The 1995 Cleveland Indians were an incredible team. They are rightfully famed for their other-worldly offense, but their pitching was excellent as well. As we all know, they fell in the World Series that October, making them arguably the best team ever among those that didn't win the Fall Classic.
It's been 20 years since that team brought the city of Cleveland to its feet and ended decades of frustration. Throughout this anniversary year we'll be celebrating them, as the current version of the Tribe hopefully makes its own run to the American League pennant. Each week I'll look back at one of the key players from that season, counting down to the very best of them.
#19: Mark Clark
Mark Clark was traded to the Indians just before Opening Day in 1993, along with Juan Andujar for slugger Hard Hittin' Mark Whiten. Given that Andujar never made it above Double-A and Whiten went on to be an above average hitter for years, I'm tempted to say the Cardinals got the better of that deal, but Clark put in some solid time with the Tribe. He was the team's third-best starter in 1994, and was in the #2 spot of the rotation when the 1995 season began.
'95 Indians Countdown
'95 Indians Countdown
Clark then had one of the worst first-week-of-the-season performances in franchise history, giving up 9 earned runs while lasting just 1.1 innings. (Only Fausto, in 2011, has ever given up more runs than that in a game during the season's first week.) That game put Clark's ERA at 60.75. Clark struggled for the next month, and at the end of May his ERA stood at 10.65 in 23.2 innings spread over 6 starts. Clark was sent to Triple-A. He was called back up in late June though, and his results from that point til the end of the year were dramatically better.
In his first game back, Clark allowed only 1 run in 8 innings, and from that point on he posted a 4.01 ERA over 16 appearances. In the context of today's game, that ERA doesn't look especially good, but it was well above average in the American League of 1995, when the league-wide ERA was 4.45.
While Clark had pitched well for more than three months, others in the rotation had pitched even better that season, and Clark did not pitch during the postseason. During the offseason he was traded to the Mets for two prospects who played a combined 8 career games for the Tribe. Clark has a couple more seasons as an above-average starter, then declined fairly quickly, and retired following the 2000 season.
Clark isn't a name that jumps to mind right away for most fans when they think of the '95 Indians, if it jumps to mind at all, but for more than half the season he was a key part of the team's excellent rotation.