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.
#22: Jim Poole
A 6th inning home run does not have the same gravity as a walk-off blast, and so the home run David Justice hit in Game 6 of the '95 Fall Classic does not have the same level of fame as those hit by Bill Mazeroski or Joe Carter, who hit World Series enders. It provided the only run in a Series-ending game though. Like all home runs, someone had to throw the ball before it could be shot out of the park. In the case of Justice's homer, that someone was Jim Poole.
'95 Indians countdown
'95 Indians countdown
Poole signed with the Indians only a few weeks before the 1995 regular season began, one of a flurry of moves the Tribe made in the final stretch before that season's delayed Opening Day. Poole was often used for more than one inning that season, pitching 2+ innings 12 different times, second only to Julian Tavarez from that season's bullpen. On May 7th he made his longest appearance of the year, throwing the final 4 frames of a 17-inning victory over the Twins, allowing only one hit and extending the game until Kenny Lofton could drive in the game-winner.
Poole had his share of rough outings (as did most pitchers in 1995), but he put together a really strong stretch of work during the regular season's final 50 games, with a 1.72 ERA in 15 appearances. His 3.75 ERA for the season doesn't look good by today's standards, but that season it was good for an ERA+ of 125, and Poole's WPA of 1.17 ranked 4th among all Indians pitchers, including the rotation.
Poole wasn't spectacular, but he was more than solid, often allowing Mike Hargrove to get other guys a night off by coming in and recording more than just two or three outs. It's a shame his last multi-inning appearance of the year is the one most likely to remembered.