Updated October 2015
The second installment of the Indians Top 10 Positional Leaders will feature the best Indians left fielders of all time.The Indians have had a lot of great outfielders over the history of the franchise and while most of them have been center fielders, there have been a few good ones in left as well, including the second most prolific home run hitter in team history. For more information on any player click on the link on their name for their All-Time Indians Bio.
10. Mel Hall – 1984, 1986-1988 (Years Starting LF)
The 1980’s weren’t that bad of a time to be an Indians outfielder, with Cory Snyder, Brett Butler and Joe Carter all around by 1986. Hall was probably the worst of this group, but at least played long enough to be considered as one of the better left fielders in Indians history.
9. Jack Graney – 1910-1911, 1913-1917, 1919
Graney is what it looks like when a mediocre player plays an extremely long career (to see what it looks like when a good player plays a long career, check out Charlie Jamieson). Graney played in more games than any left fielder outside of Jamieson, but his .250 average was by far the worst on this list. He is one of the few speed outfielders on the list, stealing 148 bases or about 10 per season.
8. Leon Wagner – 1964-1967
Wagner showed a lot of power for the Tribe, hitting 97 home runs in just six seasons. Only one player ahead of him on the home run rankings did it in less games and most played 300 or more games than Wagner. Wagner did this despite playing in one of the hardest times for the Indians, the years between 1955 and 1994.
7. Michael Brantley – 2012-Active
After consecutive near MVP performances, Brantley has moved from tenth after the 2014 season up to seventh after 2015. He has the greatest combination of speed, power and average for an Indians left fielder and is also the top defender on this list. Other than Belle, Brantley is the only left fielder to hit 60 home runs and steal 60 bases and his average ranks sixth among LF with at least 350 games played. He is nearing the number of games played of many of those on this list and still is under contract for multiple years to come. If he continues playing at this rate through his current deal, he could finish 2017 as the third longest tenured LF and possibly as high as number two on this list.
6. Tito Francona – 1960-1961, 1963
Francona is one of four players listed between the 1950’s and 1960’s compared to the single player from 1901-1920 and the zero players listed from 1969-1983. The Indians were lucky to have so many talented outfielders over this time, but they came at a cost. The cost for Francona was Larry Doby, one of the Indians all-time greats.
5. Dale Mitchell – 1947-1953
Dale Mitchell was a member of the last two Indians World Series appearances prior to the 1990’s. He was one of just five players to play on both the 1948 and 1954 teams, but he wasn’t very successful in either. During the regular season, he did a lot to help the Tribe get to the postseason with a .312 career average and more than 550 runs scored.
4. Joe Vosmik – 1931-1936
Vosmik was one of the most consistant left-fielders in Indians history, taking over for Jamieson after a decade of great play. Vosmik played next to Earl Averill in center for six years, making this one of the best outfields in Indians history.
3. Charlie Jamieson – 1920-1930
Jamieson started two more seasons in left than any other player on this list and thus leads everyone in at bats, runs, doubles and total bases. He ranks as low as he does because he played in more than 500 more games than the two players ahead of him and still trailed in home runs, RBI, slugging percent and OPS.
2. Jeff Heath – 1938-1940, 1942-1943, 1945
Heath immediately preceeded Mitchell as the Indians starting left fielder and outplayed him in every offensive facet of the game despite a shorter career. Mitchell played in 150 more games, but Heath still had more doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, walks and steals. Heath is definitely one of the most underrated players in Indians history.
1. Albert Belle – 1991, 1993-1996
Belle was the most pure power hitter in the history of the Cleveland Indians. His 242 home runs are second all-time to Jim Thome and his .285 Isolated Power is the highest in team history. Belle spent some time as DH, but was a serviceable left fielder during the majority of his time in Cleveland. Despite a short career, Belle not only ranks as number one on this list, but should be considered highly on the list of top ten hitters in Indians history. Belle’s inclusion with Manny Ramirez in right and Kenny Lofton in center makes the Indians outfield from 1994-1996 the best group in Indians history.