Kenny Lofton - how is not in the Hall of Fame?
Casey Blake, my home boy!
I'm not sure some fully grasped how good Grady Sizemore was for a short period of time. I remember Peter Gammons, then of ESPN, doing an interview with the radio station I worked for from 2008-2013.
During the conversation, Gammons mentioned that Sizemore was a darkhorse MVP candidate for the upcoming season. The hosts scoffed. Of course, the injuries eventually derailed what was arguably a Hall-of-Fame early career trajectory, but at the time, Sizemore was absolutely one of the best players in the game, even if few in Cleveland knew it.
Most underrated Indians player of All-time - Grady Sizemore. It sounds like an odd answer, considering only three players generated a higher combined fWAR from 2005-2008. However, he should’ve gone on to become one of the franchise’s all-time greats. Instead, our lasting memory is the injuries which robbed him of his prime years.
Sizemore was on pace to have his number above the right field seats. Instead, far too many remember him as “that guy who was hurt all the time.”
My contribution here is Duane Kuiper. An above-average fielder who provided a few memorable at-bats, he’s probably best known for his home run prowess, or more accurately, lack of home run prowess, with only one dinger for his career (take that, Mr. Stone!).
I chose Kuiper because he had some great baseball cards (his 1978 Topps card is one of my favorite Indians cards), and he played during the greatest period of time, the 1970s to early 1980s. It is mere happenstance that this era coincided with the bulk of my childhood. I swear!
Book Jacoby played nine seasons for the Indians during a time when the team wasn't very good. If you can recall the years of 1984 to 1991 the team was never near the top of the standings in the AL East, but Jacoby was always a hard nosed worker who Cleveland fans could relate to.
He hit .273 in his 9 seasons with the Tribe with 120 homers and 524 runs batted in. He only made the All-Star team twice, but really could have made it a few more times based on how little talent was around him.
I think, technically, Kenny Lofton is the most underrated player in Cleveland's history. Probably he or Addie Joss, who may have been in the pantheon of pitching greats had he not died so young.
As for Lofton, he was about the 5th- or 6th-best player on the team for the majority of his tenure on the North Coast, but he is a surefire Hall of Famer. Just hoping that someday he gets his due. 9th all-time among CFs in career WAR, ahead of Duke Snider, Richie Ashburn, Andre Dawson, Slidin' Billy Hamilton, Kirby Puckett, and Earl Averill - all Hall of Famers.