|Name:||Albert Jojuan Belle||Position:||Left Field|
|Accolades:||4 Time All-Star (1993-1996), 3 Time Silver Slugger (1994-1996), Top 10 MVP (1993-1996)|
|Best Season (1995)||143||546||121||173||52||1||50||126||377||73||80||5||2||71%||.401||.690||.317||1.091||.374|
|Post Season Career||18||61||10||14||2||0||6||14||34||17||15||1||1||50%||.405||.557||.230||.962||.328|
Albert Belle taught the Indians what power was. Before him, the team never had a true power hitter. There were players with average power who played a long career, like Earl Averill and those who had slightly more power, but had shorter careers like Hal Trosky, Larry Doby and Andre Thornton, but none could compare to Belle. In 1995 Albert set a new high for home runs in a single season as an Indian with 50 (which was subsequently broken in 2002 by Jim Thome). At the same time he became the first player in baseball history to hit 50 doubles and 50 home runs in the same year. To make it even more impressive, it was a strike shortened season. The next year he blew past the team career record (226 by Averill) by smashing 38 home runs, destroying a record that had stood since 1939 (this record was also broken by Thome in 2001). He is considered the greatest leftfielder in Indians history.
Of all the members of the powerful Tribe teams of the 1990’s, Belle stuck out the most. Not only was he the most talented offensively, but his love of the media and friendliness with the fans, especially children, made him infamous. His anger issues and disrespect towards members of the press were probably the only thing that cost him the MVP in 1995. His numbers far out-shined Mo Vaughn’s that season, but the baseball writers decided to vote for the rotund Boston firstbaseman instead. This wall between him and the media is probably also kept him out of the baseball Hall of Fame.
Statistically, Belle remains second on the team in career homeruns and slugging percent (behind Manny Ramirez) and is first all time in isolated power. His slugging is especially impressive as he ranks 14th all time in all of baseball history. Every player in the top 40 in slugging percent is either in the Hall of Fame, is still on the ballot or is currently an active player (prior to the 2012 season), except Belle. In single season numbers, Belle owns the record for highest team slugging percent for his 1995 campaign and is in the top five for doubles (1995 and 1996) along with his number two in home runs. In postseason play, Belle is the only player that didn’t play in both the 1995 and 1997 World Series to be in the top five in any important statistic. He holds that position in home runs, RBI and slugging percent, even though he only played in two seasons.
A story that exemplifies Belle’s career occurred against the Milwaukee Brewers, before they moved to the National League. After being reprimanded by the first base coach for being tagged out to easily running to second during a double play, Belle made an adjustment to his game. Later in the game when the same situation happened, Belle slammed into Brewers’ second baseman Fernando Vino, knocking him to his back. Belle was out, but the runner was safe at first and we were all reminded an important lesson on how you play the game. The fact that Belle is not in the Indians Hall of Fame yet is a complete travesty that will hopefully be rectified in the near future.
“Sit down. Men play this game.”