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 with an AL Pennant. Throughout this anniversary year we'll be celebrating them, as the current version of the Tribe hopefully makes its own run to the postseason. Each week I'll look back at one of the key players from that season, counting down to the very best of them.
- 25. Wayne Kirby
- 24. Alan Embree
- 23. Albie Lopez
- 22. Jim Poole
- 21. Tony Pena
- 20. Herbert Perry
- 19. Mark Clark
- 18. Paul Assenmacher
- 17. Paul Sorrento
- 16. Eric Plunk
- 15. Ken Hill
#14: Omar Vizquel
Omar Vizquel had already won his first Gold Glove when the Indians traded Felix Fermin and Reggie Jefferson for him prior to the 1994 season, when he again won the fielding hardware, and again didn't hit a lick.
Vizquel got off to an awful start at the plate in 1995. Through the first three weeks of the season he hit just .169/.210/.195. That's brutal production for any spot in the lineup, but especially for a #2 hitter in that era. Not that it hurt the team much, but someone might someday ask manager Mike Hargrove why on earth Vizquel was his #2 hitter for every game he played that year.
After those early struggles though, Vizquel posted a .729 OPS for the remaining four and a half months of the regular season, which still wasn't especially good at that time, offense being what it was, but it wasn't too bad either, especially not for a shortstop who could play some defense. Vizquel was also very dependable, missing only 8 games all season, all of which came on days when the Tribe played a double header. (There were a lot of double headers in 1995, due to the labor stoppage that kept the season from beginning to nearly a month after usual.)
He hit only 6 home runs, but did have 28 doubles, and did steal 29 bases. Despite his modest overall numbers, Vizquel failed to reach base at all in only 23 of the games he started that season, and he had some very big games, including a dozen in which he collected three hits. Among those:
- On May 19, Vizquel's third hit was a game-tying single in the 9th.
- On May 26, Vizquel's three hits included a go-ahead home run off future Cy Young winner Pat Hentgen.
- On July 22, Vizquel's third hit started a 9th inning rally against former Cy Young winner Dennis Eckersley, and Omar came around to score the game-tying run.
- On September 3, Vizquel's third hit drove in the eventual winning run in the top of the 10th inning.
Vizquel scored the Indians' first postseason run in 41 years in the 3rd inning of Game 1 of the ALDS against Boston. He then drove in two runs in Game 2, and two more in Game 3. His offensive numbers for the rest of that postseason were pretty grim, but again, Vizquel wasn't really here for his bat.
Here's a look at some of what made Omar Omar back in 1995:
Now go and find some other Omar highlight reels, and don't forget to share them with the rest of us!