While compiling these lists, this position was one of two that made my jaw drop. This list is stacked with outstanding seasons, all of them MVP-caliber.
(10) Nap Lajoie, 1908
581 AB, .289/.352/.375, 32 2B, 6 3B, 2 HR
Honors: 8th BA, 10th OBP, 9th SLG, 8th OPS, 1st Games, 4th AB, 7th Runs, 3rd Hits, 4th Total Bases, 4th 2B, 3rd RBI, 4th 1B, 8th Adj OPS+, 4th RC, 5th Extra Base Hits, 4th Times on Base, 7th HBP
While Lajoie's hitting line doesn't seem to impressive by today's standards, in the midst of the Deadball Era they were outstanding. Lajoie was the first superstar of the franchise, and a key in keeping an AL franchise in Cleveland. The team changed its name to the Naps in his honor in 1903.
(9) Bobby Avila, 1954
555 AB, .341/.402/.477, 27 2B, 15 HR
Honors: All-Star, 3rd MVP, 1st BA, 6th OBP, 9th SLG, 5th OPS, 10th AB, 3rd Runs, 3rd Hits, 7th Total Bases, 7th 2B, 8th SB, 4th 1B, 5th Adj OPS+, 4th RC, 6th Times on Base, 4th Power/Speed #, 8th AB/SO
While the 1954 Indians had one of the best rotations in baseball history, they had some good hitting performances as well. Avila, who was one of the first Mexican-born players to make an impact in the majors, won the batting title despite nursing a broken thumb much of the year.
(8) Carlos Baerga, 1993
624 AB, .321/.355/.486, 28 2B, 21 HR
Honors: All-Star, Silver Slugger, 10th MVP, 5th BA, 5th AB, 2nd Hits, 8th Total Bases, 9th 3B, 6th RBI, 3rd 1B, 10th Power/Speed #
1993 marked the second consecutive year Baerga reached the 200-hit plateau; only one Indian has reached that mark since. One of the major reasons Baerga got so many hits was that he almost never walked, a trait that would hurt him down the road. But in the early 90s, Baerga was at the top of his game; he hit above .310 for four consecutive seasons from 1992-1995.
(7) Roberto Alomar, 1999
563 AB, .323/.422/.533, 40 2B, 24 HR, 37 SB
Honors: All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, 3rd MVP, 7th OBP, 5th Games, 1st Runs, 8th 2B, 8th RBI, 6th BB, 4th SB, 5th Times on Base, 3rd Power/Speed #
Since Carlos Baerga's career took a nosedive in 1996, the Indians had gone through a new second baseman a year trying to find a replacement. In 1999, they signed the best second baseman of his era to a five-year contract, and Roberto paid dividends immediately.
(6) Carlos Baerga, 1992
657 AB, .312/.354/.455, 32 2B, 20 HR
Honors: All-Star, 11th MVP, 6th AVG, 2nd Games, 2nd AB, 2nd Hits, 7th Total Bases, 10th RBI, 1st 1B, 9th RC, 10th Times on Base, 4th HBP
Baerga accumulated a ridiculous amount of at-bats in 1992, thanks in part to a low walk rate. But 200 hits is 200 hits. It's really odd how Carlos' career turned out, and even odder that he's still in big leagues 10 years after he flamed out in Cleveland. But for about four years, he was one of the best second basemen in baseball.
(5) Nap Lajoie, 1903
485 AB, .344/.379/.518, 41 2B, 11 3B, 7 HR
Honors: 1st AVG, 3rd OBP, 1st SLG, 1st OPS, 7th Runs, 6th Hits, 4th Total Bases, 2nd 2B, 5th HR, 3rd RBI, 1st Adj OPS+, 4th Extra Base Hits, 2nd Power/Speed#, 6th AB/HR
Lajoie's numbers don't look that great by today's standards, but as you can see by his ranking in various league categories, they were outstanding for his era.
Napoleon Lajoie started his career with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1896, then jumped to the crosstown Athletics for the inaugeral season of the American League in 1901. After the season, the Phillies obtained an injunction barring Lajoie from playing in the state of Pennsylvania. AL President Ban Johnson transfered Lajoie's contract to Cleveland to avoid a lengthy court battle.
(4) Roberto Alomar, 2001
.336/.415/.541, 34 2B, 12 3B, 20 HR, 30 SB
Honors: All-Star, Gold Glove, 4th MVP, 3rd AVG, 4th OBP, 7th OPS, 4th Runs, 6th Hits, 2nd 3B, 6th 1B, 7th Adj OPS+, 5th RC, 5th Times on Base, 9th Power/Speed#
What didn't Roberto do well in 2001? He stole 30 bases in 36 attempts. He won his 10th Gold Glove, placed in the top 10 in OPS, drove in 100 runs, scored 113 runs, slugged 66 extra-base hits, and finished 4th in the MVP race. Alomar's 2001 campaign ranks up there with Albert Belle's 1995 and Manny Ramirez's 1999.
But little did we know that this was Alomar's last good season. And little did we anticipate he'd be playing for the Mets in 2002.
(3) Nap Lajoie, 1906
602 AB, .355/.392/.465, 48 2B, 9 3B, 0 HR
Honors: 2nd AVG, 2nd OBP, 2nd SLG, 2nd OPS, 2nd AB, 7th Runs, 1st Hits, 1st Total Bases, 1st 2B, 2nd RBI, 3rd 1B, 2nd Adj OPS+, 2nd RC, 2nd Extra Base Hits, 3rd Times on Base
Lajoie lost out in many of these categories to George Stone of the St. Louis Browns. 1906 was a comeback year for Nap; he had been injured in a spiking the season before and missed a large part of the season due to blood poisoning.
(2) Nap Lajoie, 1910
591 AB, .384/.445/.514, 51 2B, 7 3B, 4 HR
Honors: 1st AVG, 2nd OBP, 2nd SLG, 2nd OPS, 1st Games, 2nd Runs, 1st Hits, 1st Total Bases, 1st 2B, 6th HR, 5th RBI, 9th BB, 1st 1B, 2nd Adj OPS+, 1st RC, 1st Extra Base Hits, 1st Times on Base
Lajoie had won the league's first four batting titles, but by the end of the decade, Ty Cobb was the dominant hitter in the league. In 1910, the two superstars battled neck and neck for the batting title. Most people in baseball were rooting for Lajoie to win the title over the mercurial Cobb, including St. Louis manager Jack O'Connor, who ordered his third baseman to play deep the final day of the season, allowing Nap to collect seven infield hits over the season-ending doubleheader. Cobb won the title by one-hundreth of a point, but later research revealed that Lajoie should have won the crown.
(1) Nap Lajoie, 1904
.376/.413/.552, 49 2B, 15 3B, 6 HR
Honors: 1st AVG, 1st OBP, 1st SLG, 1st OPS, 4th Runs, 1st Hits, 1st Total Bases, 1st 2B, 4th HR, 1st RBI, 4th 1B, 1st Adjusted OPS+, 1st Extra Base Hits, 4th Power/Speed#, 6th AB/HR
Finishing first in 10 offensive categories is one thing; finishing so far of everyone else is quite another. Lajoie's OPS was 125 points higher than Harry Davis' .840. Davis also finished second in slugging, 62 percentage points behind Lajoie. Only five players batted .300 in 1904; Lajoie hit .376. Nap's 49 doubles was first in the league, 16 ahead of the second-place finisher.
In other words, Lajoie didn't just finish first in a lot of categories; he dominated the categories. His 205(!) OPS+ is a mark that no one else in Cleveland history has come close to. Lajoie's 1904 season is probably the best season in franchise history.