Best Indians Teams That Didn’t Win It All

From SABR member Stephanie Liscio at It’s Pronounced “Lajaway” on September 13, 2011:

I thought I would add my thoughts on the best Indians teams to never reach the World Series, and decided to pick 6 since that’s what they did on the SweetSpot, and also because I couldn’t decide which team to cut in order to make it a round 5 teams.


1921 – Record: 94-60, place finished: 2nd.  The 1920 season was one of both tragedy and triumph for the Indians.  Shortstop Ray Chapman died on August 17 after taking a pitch to the head, but the team still managed to finish with a 98-56 record and defeated the Brooklyn Robins in the World Series.  The team remained quite good in 1921, but still finished 4 games behind the New York Yankees (98-55).  Some of the stars of the team included Tris Speaker (Hall of Fame outfield/manager), Bill Wambsganss (2B – turned an unassisted triple play in the 1920 World Series), Stan Coveleski (Hall of Fame pitcher), Jack Graney (outfielder, would later become the team’s radio announcer), and Joe Sewell (Hall of Fame shortstop).  The 1921 Indians scored 925 runs and allowed 712 runs, for a run differential of +213.  Not only is that an incredible run differential, but to score 925 runs in a 154 game season is pretty impressive as well.

1953 – Record: 92-62, place finished: 2nd.  Between the years of 1948 and 1956, the Indians finished in first or second place every year except for 1949 and 1950.  I should add, that even though the Tribe finished 3rd in 1949, they had a record of 89-65; in 1950 they finished 4th, yet had a record of 92-62.  This was an era dominated by the New York Yankees; the Indians reached the World Series (and won) in 1948 and went again in 1954 (where they lost to the Giants, despite a 111-43 regular season record).  Otherwise, every other year from 1948-1956 the Yankees were the AL representative in the fall classic (they even won 5 straight from 1949-1953).  So even though there were some very good Indians teams during this period, they were blocked in many cases by some of those tough Yankees teams.  Manager Al Lopez led the Tribe through a great season in 1953, but they still managed to finish 8 ½ games behind New York.  Despite that, Al Rosen won the MVP award, the first AL third baseman to be named MVP.  Future Hall of Famers on the team: Larry Doby, Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Early Wynn, and Al Lopez.  Scored 770 runs and allowed 627, for a run differential of +143.

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Originally published: September 14, 2011. Last Updated: September 14, 2011.