All-Time Indians: Fred Whitfield

Name: Fred Dwight Whitfield, Sr.     Position: First Base    
Tribe Time: 1963-1967         Number: 15      
Accolades: 1965 Top 21 MVP     DOB: 01/07/1938    
Stats G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS OBP SLG AVG OPS
Best Season (1965) 132 468 49 137 23 1 26 90 16 42 2 2 .316 .513 .293 .829
Career 579 1866 205 480 78 7 93 282 104 282 6 13 .298 .456 .257 .754

While first base has generally been a power position over the history of baseball, the Indians have had far more players who were strong defensive players with a decent bat, but little power than otherwise and Fred Whitfield was one of those. Whitfield was originally signed by the Pirates, but was released by both Pittsburgh, then Baltimore before eventually making into the Majors with St. Louis. In 1962, the Cardinals traded Whitfield to the Indians for Jack Kubiszyn and Ron Taylor and his career began.

In 1963, Whitfield was such a solid option at first base that he took over for Tito Francona (current manager, Terry Francona's father), pushing the All-Star into left field. For his effort, Whitfield deserved his full time role, hitting 29 home runs in just 109 games. Over the next few years, Whitfield continued to bloom into an above average defensive first baseman with a pretty strong offensive output as well. In 1965, he really hit his prime, knocking in 90 runs in his first season with at least 130 games played. He also batted .293/.316/.513, all career highs. 

Whitfield's offensive prowess diminished after that season, dropping to a .241 average in 1966 and a .218 in 1967. In total, despite a short period with the team, Whitfield still ranks among the top Indians first basemen in career home runs and RBI and should be considered one of the top ten in team history.

After this decrease in his statistical output, the Indians weren't willing to keep him around, replacing him in the field with Tony Horton and eventually trading him to the Reds for Tommy Harper. After two below average seasons in Cincinnati, he was released and signed with the Expos, only to retire after just four games. After his retirement, Whitfield stayed away from the sport of baseball. He died in 2013 at the age of 75.

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona.

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