All-Time Indians: Luis Tiant

Name: Luis Clemente Vega Tiant Position: Starting Pitcher
Nick Name: El Tiante Number: 33
Tribe Time: 1964-1969 DOB: 11/23/1940
Accolades: 1968 All-Star, Top 5 MVP (1968)
Best Season (1968) 21 9 0.700 1.60 34 32 19 9 0 258.1 152 53 46 16 73 264 0.87 9.2 0.164
Career 75 64 0.540 2.84 211 160 63 21 12 1,200.0 939 431 379 126 432 1,041 1.14 7.8 0.207


Luis Tiant was the first great Cuban born Major League pitcher and has won more games than any other player from his home country (229). In 1962, the Cleveland Indians signed the Cuban refugee out of the Mexican league and he went on to become a borderline Hall of Famer (garnered 30% of the votes in his first year of eligibility), playing for the Indians, Red Sox and others. Although he did not spend the majority of his career with the Tribe, he certainly left his mark. His 1968 season was especially spectacular as he set the Indians record for best opponents batting average during a single season and left marks in the top five in WHIP and ERA. He lead the American League in ERA and shut outs that season as well. That effort earned him fifth place in the MVP voting that year, but he didn’t get Cy Young consideration until he went to Boston. In 1968 he lost the award to Denny McLain who took home 100% of the votes.

In 1969 Tiant had the biggest drop off in Indians history. No other pitcher in team history has went from being a 20 game winner one season to being a 20 game loser the next. His ERA for that season still looks good by today’s standards (3.72), but is more than two runs higher than it had been the year before. The biggest difference between the seasons seems to be his control as he walked 50 more batters in ten less innings. The real reason for the change in win/loss record had a lot to do with luck as 1968 was an outlier for Tiant as far as being great goes and his 1969 numbers were certainly below his talent level. The change in luck along with a poor offense helped Tiant to this unique distinction.

As far as his Indians career goes, Tiant still holds a spot in the top five career BAA of all time and in the top ten in strikeouts, shutouts, K/9 and WHIP. Luis Tiant was eligible for induction to the baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 2012, but was not chosen.

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of and has been since its inception in 2011. He also writes for The Outside Corner and the Comeback and hosts the Tribe Time Now podcast. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians. Follow on twitter @BurningRiverBB