Updated October 2015
The top ten Cleveland Indians third basemen of all time. For more information on any player click on the link on their name for their All-Time Indians Bio. Third has been one of the weakest positions in Indians history, but the list does include the last Indians MVP and quite a few fan favorites.
10. Buddy Bell – Years Starting 3B: 1973-1978
Bell started his career with the Tribe before moving on to better things in Texas, but his time in Cleveland was long enough to allow him to break into this top 10 list. He played in almost 1,000 games in his seven seasons, allowing him to build up some decent numbers, but they really aren’t that impressive when compared to a few other third basemen who had shorter careers.
9. Graig Nettles – 1970-1972
Nettles is mostly famous as the 5 time All-Star, MVP candidate and Gold Glover that played for New York, but before that, he was with Cleveland. Between being traded to the Tribe for Luis Tiant and Stan Williams and being sent to the Yankees, Nettles put up some impressive numbers for the Indians. While he didn’t play long enough to add up a lot of counting stats, he still is among the leaders with a .750 OPS.
8.Larry Gardner – 1919-1922
Gardner was the starting third baseman on Tris Speaker’s 1920 World Series championship team. He didn’t have a particularly long career, but still hit 128 doubles and 36 triples.
7. Bill Bradley – 1901-1910
Bradley was the Indians first third baseman and the only one over the next 100+ years that could be considered speedy. He leads every player on this list in triples and steals. He is still the second longest tenured 3B in Indians history, starting 10 years for the Blues and Naps.
6. Casey Blake – 2003-2004, 2007-2008
Blake was one of the more versatile players in recent Indians history, switching to right field full time in 2005, but moving back to third at the end of his time in Cleveland.
5. Brook Jacoby – 1984-1990, 1992
Jacoby started eight seasons for the Tribe, missing just 1991 when Carlos Baerga was used primarily at third. His consistancy over this long period allowed him to become third all-time in home runs, doubles and RBI among third basemen.
4. Travis Fryman – 1998-2000, 2002
Fryman took over for Matt Williams after they were traded for each other from the expansion Diamondbacks in 1997. Fryman then won a Gold Glove and made the All-Star team in 2000.
3. Toby Harrah – 1979-1983
Harrah was certainly an underrated player during his time with the Tribe. His time at third occured during a particularly down part of Indians history, but he still managed a decent combination of good productivity and longevity.
2. Ken Keltner – 1938-1944, 1946-1949
Keltner was the longest tenured third baseman in Indians history, starting for 11 of his 12 seasons with the team. He was an above average hitter and helped the Indians win their last World Series in 1948 as the starting third baseman. He leads all Indians third basemen in career games, runs scored, hits, doubles and RBI and is second in home runs. In 1950 he was released to make room for #1 on the list.
1. Al Rosen – 1950-1956
Rosen was the Indians last MVP in 1953 and was part of both the 1948 and 1954 Indians World Series teams. He hit more home runs than any other Indians third baseman ever (if you consider Thome a first baseman) and is second in RBI despite playing in 500 less games than the leader (Keltner). His .285 career average is second behind just Gardner while his slugging percent remains number one among third basemen.
Borderline: Max Alvis, Willie Kamm, Matt Williams, Lonnie Chisenhall, Russell Branyan