Joey Belle 1990 Fleer

As an avid baseball card collector as a kid, I was always fascinated by errors on cards. One such error that I always enjoyed was on Albert Belle‘s 1990 Fleer card.

Belle, going by Joey at the time, played in just 62 games in 1989, so it would be understandable for someone to confuse him with the Tribe’s starting shortstop Jay Bell. And that’s exactly what happened on his card. Fleer included “Did You Know” facts on the back of cards that year, and Jay Bell’s fact was placed on Joey Belle’s card.

Needless to say, Joey never played shortstop. And surprisingly, it was Jay, not Joey, who homered on the first pitch he ever saw.

Santana goes deep again

Carlos Santana belted his 3rd home run of the season on Friday, a two-run shot off Aaron Harang. He now has 12 RBI through his first 13 games, putting him on an impressive pace.

Since 1952 (as far back as baseball-reference goes in consecutive years) the only Indian with more RBI through 13 games was Albert Belle in 1989.

Chasing Chris Bando

If Luis Valbuena‘s season in the majors is over (unlikely, since he’ll probably be back in September at the latest) he’ll end this season with the second lowest batting average in team history (min. 175 PA).

The team record, which figures to stand for quite some time, belongs to Chris Bando. In 199 plate appearances in 1985, Bando hit .139.

Bando, the brother of former A’s All-Star Chris, split time with Jerry Willard in 1985. And he’s lucky he was even given the opportunity to raise his average to .139. At the end of April, Bando was batting .040. By the All-Star Break he was batting .071. If it weren’t for a .189 average in August and September, it could have been a lot worse for the local Cleveland product.

Welcome aboard Jayson Nix

The Indians claimed Jayson Nix off waivers from the White Sox yesterday and added him to the big league roster, optioning Jensen Lewis an Luis Valbuena to Columbus.

Nix was a 2001 1st-round pick of the Rockies, immediately making him the most successful 2001 1st-round pick to play for the Indians (our 1st rounders Alan Horne and Mike Conroy never made it to the majors).

The only good thing I can say about Nix is that he’s versatile. A poor man’s Jamey Carroll, if you will. Primarily a second baseman, he’s also played third, short and a little outfield over the past two seasons in Chicago.

He was batting .163 for the White Sox before being designated for assignment – one of the few players with a worse average than Valbuena this season. The thinking behind the move is likely that Valbuena is doing himself more harm than good in the majors. Down in the minors he can rebuild his confidence. Nix may be nothing more than a stop-gap solution until Valbuena straightens things out and gets recalled.

In an effort to find a good note on Nix, I did come across this oddity: he has just 13 career home runs, but three have come off Joe Saunders. He has no more than one homer against any other pitcher.

Branyan enters the record books

Russell Branyan made his 3,000th career plate appearance last night, qualifying him for baseball-reference’s list of all-time leaders for at-bats per home run. He checks in at 14th with a 14.9 mark, just behind Ted Williams. Of the 13 players in front of him, four are in the Hall of Fame (Ruth, Kiner, Killebrew and Williams). Eight of the other nine belong in the Hall of Fame (unless steroids connections keep them out). The only non-HOFer of the group is Adam Dunn.

As an Indian, Branyan has homered once every 15.9 at-bats – ranking him 4th in team history behind Jim Thome, Albert Belle, and Manny Ramirez.

Branyan hits 10th HR

Russell Branyan hit his 10th home run of the season, the first Indian to reach the double-digit mark this season in the team’s 69th game. That’s the longest its taken the Indians to get their first player to 10 home runs since 1991 when Albert Belle hit his 10th in their 72nd game of the season. Prior to 1991, you have to go back to Andre Thornton in 1983 to find the last time it took this long to reach 10 homers (71 games).

Indians face Jamie Moyer tonight

Jamie Moyer has allowed 504 career home runs, one shy of Robin Roberts’ career record. That record could fall tonight against the Tribe.

In his career against the Indians, Moyer has allowed 25 home runs – 6th most he’s allowed to any one franchise. But here’s the stat that really blows my mind: the first Indian to homer of Moyer was Cory Snyder! That was over 21 years ago, on May 2, 1989.

Since Snyder, 13 other Indians have homered off of Moyer. Manny Ramirez leads the way with five, followed by Kenny Lofton, Jim Thome and Casey Blake with two. Among the obscure Indians to go deep off Moyer: Lou Merloni, David Segui and Eduardo Perez.

Somewhat surprisingly, those 25 home runs don’t put Moyer anywhere near the lead for the most victimized pitcher by Tribe. Over the last 50 seasons that distinction belongs to Mark Buehrle – by a long shot.

The cautionary tale of Mark Lewis

Through nine career games Carlos Santana is batting .393 with 2 HR, 8 RBI and a .514 OBP. On Sunday he went 3-4 with a HR, collecting his 4th career multi-hit game.

It’s an impressive start, to be sure, but he isn’t the first Tribe rookie to jump out to a hot start. Over the last 25 seasons, he’s the 8th Tribe rookie with at least four multi-hit games through his first nine career games. It’s an odd collection of names, and hopefully the top name on the list give us reason to temper our enthusiasm about Santana.

Here’s a quick history lesson on Mark Lewis, who was our early 90s version of Carlos Santana…

In late April 1991 the Tribe called up Lewis – Baseball America’s 9th-rated prospect entering the season. The former 2nd-overall pick filled in for Felix Fermin and got off to a torrid start, with five multi-hit performances in his first eight career games. By the end of May he was batting .363 and had shifted over to 2nd base, replacing veteran Jerry Browne.

Lewis looked like a future star, but unfortunately that first month was the highlight of his career. As the everyday shortstop in 1992 he hit just .264 and relinquished the job back to Fermin in 1993. After spending the majority of the ’93 season batting .284 in Tripe-A Charlotte, the Tribe essentially gave up on Lewis when they traded Fermin and Reggie Jefferson for Omar Vizquel. Lewis would start the 1994 season in a platoon with Jim Thome at third base, but was sent back down to Charlotte in May after batting .217 through the first two months of the season.

Lewis was traded to the Reds for Tim Costo in December 1994.

So while it’s fun to watch Carlos Santana and imagine him as the next Victor Martinez or Sandy Alomar Jr. Remember, at one time Mark Lewis was the future of our franchise as well.

David Huff continues to struggle

On April 15 David Huff tossed a complete game against the Rangers. It was his second start of the season. Since that game he’s gone 11 straight starts without pitching into the 7th inning in any of them. Over the last 50 seasons, only four Tribe pitchers have had longer such streaks.

During that stretch Huff is 1-8 with a 7.20 ERA and an opponents batting average of .339.

Essentially everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. His accuracy has been shaky (28 K-27 BB during the streak). And he’s giving up the long ball (10 HR).

At this rate, its only a matter of time before someone is called up replace Huff. Carlos Carrasco is the most likely replacement, but keep an eye on Josh Tomlin who has a 2.81 ERA in 11 starts at Columbus.

Why is Charles Nagy in the Indians Hall of Fame?

That’s a question that was posed to me by a friend of mine (a Mets fan) who visited The Jake this week. He called me shortly after walking through Heritage Park and said that Charles Nagy was the only player whose name seemed to be out of place.

At first I was somewhat taken aback. For Indians fans, Nagy is an obvious Hall of Famer. But I realized that when mixed in with the likes of Bob Feller, Early Wynn and Nap Lajoie, he could look misplaced.

Here are the reasons I gave for why Nagy belongs in our Hall of Fame:

1. He pitched for the team for 12 seasons
Longtime members of the organization are certainly going to be viewed in a different light, and rightfully so. Take any five year stretch of Nagy’s career and he blends in with Dave Burba and Greg Swindell and other decent but unspectacular pitchers to wear the Tribe’s uniform. But as a whole, his career puts him among the Indians all-time greats.

Nagy made 297 starts in a Tribe uniform, more than all but five pitchers in team history. The most recent to reach 300 was Bob Lemon, who last pitched in Cleveland in 1958. He was essentially the first starter to wear a Tribe uniform for a decade or longer since Sam McDowell.

He also ranks 10th in team history in wins and 6th in strikeouts (finished his career 5th, but has since been passed by CC Sabathia).

Statistically speaking, Nagy was our best pitcher over and extended period of time since McDowell. And while any one of his seasons may not have ranked among the seasons of Feller, Wynn or even McDowell, he deserves credit for his body of work.

2. He actually was very good at times
The Indians never really had an ace throughout most of the 1990s, but Nagy made his case for the job multiple times.

As a 25-year-old player in 1992 Nagy went 17-10 with 2.96 ERA for a team that won just 76 games. He was the ace of the staff that year and arguably the ace throughout the 90s.

After an injury-shortened 1993 season, Nagy returned to form in ’94 and helped anchor the staff through their first few years in Jacobs Field. He even started the All-Star Game in 1996 and led the AL in winning percentage with a 17-5 record.

3. He was part of the core group of home-grown talent that anchored our mid-90s teams
Lots of players suffered through the bad years, but Nagy was part of a core group of primarily home-grown talent that led the Indians to greatness in the mid-to-late 90s. Along with Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga and Sandy Alomar Jr, Nagy joined the club at old Cleveland Stadium and suffered through the losing season before leading the Tribe into the glory years of the 1990s. For this reason, he was always a fan favorite.


Nagy certainly doesn’t belong in baseball’s Hall of Fame (he wasn’t even on the ballot in his first year of eligibility in 2009). He was an average pitcher who had a few good seasons. But the Indians Hall of Fame isn’t just about greatness. Its purpose is to honor fan favorites and players who represented the organization for an extended period of time. Nagy was one of the faces of our franchise for over a decade and his induction into our Hall of Fame was well deserved.