All-Time Indians: Mel Harder

Name: Melvin Leroy Harder Position: Starting Pitcher
Nick Name: Chief Number: 18
Tribe Time: 1928-1947 DOB: 10/15/1909
Accolades: Retired #18, 4 Time All-Star (1934-1937), Top 25 MVP (1934-1935, 1938)
Stats W L W% ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP K/9 BAA
Best Season (1934) 20 12 0.625 2.61 44 29 17 6 4 255.1 246 97 74 6 81 91 1.28 3.2 0.243
Career 223 186 0.545 3.80 582 433 181 25 23 3,426.1 3,706 1,714 1,447 161 1,118 1,161 1.41 3.0 0.265

Mel Harder was the last Indian to get his number retired and the only one who is not in Baseball’s Hall of Fame. The Indians have a team rule that in order for a player’s number to be retired they have to be inducted into Cooperstown first, but Harder has a good reason to be an exception. He played for 20 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, two more than any other player in Indians history. He played his entire career with the Tribe, spanning 3 decades, but was never able to get a glimpse of the post season, joining the team 8 years after one World Series and retiring one year before another.

The most successful part of Harder’s career took place between 1933 and 1939. During this time he made the All-Star team four times and received votes for MVP three times. In the first season of his prime he lead the AL with a 2.95 ERA and lead the league in shut outs the year after. Unlike many other Indians starters that played their whole career with the team, Harder maintained his starting role until the very end, starting all 15 of his games played in 1947.

Harder has lost more games than any pitcher in Indians history. He has also allowed more runs and hits. Of course, he also has pitched in the most games as well with 12 more games played than Bob Feller. He ranks in the top 5 in wins, starts, complete games, and innings. He ranks in the top ten in every other cumulative stat that matters to a starting pitcher. Harder’s best seasons were in the mid to late 1930′s on a very underrated Cleveland team, during the prime of Earl Averill and the emergence of Feller. During that time the Indians never finished worse than fifth in the 8 team American League and were only kept from the playoffs by the lack of playoffs. During his whole career the Indians won 52% of their games. When looking at the greatest Indians of all time, Mel Harder has accumulated a stack of statistics that just cannot be ignored. Mel Harder died in 2002.

Mel Harder

Joseph Coblitz

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 the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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