It has been a dull award season to this point for the Cleveland Indians. No one hit well enough to win a Silver Slugger, no one pitched well enough to be considered for Cy Young, and no one had the fielding chops to be named a Gold Glove winner. Our only hope in terms of having something to celebrate in November this year is one rookie by the name of Francisco Lindor.
You probably already know everything there is to know about Lindor’s American League Rookie of the Year chances (and if you do not, be sure to check out our new Story Stream showing literally everything we wrote about Lindor this year). That is not what this post is about, however. Instead, let’s look at the kind of company Francisco will be holding in being named a Cleveland Indians Rookie of the Year if it comes to that.
Herb Score, 1955
The first Indians player to win the award, Herb Score, is also the most tragic. Score had a fantastic rookie campaign in 1955, starting 32 games, striking out 25% of the batters he faced and finishing the year with a 2.85 earned run average. The next season he was even better, dropping his ERA to 2.53 and increasing his 1955 4.4 fWAR to an MVP-caliber 6.8. But in 1957, his career (and more importantly his life) completely changed.
On May 7, 1957, Score was pitching in Cleveland Municipal stadium when a line drive hit by Gil McDougald came right back to the mound, striking Score in the face. Five games into the 1957 season, Score was looking to be even better than previous years, with a 2.00 ERA under his belt and already amassing 1.0 fWAR. However, the line drive shot to the head permanently blurred his vision, and he was never the same pitcher. He remained on the Indians until 1959, then played three seasons with the Chicago White Sox before retiring in 1962. Herb score passed away in 2008.
Chris Chambliss, 1971
The Rookie of the Year in 1971 went to another Indians player, 1970 first-overall draft pick Chris Chambliss. The Tribe first baseman was only 6th in fWAR among American League Rookies, but he lead in home runs with nine. He was also second in wRC+ (111) behind only New York Yankees rookie Ron Blomberg (140).
Chambliss played in 17 Major League seasons, but only three-and-a-half with the Indians. The majority of his time was split between the Yankees and the Atlanta Braves. After being away from baseball for the entirety of 1987, Chambliss returned for a single at-bat with the Yankees, where he struck out.
Joe Charboneau, 1980
Joe Charboneau had the shortest overall career of any Cleveland Indians Rookie of the Year winner. Known for his eccentric behavior and tendency to dye his hair strange colors as much as his play on the field, Charboneau won the Rookie of the Year award in 1980, hitting 23 home runs and getting on base at a .358 clip. Charboneau looked like a surefire All-Star after his first season, but injuries got the better of him in only his second season in 1981. He would play only 22 games in 1982 before retiring at the age of 27.
Whenever you hear someone refer to a "Sophomore slump," you can think of Charboneau hitting with a .210/.247/.362 slash in 1981.
Sandy Alomar Jr., 1990
Although he played eight games with the San Diego Padres prior to 1990, Sandy Alomar Jr. got his first real taste of consistent playing time with the Indians in his Rookie of the Year-winning season. The legendary Tribe catcher finished the season with a 105 wRC+ and solid defense behind the plate.
Sandy would play for 17 more seasons in the Majors (11 with the Indians), before retiring in 2007 after eight at-bats with the New York Mets. He was a huge part of the exciting Indians teams of the late-90s, peaking with a 4.2 fWAR season in the Tribe’s 1997 World Series season. Sandy Alomar will never get into the Hall of Fame, but he always remains a fan favorite.
Sandy now works as the Cleveland Indians first base coach and will hopefully never leave to coach the White Sox anytime soon.
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We will find out if Lindor joins this list when Major League Baseball announces the Rookie of the Year winners at 6 p.m. EST on MLB Network.