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Drafting the best Indians players of the decade

As another decade comes to a close, we look back the best way we know how: a draft

The 2010’s are ending tomorrow night, and with it ends a mostly positive decade for the Tribe. They came within an at-bat of reaching the highest high, and early on the decade they suffered through some traumatic lows and far too many Ubaldo Jimenez innings.

To celebrate the weirdness of trying to evaluate a decade’s worth of players, we did it the only way any sports website with a soul should: A good old fashioned draft.

It was a simple snake format draft, with the order chosen randomly (full draft is available here). Let’s Go Tribe writers and editors were tasked with selecting their squad with the intent of it being put to a community vote to determine who had the best team. They were instructed to draft as if it were an attempt to create the most effective team, but of course this is a public vote so there are some fan-service picks.

You, the voter, should be considering who you choose based on a couple simple criteria. Pick the best team. Pick the best by assuming that each player is an amalgamation of their 2010’s performance. Not necessarily just their peak, but consider their efforts as a whole over the decade (not their entire career — sorry, Grady). To be eligible to be selected, players only need one at-bat or inning pitched with the Indians in the decade, but their entire body of work over the past 10 seasons should be considered, whether or not it happened while with the Indians (and it’s noted in the handy dandy graphics).

Vote at the bottom of the post for the best overall team, and check out LGT on Twitter soon after this post goes live for a tournament-style system to determine who has the best team. For additional voting/arguments, feel free to use this template and post your choices in the comments:

Best Overall Team:
Best Lineup:
Best Rotation:
Best Bullpen:
Most Likeable Team:

Now onto the teams, presented in draft order.

By virtue of excellent drafting (i.e., having the first pick due to random chance), my team has more Hall of Fame players than anyone else. Yes, I’m counting Francisco Lindor in addition to Jim Thome. Although neither player is likely to be known for their play in this decade, and Frankie still has to play out his prime (hopefully without a lengthy work stoppage), I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that history will prove me correct. If you don’t buy it, consider this: Lindor has more fWAR through five seasons than Luis Aparicio, Luke Appling, Lou Boudreau, Joe Cronin, Travis Jackson, Derek Jeter*, Barry Larkin, Pee Wee Reese, Phil Rizzuto, Joe Sewell, Ozzie Smith, Alan Trammell, and Robin Yount -- all of whom are Hall-of-Fame shortstops. If he can keep this up, he’s a lock. But enough about why the Indians should pay Lindor already.

(*We can enshrine him already.)

Beyond the elite, my team has several stars, like Shin-Soo Choo and Trevor Bauer, excellent complementary pieces, such as Brad Hand and Juan Uribe, and excellent clubhouse leadership where actual performance comes up short in players like Chris Gimenez and Mike Aviles. Throughout this group there is quality; I’ve already defended Adam Plutko and I’d put Otero in the same group of under-appreciated guys (he’s the 114th most valuable reliever in *all* of MLB this decade). Oh yeah, my team also has two Hall of Fame guys, in case you forgot.

—Chris Davies, Let’s Go Tribe Staff Writer

With the second pick I knew I should get a great player, and none (sans Francisco Lindor) were better than Cleveland Indians legend Josh Donaldson. He may have only played a month and then disappeared in an all-too-brief playoff run, but he still counts and he’s one of the best overall players of the decade.

Following that, I just wanted to have the best something. So I went the shortest route — the bullpen. My team may not be able to hit, can barely pitch, but by golly if it’s a 1-0 game in the 7th inning you are in trouble. I would also propose that I have the best defensive squad with speeders in the outfield, Roberto Pérez behind the plate and Donaldson at third. Just ... don’t look at the middle infield.

—Matt Lyons, Let’s Go Tribe Managing Editor

The backbone of my team is pretty obvious, and one we’ve gotten used to in Cleveland in general: starting pitching. Whether it’s the best Indians pitcher since Sam McDowell or a guy quickly emerging as a top 10 starter (at worst), Kluber and Clevinger as a one-two punch give the Indians a shot in any kind of playoff series, with Aaron Civale’s rookie year giving the Indians fleeting glimpses of what could be the next great Tribe starter. Just imagine if 2018 or ‘19 Clev were in the rotation back in October 2016 instead of Tomlin — that Series wouldn’t have gone seven games. The bullpen is solid if unspectacular, with Vinnie Pestano quietly the best pitcher in the short-lived Bullpen Mafia and both Tony Sipp and Óliver Perez there to kill left-handers, and in Pérez’s case just eat up whoever he faces. He was a starter for a while with the Mets after all, and lethal with the Tribe the last two seasons with a 2.48 ERA and 91 K’s in 73 innings.

Offensively, a core of Brantley, Bruce and I guess Chisenhall (remember, excellent when healthy and turning into a full-time bat his last two years in Cleveland with a 157 wRC+ against lefties) gives three All-Star talents with 40-50 extra base hit talent, augmented by Yandy Díaz and his solid on-base ability and insane line-drive pop. The outfield relies on Michael Bourn to catch balls, but even his presence as an offensive threat and basepath demon gives extra dimension to the Tribe. Oh, and Brad Miller is, by his own admission, one of the “best players”, and did hit 30 homers one year. Admittedly health was an issue for a couple guys here, particularly Chisenhall and Bourn once he came to the Indians, but when healthy both were legitimate players with a multitude of skills to positively impact a team.

The multidimensionality, the solid middle of the order and a not hideous defense back up insane starting pitching, that’s why this team deserves your vote. There’s flaws, but no more or less than any of the other squads here. And none of the other guys have a time traveler from 1953 in Lou Marson or the patented Shelley Duncan Effect. When your eighth man in the batting order can accidentally hit a ball a quarter mile, that’s something to be excited for. The squad may lack the singular top-end offensive talent that others have, but there’s ability sprinkled throughout, and anyway the Indians haven’t really been a “top end offensive talent” kind of team this decade. Pitching is what matters in baseball as Cleveland fans have seen the last few years, especially starters, and this team is second to none.

—Merritt Rohlfing, Let’s Go Tribe Staff Writer

I wanted to try and spread out my picks around the diamond so it wasn’t super heavy in one particular area (pitching, hitting, etc.). Ramirez was an easy pick at No. 4 given how good he’s shown he can be. Napoli at first made made sense after Edwin and Santana were off the board. Between Ramirez, Napoli, Moss, Puig and Swisher, there’s a good amount of power (and a good amount of strikeouts). I’m hoping I can outslug teams since the rotation and bullpen leave a good amount to be desired (I’m not sure Justin Germano is an actual person). My last two picks were Hagadone and Logan; by that point, most everyone was gone and they had decent K/9 rates.

You should vote for this team because a clubhouse of Ramírez, Napoli, Puig, Swisher and Hagadone promises to be entertaining at the very least.

—Tyler Griffith, Let’s Go Tribe Staff Writer

My draft would have been a lot better if not for Alex Hooper swiping a couple of players right before me. Curses, I say.

Drafting these teams made me realize how good we’ve had it as fans since about 2015. Most of the best players available were recent or current players. This meant getting kind of weird with my strategy — I tried to build a team that would have had the best possible 2-3 year peak. This is how you end up with Old Man Johnny Damon at DH, I guess. As it turns out I feel pretty good about the state of the team, especially given how GB-heavy the rotation is. Ain’t nobody hitting balls into the air against those guys.

Also, remember Shaun Marcum? I sure didn’t.

—Matt Schlichting, Let’s Go Tribe Person-Guy

This team lacks the star power of some of the others, but we are solid all the way through. With the No. 2 home run hitter of the decade in Edwin Encarnacion, and one if its most unsung starters in Carlos Carrasco, we can square up with anyone. Rajai Davis and Jason Giambi are ready whenever we need a trajectory-altering dinger, and we have a solid bullpen to shut things down. Finally, the veteran leadership of career-Indians greats like Kerry Wood will keep the clubhouse ready for anything.

—Alex Hooper, Let’s Go Tribe Contributor


Who drafted the best team of the decade?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Team Davies
    (89 votes)
  • 4%
    Team Lyons
    (11 votes)
  • 28%
    Team Rohlfing
    (76 votes)
  • 9%
    Team Griffith
    (25 votes)
  • 7%
    Team Schlicting
    (19 votes)
  • 16%
    Team Hooper
    (45 votes)
265 votes total Vote Now