#TBT: Building the ultimate Cleveland Indians starting lineup

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Designated Hitter

Travis Hafner (2006)

The Indians have talked about bringing Travis Hafner back as a part-time hitting coach, and for good reason. Pronk, or half project and half donkey, posted MVP-caliber numbers in 2006 while solidifying the middle of one of the best offenses in baseball.

Unfortunately, Hafner’s season was cut short after being hit in the hand by Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson on September 1. At the time of the injury, though, the North Dakota native led the league in slugging percentage (.659) and walks (100); he was second in homeruns (42), RBIs (117), total bases (299), on-base percentage (.439) and extra-base hits (74).

He was the first player in baseball to hit five grand slams before the All-Star break and eventually tied Don Mattingly‘s single-season record when he hit is sixth grand slam of the season in August.

Hafner hit for both power and average, posting a .308 average in the injury-shortened season. He was far and away the greatest designated hitter the Tribe has ever seen and, further, ranks atop the league as one of the most productive designated hitters in baseball history.

There is no doubt that he belongs in the middle of the batting order on any Indians’ all-time list.

Now use the comments section below to build your own ultimate Tribe lineup.

Next: #TBT: Dazzling Indians Spring Training Performances