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The Sports Daily > Burning River Baseball
The Top 10 Short Stops in Cleveland Indians History

Updated October 2017

A more than a couple of the greatest Indians of the past 110 years have been shortstops including two of the Indians Hall of Famers. It has also been a very prominent position in recent years, with four players on the list playing in the 1990’s or later. This list also includes some of the longest tenured Indians with four players who played more than 10 years with the team including the player who played more games as an Indian than any other player. Of all offensive positions, shortstop has to be considered the second most storied in Indians history behind just centerfield.

10. Johnny Burnett – Starting Short Stop – 1931-1932

Burnett was the shortest termed short stop on the list, but did play very well during his time with the team. Along with a nice average of .292 and an impressive 272 runs scored, Burnett currently holds the Major League record for hits in a single game with nine. While he wasn’t a true short stop (he played 196 games at second, third and in the outfield as well), he did spend the majority of his time in the middle of the diamond.

9. Francisco Lindor – 2015-Present

Just three seasons into his MLB career, Lindor already compares favorably to many of the players on this list, having a higher slugging percent than any of the power hitters (like Held and Peralta), at least equivalent defensive status of the best defenders (like Vizquel and Boudreau) and speed numbers better than everyone since caught stealing became a stat, considering his limited amount of playing time.

8. Woodie Held – 1959-1962

The next two players were incredibly similar, being the only true power hitting short stops in team history. They also both played positions outside of short as they were below average defenders. Held was a second baseman for a few seasons after he was done at shortstop. He has the strongest dichotomy as a hitter, leading all players in home runs and slugging percent and coming in dead last in average.

7. Jhonny Peralta – 2003, 2005-2008

Peralta was hated during his time with the Indians, mostly because he didn’t “look” like a short stop, but it is impossible to deny that he was the most successful power hitting short stop in team history. He ranks second in home runs and third in slugging, while maintaining an average 15 points higher than Held, the other power shortstop. At the end of Peralta’s career he was moved to third to make room for the next player on the list, but he stayed at short long enough to set the Indians record for most home runs while playing short stop.

6. Asdrubal Cabrera – 2009-2014

While likely the worst defensive short stop on this list, Cabrera instead brought a powerful bat from a usually defense heavy position. A rare combination of speed and power, he was the first short stop in Indians history with at least 50 home runs and 50 steals. In eight seasons, he played in almost 1,000 games for the Tribe, almost all of those at short stop. Among short stops, he ranks third all time in home runs and sixth in average and steals.

5. Julio Franco – 1983-1988

Franco played two stints with the Tribe, but was only a short stop during his first time around. He was actually one of the most well rounded players, coming in fourth among short stops in home runs and steals. He did this despite playing in more than 500 less games than the leaders.

4. Ray Chapman – 1913-1920

Chapman was a great talent who had his career cut short in 1920 when he was struck in the head with a pitch. Before that, Chapman was the Indians first great short stop, stealing 233 bases and scoring 671 times in over 1,000 games played.

3. Omar Vizquel – 1994-2002, 2004

Vizquel is known as the greatest defensive short stop in Indians history (or at least since the development of televised baseball), winning nine straight Gold Gloves starting 1993. Of course, Omar wasn’t just a glove, leading all Indians short stops in steals and runs scored. He also set the postseason records for games played, hits, triples and steals in his six playoff seasons.

2. Lou Boudreau – 1940-1949

Boudreau is almost certainly the most famous player on this list and was the player/manager during the last Indians championship. He is second to Turner in games played at short, but he did have great rate numbers, batting almost .300 and slugging more than .400. He is one of three players on this list with more than 800 runs scored and one of two with at least 700 RBI. He is undoubtedly one of the top ten greatest offensive Indians of all time regardless of position.

1. Joe Sewell – 1921-1928

Boudreau was great, but Sewell was better. His most impressive feat was that he (almost) never struck out. From 1925 through 1933 Sewell lead the league in AB/K. After doing that he still ranks second all time in all of Major League baseball history in this stat. As an Indian he played in less games than Boudreau, but scored more runs, had more hits and stole more bases. He was the only short stop in team history to break 800 runs batted in and still batted .320. Sewell also won a World Series after he took over for Chapman when he was killed in 1920. Sewell was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977 and is unquestionably one of the greatest Indians hitters of all time.

Short Stop G R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS AVG OPS
Joe Sewell 1513 857 1800 375 63 30 869 71 67 .320 .808
Lou Boudreau 1560 823 1706 367 65 63 740 50 50 .296 .789
Omar Vizquel 1478 906 1616 288 39 60 584 279 95 .283 .731
Ray Chapman 1051 671 1053 162 81 17 364 233 0 .278 .709
Julio Franco 1088 619 1272 189 33 62 530 147 71 .297 .752
Asdrubal Cabrera 914 475 933 211 15 82 430 69 26 .270 .746
Jhonny Peralta 923 477 906 201 16 103 456 9 14 .264 .751
Woodie Held 855 372 698 105 16 130 401 10 8 .249 .777
Francisco Lindor 416 248 482 96 11 60 218 46 10 .293 .823
Johnny Burnett 488 271 475 84 14 9 187 14 12 .292 .724

Borderline: Terry TurnerLarry Brown, Bill Knickerbocker, Frank Duffy, George Strickland