We are celebrating the history of the Cleveland Indians by building an all-time roster. In this installment, we select our choice for the designated hitter.
Next up on my list of the Cleveland Indians All-Time Team is the designated hitter. I am using a designated hitter for two reasons, one it’s an American League team so I am using American League rules, and two can stand watching pitchers hit. It’s like watching a newborn fawn trying to walk.
Of all Indians outfielders since 1947 (If you read my last piece you’ll know why I chose 1947), Manny ranks 1st in RBI (804), Off (267.1) and wRC+ (150), 2nd in home runs (236), and 3rd in runs (665) and fWAR (30.6). His .313 batting average is also the highest of any outfielder since 1947 with at least 1000 plate appearances.
I know that this position is the designated hitter so his defense has nothing to do with this, but I thought I’d throw in an interesting side note here. Manny ranks 4th among outfielders with 64 assists and he’s 3rd with 14 double plays.
Manny grew up on baseball. He attended George Washington High in New York City from 1987-1991. That’s not a mistake, that is a five-year span, he left the school at age 19 without graduating. In fairness, he left because he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 1st round of the 1991 Amature Draft.
Shooting through the Indians system, Manny made his debut on 9 Sept 1993 in Minnesota. He was hitless in that game but followed that up with a two home run game against the Yankees the next day.
That two home run game would be a theme throughout Manny’s career. He ranks 12th in MLB history with 52 two home run games (he also had 2 three home runs games).
Manny made his mark in the playoffs with Cleveland. He is 2nd in Tribe history with 13 postseason home runs (Thome is first with 17) and he is MLB’s career leader with 29 postseason dingers. His 3 two home run playoff games are also a postseason record.
A consummate record breaker, Manny is the only Cleveland player to reach 550+ RBI in four consecutive seasons, accomplishing the feat with 557 RBI from 1998-2001. His 165 RBI in 1999 is still the most by any Indians ever.
Manny was a brilliant hitter and his mind at the plate was as sharp as any hitter in baseball history, but outside the batter’s box, he was completely the opposite. So outrageous were some of his antics that “Manny being Manny” became synonymous with doing something stupid. His ridiculousness is nearly on the level of Yogi Berra and his Yogisms.
In 1997 Manny took part in double-steal involving Jim Thome wherein the duo successfully stole second and third respectively. After Detroit Tiger pitcher Willie Blair received the ball for the next pitch, Manny inexplicably began running back to first base. Everyone was stunned, including Blair who didn’t immediately react.
After hesitating, Blair tossed the ball to first base where Manny was tagged out in an apparent attempt to steal first base. He later claimed he thought the ball was fouled off.
That same year Manny was pulled over by an Ohio police officer and issued a ticket. Upon learning that the officer was going to give him a ticket Manny replied: “I don’t need any tickets, I can get you tickets.”
After the traffic stop, Manny did a U-turn and went the other way where he was immediately pulled over by the same cop and issued another ticket for that infraction.
Manny may have done many foolish things in his career, but at heart, he was just a big kid playing a kids game. His smile seemed to never leave and I think we can all learn a lesson from that. Enjoy the game and lets all just play ball.
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Check out the next installment in this series where I will select the bench on my Cleveland Indians All-Time Team.