The Countdown Begins
Before I begin counting down the 100 Greatest Cleveland Indians, a few word about how I ranked the players:
These rankings are based on the time the player spent with the Indians franchise, and does not count years played for other franchises. I didn’t count MVPs, Cy Young Awards, or Gold Gloves, because they weren’t around in the early days, and it would be impossible (not to mention time-consuming) to “give out” the awards myself. So I just didn’t count any awards. Now this hurt some players (as you will see), but I feel it’s the only fair way to rank players over a 100 year period.
Here’s what I used for the rankings:
-For pitchers, I used their average ERA+ for the years pitched with Cleveland, and assigned points in reverse order of top 10 finishes among the AL (10 pts for finishing 1st in a category, and so on).
-For position players, I used their average OPS+ for the years played in Cleveland, and again assigned points for top 10 finishes in categories. I also took the difference in their Fielding Percent vs. the League Average Fielding Percent, and either added or subtracted the result from the total. I also added “bonus” points for certain positions:
+30 points for C and SS
+20 points for 2B and CF
+10 points for 3B
So there you have it. It’s not a perfect system by any means, but it’s the fairest and most concise way I could come up with to compare players from vastly different eras. Judging by the results, I didn’t see too many outliers; most of the Hall of Famers (or soon-to-be Hall of Famers) are at the top of this list. In the next couple weeks, I’ll transfer this list to its separate blog, along with the entire roster of All-Time Indians at this address:
Now without further ado, #100 on the Top 100 Indians off all time….
#100 – OF “Super” Joe Charboneau
The Indians put several players on the list more for their notoriety than for their playing ability. Joe Charboneau was the biggest example of this, and it’s earned him last place on the list.
Charboneau was drafted by the Minnesota Twins unceremonially in the 2nd phase of the 1976 draft. They traded him to the Indians in December 1978. After a year in AAA, Charboneau burst onto the scene by winning the 1980 Rookie of the Year, hitting a very promising .289/.358/488, along with 23 HR. There were “Super Joe” songs recorded, and he was compared to Rocky Colavito. But he never was the same again. He was sent down to AAA the next year after starting the year batting .210/.247/.342 and never regained his hitting stroke. By 1984, he was out of baseball altogether, a staggering collapse.
One of Charboneau’s non-baseball accomplishments included being able to open beer cans with his eye socket.
Charboneau’s collapse was a grim foretelling of things to come in the 1980s. The team wouldn’t finish any higher than 6th place in the AL East the entire decade.