The 1991 season was a real stinker. Though it was the one that saw Mike Hargrove get promoted to manager midseason, it resulted in 105 losses, the most in franchise history (the Cleveland Spiders were technically a different organization so their 130 loss season or whatever it was doesn’t count).
I won’t spend much time on the season other than to say that they started out 21-29, not great but certainly not dreadful, then they went on a 2-13 stretch, and it got worse from there. we’ll leave it at that.
There were, however, a handful of things that happened that helped set the stage for the 90’s teams.
- Plans for Jacobs Field were finalized and they broke ground that winter with Charlie Nagy and Mel Harder throwing ceremonial first pitches to Sandy Alomar at the ground breaking from the spot that would become the pitchers mound, to what would become home plate.
- Albert Belle emerged as one of the brightest young stars in baseball. He posted a .282 average with an astonishing .540 slugging percentage and 28 home runs to go along with 31 doubles. The combination of home run and doubles power would become Albert’s calling card as a player.
- Carlos Baerga and Charlie Nagy established themselves as every day players, and fixtures in the lineup and rotation respectively. Both posting above average seasons for big league regulars
- Jim Thome made his debut. Granted it was only 25 games or so but Thome had made it to the big leagues as a 20 year old despite being a 13th round draft pick after absolutely terrorizing pitchers in the minor leagues in his first two years in the system.
- The Indians claimed Catcher Eddie Taubensee off of waivers, while Taubensee didn’t do much in Cleveland, he was sent to Houston for centerfielder Kenny Lofton who became the engine that made the great offenses of the 90s go while playing dynamite outfield defense and stealing countless bases.
The Taubensee waiver claim is still paying dividends for Cleveland to this day as his trade tree is still active!
Follow along here:
We claimed Taubensee off of waivers
Traded Taubensee for Lofton
Traded Lofton to Atlanta for David Justice and Marquis Grissom
Traded David Justice to New York for Jake Westbrook
Traded Jake Westbrook to St Louis in a 3 team trade that netted us Corey Kluber from San Diego
Traded Corey Kluber to Texas for Emmanuel Clase
With all the rumors surrounding Emmanuel Clase (this is being written on 1/2/24) it’s entirely possible that the Taubensee waiver claim could continue to pay dividends for Cleveland as that’s a hell of a lot of production for just one waiver claim!
1991 was an absolute dud, but there was stuff happening under the surface that would be a sign of things to come. The Indians landed an early draft pick that would turn into pitcher Paul Shuey, who never quite lived up to the hype but is certainly remembered fondly in Cleveland.
As Lou Brown said so eloquently in Major League “Startin’ to come together Pep, startin’ to come together”
Join us tomorrow for the 1992 season as we inch ever closer to some real baseball.