The 1995 Indians are the best team that most Tribe fans have seen in their lifetime. After 20 years, some of the particulars of what they accomplished may have faded into the recesses of the memory banks.
The 1995 Cleveland Indians finished with a final record of 100-44, giving them a win percentage of 0.694, second highest in franchise history (with only the 1954 team's 111-43 record, 0.721 winning percentage ahead of them).
They were strong from start to finish as well. Other than April (when only 4 games played due to the strike), they had a 0.667 or better W% in every month. In May they were 19-7, in June 20-8, July 18-9, August 21-9 and September 19-9. They were eerily, super-consistently awesome.
It wasn't due to any exceptionally long winning streaks. The longest win streak was 9 games, while the longest losing streak was just 4 games. They were almost untouchable at home, finishing 54-18, and also very strong on the road (46-26). They were excellent in one-run games (28-14) and even better in blowouts (29-11). In extra-inning games they were a perfect 13-0. Those extra-inning contests included 9 walk-off wins, out of a total of 12 such victories on the year.
Only one team had a winning record against the Tribe that regular season, with the Angels taking three of five from them. They swept the A's 7-0, while dominating the Royals 11-1, Orioles 10-2, Tigers 10-3 and Blue Jays 10-3. They finished 9-4 against both the Twins and Brewers, 6-3 against the Rangers, 8-5 against the White Sox, 5-4 versus the Mariners, 7-6 versus the Red Sox and 6-6 against the Yankees.
The Indians led the league in runs scored with 840 (5.8/game) with the Angels in second at 801. They also led the league with a mind boggling 2407 total bases (16.7/game), with the Red Sox the closest at 2272. That many total bases obviously means they also led the league hits as well (1461), leading to a team batting average of 0.291, with both of the Sox behind them at 0.280.
They only finished third in doubles (279) but were only 7 behind the Red Sox. The Indians were 11th (out of 14) in triples with 23, but did smoke the rest of the competition in home runs with 207. That is almost 1.5 homers per game. The Angels did stay within striking distance at 186. Those homer numbers obviously means the Tribe led the league in slugging too, at 0.839, with the Red Sox a bit back at 0.812. Leading the league in OPS also means they led the league in OPS+ too, 116, with the Red Sox and Angels back at 108.
They were only ninth in walks at 542, but since they were hitting the ball all over the place, they still lead the league in OBP too at 0.361 with the Yankees and Red Sox close behind at 0.357. Leading the league in runs scored also means they led the league in RBI too, 803, meaning only 37 guys scored without being driven in all year.
Heading over to Fangraphs, the Indians were just as dominant in their advanced stats as well. They led the league in wOBA at 0.366 and wRC+ at 115. However, the most impressive stat has to be their offensive component of fWAR. The Indians put up a ludicrous number of 116.2. The White Sox were in second, but had less than half that total at 55.3. Impressive.
That 116.2 in only 21st all-time in American League history, but recall that this was a truncated season of only 144 games. Prorating it to 162 would result in a number of 130.7, which is 13th overall. The original 1995 total is the best in team history, just ahead of the 1999 team.
The forgotten piece of the 1995 squad was the pitching staff. Less regarded because the offense was so awesome, the pitching staff actually led the league in fewest runs allowed as well, with 607, or just 4.22/game. The Orioles were next closest at 4.44. That obviously led to the staff leading the league in ERA as well with a team ERA of 3.83. This, in the steroid era, was very impressive and almost half a run better than the Orioles at 4.31.
The team only had 10 complete games, but manager Mike Hargrove loved to use the bullpen like Francona, but not to quite the same extreme. The staff did throw 10 shutouts, tied with the Orioles and Royals for top honors in the AL. Obviously the 100 wins led the league, by 14 over the Red Sox. That also led to 50 saves, which also led the league.
They threw the most innings in the AL, 1301.0, and had the second fewest hits allowed at 1261, behind the Orioles. The pitchers kept the ball in the park too; just 135 home runs allowed and just eight more than the Red Sox who led the league.
The staff issued the fewest walks, 445, and intentional walks, 16. They were third in strikeouts with 926, but that was way behind the Mariners at 1068. The combination of all of those allowed the staff to lead the league in WHIP, 1.311 and K/BB ratio at 2.08. They even led the league with a 4.16 FIP, just ahead of the 4.22 from the Red Sox.
So yes, the 1995 team was very good... exceptional even. It is a shame they lost to the Braves in the World Series that year, otherwise they would be remembered by baseball fans as one of the greatest teams in history.
Coming next week:
I will begin recapping the season with a look at the start of that season, as we begin our journey through the schedule. Each week I will also be profiling some of the positions and split numbers.