead the '59 team offensively. Colavito's slash of .298/.381/.779/1.160 puts him 2nd in OPS, and 2nd in RBI. Colavito would be the first Indian to hit 40 home runs in a season and tied a Major League record with four home runs in a game on June 10, 1959.
Pitching: Relievers Humberto Robinson (0-1 with seven saves) and Bud Podbielan entered 23 games and pitched 27.1 innings for the '59 Indians. Robinson, from Panama, was the first player from his country to appear in the majors with the Milwakee Braves. 1959 was his lone season in a Cleveland uniform but he only appeared in five games before being dealt to Philadelphia for Granny Hamner. The '59 Wahoo’s ranked 15th in ERA and the pitching staff ranks low in many statistics. The team did finish second in BABIP and the team is the 2nd ranked defensive unit.
Scared of the Dark (1968)
The Team: A 7-5 home record fueled the '68 Indians to an 11-15 April mark. The strong armed '68 team sits in 6th place seven games behind their division leaders.
Offense: Catcher Duane “Duke” Sims used a .391 on base percentage to boost his OPS to a team leading .877. His three home runs and 15 RBI tied for the team lead. Debuting with the Indians in 1964, Sims was the Indians catcher through 1970 and caught an Indians pitching staff which was considered one of the best of their era. Sims was traded to the Dodgers after the 1970 season. He is the all-time home run leader for players from the state of Utah (100). Offense is the '68 team's weakness hitting just .226 (17th) and scoring only 95 runs (16th). The team does rank fourth with 24 stolen bases.
Pitching: Sudden Sam McDowell (3-3) held opposition hitters to a .190 batting average and 2.54 ERA. His 61 strikeouts are second in the league to teammate Luis Tiant. In 1968 McDowell won 18 games and led the AL in strikeouts with 283 and finished 2nd in ERA to teammate Tiant. The 6-5 lefty pitched 11 seasons in Cleveland before being traded for future Cy Young winner Gaylord Perry. The team is number one in strikeouts with 260 including the 17 by Luis Tiant on opening day on April 3rd, though the team ERA is only 9th in the league (4.14). The '68 Indians are the 3rd ranked defensive team.
Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood (1976)
The Team: The Indians were 9-8 before a nine game losing streak to end April sunk the team to last place and seven games back.
Offense: Third baseman Buddy Bell holds the second best batting average at .381 and with three home runs, 12 RBI, and 18 runs scored. Bell was a fixture at third base for the Indians from 1972 until being traded to Texas after the 1978 season. Bell was a stellar defensive third baseman throughout his MLB career finishing with an all-time zone rating only behind Brooks Robinson among third baseman (9th for any position). Bell won six Gold Gloves in his career. Left fielder George Hendrick leads the team with six home runs and 18 RBI. Hitting .268 the '76 Indians rank 7th, but are 13th in runs scored and their best offensive rating is avoiding strikeouts where their 140 ranks 5th.
Pitching: Dennis Eckersley put up a 3.47 ERA but could only post a 1-3 record, and his 45 strikeouts are tops on the team. Eckersley held the opposition to a .191 batting average. Eckersley debuted with the Indians in 1975 and has the 200th Major League no-hitter to his credit in 1977 as a member of the Indians. The Indians traded Eck after the 1977 season when his wife left him for teammate Rick Manning. The Indians felt they needed to decide which player to keep and kept Manning. Eck would win 20 games for the 1978 Red Sox. When his career looked on the ropes in 1987, manager Tony LaRusa of Oakland experimented with Eck as a reliever and his career rebounded. From 1988 through 1997, Eck was the major's most effective closer saving 390 games. The ’76 team's ERA ranks 12th and the team's defensive rating is next to last.
At the OK Corrales (1986)
Game Highlights: On April 6th catcher Chris Bando hit two home runs (2) including a grand slam as he drove in seven runs against the 1940 Indians.
The Team: A 10-3 win over the 1920 Indians on April 21st in which first baseman Julio Franco homered twice was the highlight of the month as the Indians fell to 11-15 good for 8th place and seven games back.
Offense: The chicken eating second baseman Tony Bernazard finished April with an 11-game hitting streak to raise his average to .320 with eight home runs and 24 RBI. The superstitious Bernazard would eat only Chicken during streaks. On the negative side, Bernazard had a streak of going 0-for-44 for the Tribe in 1984 which ranks as the longest streak (tied) by any non-pitcher in MLB history. The ’86 team finished April with a .257 batting average (12th) and the Wahoo’s rank in the lower half of the league in all categories except for their 33 stolen bases (3rd) lead by outfielder Otis Nixon's 20 steals.
Pitching: Don Schulze went 2-0 with a 1.73 ERA (good for 2nd) to lead the 1986 team in pitching. Shulze held the opposition to a .161 batting average. Schulze came to the shores of Lake Erie in a blockbuster trade which sent eventual Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe to the Cubs. Shulze spent parts of three years with Chief Wahoo on his sleeve in a career lasting six seasons in which he went 15-25 with a 5.47 ERA.
Grover's Greatest (1995)
The Team: The 1995 Indians started late losing four of their first five games, but finished the month strong going 10-5 for a 14-12 record. The team sits six games out of first place.
Offense: Left fielder Albert Belle grabbed the Player of the Month award, and right fielder Manny Ramirez was also very impressive with a .316 batting average and six home runs; however, second baseman Alvaro Espinozastruggled hitting only .189 in April. Center fielder Kenny Lofton hit .257 but scored a team leading 23 runs and 14 stolen bases. The offense started slowly and ranks 11th in average and 7th in home runs. The team does rank 5th in stolen bases for its best ranking.
Pitching: Chad Ogea went 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA to lead the staff. Ogea helped the LSU Tigers to a College World Series championship and twice appeared in the MLB World Series. His six-year career included five seasons with the Indians. 1995 was Ogea's best season in the majors going 8-3 with 3.05 ERA and he would go 31-23 during his Indians career. Bolstered by the starter's ERA of 3.42 (3rd) the 1995 Indians rank 5th overall. The team is the 6th ranked defensive team.
Heartbreak Kids (1997)
Game Highlights: Orel Hershiser (1-1) struck out 12 in a three-hit shutout win over the 2007 Indians and third baseman Matt Williams homered (4) and drove in five. Right fielder Manny Ramirez (3) and left fielder Brian Giles(4) both homered twice and drove in five runs apiece in a 20-2 rout over the 1986 Indians.
The Team: The 1997 Indians went on an 8-2 run to finish the month 12-14 which puts them six games back. Things didn't start out strong for Mike Hargrove's bunch as they dropped the first four games and eight of the first ten.
Offense: Three of the 1997 Indian starters surpassed a 1.000 OPS: Ramirez, Giles and second baseman Tony Fernandez. Giles tied with left fielder David Justice for the team lead in RBI and tied with Justice and Ramirez for home runs with nine. Giles was drafted by the Indians in the 17th round of the 1989 draft, and played on two World Series teams in Cleveland before being traded to Pittsburgh following the 1998 season. The 1997 Indians rank 13th with a .257 average, but lead the league in home runs (54), slugging percentage (.484) and extra base hits (97) as well as 4th in runs scored (137).
Pitching: Twelve times in the month Grover made the call for 36 year old lefty Paul Assenmacher, and acquitted himself well with a 2.45 ERA with a 2-0 record and one save. Assenmacher played fourteen seasons in the majors with four teams including his final five seasons for the Wahoo’s. Assenmacher's 644 appearances on the mound in the 1990's tied him with teammate Michael Jackson. The 1997 Indians are only 7th in ERA (4.07) and are basically middle of the road in most pitching statistics, but they do rank 2nd in strikeouts (228). Their defensive efficiency puts them in 9th place.
Land of a Thousand Runs (1999)
The Team: The Indians marched through April and finished with a 15-11 record and sit three games behind the division leader. The team sported four and five game winning streaks and are in position to give Speaker Division foes a run for the title.
Offense: Second baseman Roberto Alomar got his Indians career off to a fast start by hitting a team leading .351 with nine doubles, one triple and six home runs. Robbie crossed the plate 26 times to lead the team and pushed his OPS to 1.032. After having a distinguished career including playing on two World Series championships teams with the Blue Jays, Alomar came to Cleveland in 1999 to play with his older brother Sandy. Alomar was the complete package not only bringing stellar offense but was widely considered the best defensive second baseman in the game. The double play tandem of Alomar and Vizquel wowed fans every game with great plays. Robbie spent three years in Cleveland before being traded to the Mets. Hitting .269 the ’99 Indians rank 6th but are 2nd in bases-on-balls (112) and on-base percentage (.352). The team is 3rd in runs scored with 145.
Pitching: Former first rounder Jaret Wright went 3-0 with a 3.98 ERA in the month of April. Wright, who is the son of former major leaguer Clyde Wright, got his Indians career off to a quick start going 8-3 but saved his best for the October Classic as he left the seventh game of the 1997 World Series against the Marlins with a 2-1 lead only to see Jose Mesa blow the save and the series. Injuries derailed Wright's career and he bounced around the majors until 2007 playing for four teams after leaving the Indians in 2003. The 1999 Indians pitching staff ranks in the lower half of the Nostalgia League in every major statistic except the bullpen ERA (3rd) and strikeouts (tied for 3rd). The 1999 Indians are currently dead last in defense.
Sand Wedge (2005)
The Team: The 2005 Tribe came out of the blocks running embarking on a nine game winning streak which has propelled them to an 18-8 record and 1st place in the Speaker Division. The Tribe jumped all over the 1968 Indians on April 6th thrashing them 21-4.
Offense: First baseman Ben Broussard hit .337 in April with eight home runs and 21 RBI, and his 1.030 OPS led the team in April. Broussard came to the Indians after being acquired from the Reds for Russell Branyan. In 2005 Broussard would hit a career high in home runs (19). Broussard is also a guitar player that has appeared on three albums. The 2005 Indians rank 3rd in batting average and lead the league in OPS (.825), runs scored (159), extra base hits (97) and are 2nd in home runs with 41.
Pitching: CC Sabathia started off with three wins (3-0) and a 2.68 ERA, and the big lefty struck out a team leading 39 batters. Sabathia was the Indians 1st round pick in 1998 and won the 2007 Cy Young Award before impending free agency compelled GM Mark Shapiro to trade him away. With a 3.78 ERA (6th), the 2005 Indians rank in the middle of the league in most pitching stats. The team is 2nd in base-on-balls and 3rd in strikeouts. The 2005 Indians are ranked 11th in defense.
Pitching Wedge (2007)
Game Highlights: Catcher Victor Martinez went 3-for-6 with two home runs (5) and six ribbies in an 8-7 win over the 1997 Indians.
The Team: The 2007 Tribe finished the month with an 11-3 stretch to vault into first place in the Boudreau Division making it a sweep for manager Eric Wedge (2005 is in first in the Speaker Division).
Offense: The 2007 Indians batted .266 as a team to rank 8th and had 91 extra base hits to rank 3rd.
Pitching: Fausto Carmona (err Roberto Hernandez) went 4-0 with a 2.78 ERA to provide stability for the 2007 Indians. In 2007, Carmona went 19-8 in his best season in the majors and sparkled throwing an almost unhittable sinker. Inconsistency detoured Carmona's career and in 2012 it was discovered that his name wasn't Fausto Carmona but Roberto Hernandez. With an ERA of 3.57 the 2007 Indians ranked 3rd and they rank first in least walks (53). The ’07 Indians have a 10th place ranking in defense.
alright...the '54 team is 9-17...and Otis Nixon is on pace for...well...a whole buncha stolen bases...
tons of fun though...