30 – Joe Carter, 1984-89
The average Indian fan probably hasn’t even heard of half the players who have worn No. 30. Seriously, the list is ugly. Aside from Carter, the most notable ones are Wil Cordero, Ubaldo Jimenez, Dick Donovan and Gene Bearden. Carter is arguably the most overrated player in team history, but far and away the greatest to wear No. 30.
Most commonly worn by: Carter (six seasons)

31 – Cliff Lee, 2005-09
No. 31 has a strong tracker record on the Tribe pitching staff, especially over the past 20 years with Steve Olin, Chuck Finley, Lee and now Danny Salazar. In fact, since 1990 it’s only been worn by two position players (Mark Little and Dave Winfield). For sentimental reasons I’d love to honor Olin with this award, but Lee’s dominance toward the end of his Tribe career earns him the honor.
Most commonly worn by: Jim Perry (seven seasons)

32 – Dennis Martinez, 1994-96
Steve Carlton and Roger Maris are easily the most notable No. 32s in Tribe history, but in terms of actual performance the number has a pretty bleak history. In fact, dating back to 1950, the player who wore the number the longest is the very forgettable Aaron Laffey. Martinez gets the nod for this honor based mostly on his 1995 campaign, which ranks among the most impressive in team history when comparing his numbers to league averages.
Most commonly worn by: Al Smith (six seasons)

33 – Luis Tiant, 1964-69
No. 33 has an odd recent history. Since Eddie Murray was traded in 1996 it’s hasn’t been more by anyone in consecutive seasons. In fact, between the 1998 and 1999 seasons, six different players wore No. 33. But a generation ago, No. 33 was a staple of the Indians pitching staff, having been worn by Mudcat Grant and Tiant for over a decade. Hopefully Nick Swisher can bring some stability back to the number.
Most commonly worn by: Mudcat Grant (seven seasons)

34 – Dale Mitchell, 1948-50
A number of players have worn No. 34 for an extended period of time, most notably Dave Burba and Jim Kern. But Mitchell’s three-year stretch in the jersey was too impressive not to give him the honor. He helped carry the Tribe to the 1948 World Series championship and followed that up with an All-Star appearance the next year. Overall, he hit .321 while wearing No. 34. And I suppose I should at least mention Joe Charboneau, who exclusively wore No. 34 during his brief career.
Most commonly worn by: Steve Hargan (eight seasons)

35 – Stan Williams, 1967-68
We’re starting to enter no-man’s land where certain numbers simply don’t get used. No. 35 has been worn by just four players since 2001, and hasn’t been worn by a player in multiple seasons since Enrique Wilson in the late 1990s. Stan Williams certainly isn’t the most well-known player to wear No. 35 (that distinction would go to Phil Niekro) but as one of the few regulars to ever wear the jersey, he earns this honor. Williams started 47 games for the Tribe over a three-year span in No. 35, and appeared in relief in a number of others, while posting a 3.09 ERA.
Most commonly worn by: Wayne Kirby (five seasons)

36 – Gaylord Perry, 1972-75
No. 36 doesn’t have a great history, but it had a strong 10 year run split between the careers of Gaylord Perry and Rick Waits in the 1970s and early 80s. Perry is the obvious choice here, having worn the number while winning the 1972 Cy Young Award.
Most commonly worn by: Rick Waits (nine seasons)

37 – Jake Westbrook, 2001-10
This honor would probably belong to Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, had Rick Manning not stolen his wife. But since Eckersley was traded and only spent three years in Cleveland, Westbrook’s career was inconsistent and plagued by injuries, but he was selected to the 2004 All-Star team and helped the Tribe reach the 2007 postseason. Fun fact: the number hasn’t been worn by a position player since Beau Allred and Jose Gonzalez in 1991.
Most commonly worn by: Westbrook (nine seasons)

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 1.10.03 PM38 – Rocky Colavito, 1955-57
A player of Colavito’s caliber should be easy to fit into this type of list, but since he wore three different numbers in Cleveland, he only barely makes the cut. Colavito’s first three years were spent in No. 38, and while his best years came in No. 6, his early years were just strong enough to edge out the weak competition for this slot.
Most commonly worn by: Eric Plunk (seven seasons)

39 – Gary Bell, 1958-67
No. 39 has seen a decent run with relievers over the past 20 years, having been worn by Dennis Cook, Steve Reed and others. But it has traditionally be a successful number with the starting pitchers. Bell wore the number throughout his Tribe career and was selected to two All-Star games in the jersey. In the late 1970s and early ’80s, Len Barker carried on the legacy of No. 39.
Most commonly worn by: Bell (10 seasons)

5 Comments

  • Jason Jackson says:

    Joe Carter under-rated? Really? During the last 4 years he was in Cleveland he had 30+ doubles 3 times, 30+ HRs 3 times and 100+ RBI on 3 occasions. Plus, he was also a 30/30 guy. He also ranks in the top 60 all time in HRs and RBI. In reality Carter was one of the most under-rated players in the game at the time.

    • Ryan McCrystal says:

      Carter is so overrated I could write a book on it (and some people have addressed the subject in multiple SABR metric books) But just a very brief explanation as to why everything you say is almost completely worthless information…

      - Plug any halfway decent power hitter into a 3 or 4 hole for an entire season and he will accumulate 20+ HR and 100+ RBI. This is nothing than useless stat padding. Tons of below average players have put up these numbers (Tony Batista, Tony Armas, Joe Pepitone, Jeff Francouer, etc)

      - Carter’s final year in Cleveland he hit 35 HR and drove in 105 RBIā€¦ with a .292 on-base percentage! Basically he failed at his job 70 percent of the time, but because he led the majors in At-bats, he accumulated decent counting statistics.

      - In that 1989 season, Carter drove in 14.7 percent of the runners who were on base in front of him. That’s below average for a 3 or 4 hitter. That same year, players with a higher RBI %: Dickie Thon, Tony Fernandez, Shawon Dunston, Kurt Stillwell, and countless others.

      Joe Carter had a couple halfway decent seasons (1986 was a legitimately good year) but he was a liability as a middle of the order hitter nearly every year of his career.

      • Sean Porter says:

        After reading ‘Moneyball’, I was curious to what players from the past would be viewed by sabermetricians as great hitters, and who would be deemed overrated. Ted Williams, of course, was a ‘Moneyball’ god.

        Then I got to Joe Carter. I was honestly shocked by how pedestrian many of his numbers were. Granted, the 80s and early 90s were not a strong offensive era, but still, it was a bit eye-opening.

        Interesting tidbit on Dale Mitchell: He was called out looking for the 27th and final out for the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series – Don Larsen’s perfect game.

        In a barely related note: Imagine Rocky Colavito in right field, with Roger Maris in center, for most of the 60s. The Indians history could have been drastically different. Instead, the Tigers and Yankees got to enjoy them. Sigh.

        Totally agree with Adam – great series Ryan!

  • Adam Hintz says:

    I just want to chime in and say that I really enjoy this series.