Cleveland well-represented in ESPN’s top 100 MLB players of all time

Jim Thome #25 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images)
Jim Thome #25 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images) /
Cleveland Indians, Jim Thome
Jim Thome #25 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images) /

ESPN recently released its list of the top 100 MLB players of all time, so which Cleveland ballplayers made the cut?

ESPN just wrapped up its list of the top 100 Major League Baseball players of all time, and it is of course causing plenty of reactions – for instance, Derek Jeter being in the top 30 should make anyone reading this want to immediately puke.

But aside from a few outlandish choices meant to get people talking and more people to visit the full ESPN list, it’s a pretty solid set of rankings.

And best of all, Cleveland’s long baseball history is pretty well-represented in the list. There are a lot of guys on the list who spent at least some time as a member of the Indians (Frank Robinson is the highest at #19), but the highest-numbered player who is truly known for his playing days in Cleveland is Tris Speaker, who came in at #36. In case you wondering (and you should be), Satchel Paige ranked #41, Nap Lajoie was #48, and Bob Feller came in at #50.

In other words, the glory days of the franchise take up plenty of space… and then it’s crickets for a while. For more modern representation, Manny Ramirez makes the list at #68, though far more fans would associate him with his time in Boston, even though he spent the same number of seasons (eight) in Cleveland and had remarkably similar numbers between the two cities:

Cleveland: .313/.407/.592 with 236 home runs, 804 RBIs, 237 doubles, and a 152 OPS+

Boston: .312/.411/.588 with 274 home runs, 868 RBIs, 256 doubles, and a 155 OPS+

Jim Thome Just Makes the Cut of Greatest Players of All Time

Former Cleveland second baseman Roberto Alomar makes the top 100 at #86; he only spent three seasons with the Indians (1999-2001), but they were mighty productive, as Alomar hit .323/.405/.515 with 63 home runs, 114 doubles, 106 stolen bases, nearly as many walks as strikeouts, and a 134 OPS+.

And then, just making the cut at #98, is Jim Thome, the man who hit 612 career home runs over 22 seasons and did so clean, right in the heart of the steroid era. Maybe it’s because he played thirteen of those seasons in Cleveland, or that he never won a World Series title, but barely making the list once again shows just how underrated Thome’s career continues to be.

Thome’s ranking in this list also likely means that when it gets updated again in, say, 10-15 years, he’ll probably be kicked off, which will be an utter disgrace and we’ll certainly be here to raise hell about it. But is it possible we’ll start to see some new Guardians make the list by that point? Maybe Jose Ramirez if he keeps up this kind of production for the next 5-10 seasons?

The Biggest Cleveland Snub?

After digesting ESPN’s list – the beautiful piece of clickbait that it is – and having some time to think about it, who is the biggest Cleveland snub of all? Which former Cleveland ballplayers should have made the cut?