They always say that baseball is one of the most team-oriented sports that exists. Since players are so specialized, especially with pitching, there is no way that a good team can be good because of one person alone. Granted, there is always going to be those couple players that make the team shine like the Ortiz-s or the Sabathia-s, however there are a lot of people that never get any credit at all. Just think about it, can you name EVERY player that played for the Red Sox when they won the World Series last year? I mean ALL of them? The answer is probably no. So let’s take a moment, and think about that. Here are, to me, the most underrated Indians players of the modern era.
5. Aaron Fultz – Pitcher
I know what you’re thinking and I can already feel the judgement, but let’s be honest, for the one season we had him on the main roster, he really was pretty good! First off, he was with us that classic year of 2007, which should instantly put some noteritey on this guy. He was usually pretty quiet however. He ended the season with a 4-3 record, however he ended with an ERA of 2.92…yes 2.92! A lot of people gave him flack saying his arm would never hold up to the test of time, and while he never really had the star studded career he did with the Giants, he surely was worth what what we paid him. Honestly, I think if we used him a little more that season the results might have been a little different. While he did give up 31 hits, he was pretty reliable for what he was worth.
Sadly, the 2007 season with the Indians was his last. After this season he tried to look elsewhere for a home, but never quite found one. He hasn’t been heard from since, and is probably just at home polishing that chiseled face of his.
4. David Dellucci – Outfielder
Hailing from Louisiana, David Dellucci is one of the most underrated outfielders that has probably ever played for the Indians. Shadowed by the big headed players of the late 2000’s like Grady Sizemore, a lot of people forget just about how amazing of a fielder he actually was, let alone his reliable hitting.
For all three seasons with the Indians, he had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage recording 2,400 outs his first two seasons! He was an animal and, quite literally, never let anything by him. The only fault that was accredited him was the fact that he was only 5’10”, a stature that is very rare with outfielders. However, even though this never affected his game, he was forever shadowed by the other “greats” of the 2007-09 seasons, even with his batting average of almost .275 for three straight years. He wasn’t the guy you’d call up for the grand slam, but he sure got on base if you wanted him to. Sadly, the horrible cloud of steroid use started to float above his head as well, and he could never quite recover.
After he was cut halfway through the 2009 season, he headed over to Toronto for the rest of his career, where he began to fall off. After that season he was cut, and hasn’t returned to baseball since.
3. Paul Byrd – Pitcher
Out of everyone on this list, Paul Byrd is the only one that really got any sort of recognition, and while he still might ring in peoples minds, he sadly never got credit for the things he accomplished.
While he had an average ERA riding around 5 or 6 the three seasons he was in Cleveland, in 2007, the year that mattered, he went 15-8, and scored one of the best records for a pitcher that season. His wind up and throw was oddly equal to his name with that funky thing he would do with his arms, but hey, it worked. Unfortunately, he also fell under greats that he just would never be able to pass up, and while he was never a hall of fame pitcher for the club, he was a key reason we got as far was we did in 2007. Something that rarely is ever attached to his name.
Oddly enough, the following season he rubbed salt in Cleveland’s wounds and headed to Boston to finish up his career. However, he became nothing more then a back up there, and faded away into the dark.
2. Matt Laporta – Infield/Outfield
“LaPorta-Potty? Really?” Okay I get it, he has a HORRIBLE connotation with the Cleveland fans, but if you look past all of the artificial things we hate about him, he actually was a very essential part to the team! For one thing, he never played for any other team, and was with us his entire career…even though that was only 4 seasons.
One thing that people seem to forget about is the fact that his was essentially impossible to hit past, seriously, this guy was like a vacuum. In 2010 and 2011 he had 2,400 outs each, and when he played first base…forget it, you were done. It was like he had the reach of Mr. Fantastic. However this always seems to get past fans who remember him playing, and they can only seem him as the…odd…guy he really was. He won games for us though in the long run, which is all that should matter.
He had a moderate swing, and almost led the team in homeruns for two seasons, though that also never helped his case for some reason, and he was always the butt of peoples jokes. Don’t worry Matt, I think you’re cool.
1. Lou Marson – Catcher
Last, but not least, the guy we love, the guy we hate, and honestly… the guy no one ever remembers. He has to claim the number one spot simply for how weird of a player he really was, and while he wasn’t the gold gem we thought he was going to be, he was still pretty good.
However let’s get this out of the way by admitting his batting was HORRIBLE…seriously, he couldn’t hit a beach-ball. Though when you think about it, there are a lot of our more well known players that couldn’t hit anything…I’m looking at you Hafner.
Anyways, putting that aside let’s look at his catching skills. I honestly think even now he might be one of the best catchers in the AL. For two seasons, he had MORE outs then some infielders! What is that! Plus, the pitchers loved him. His calls were clear and he always knew how to trick a batter and jam him up. So why did we hate him so much? Why don’t people remember him? The truth of it is, he wasn’t a good hitter. Let’s be honest, if a player doesn’t hit well, or make amazing dive catches, the audience doesn’t really notice. They never notice how great a player can be behind the scenes until he is gone…case and point.
Sadly his last season here in CLE was plagued by injuries, and he took a long time to recover. This sent him back to the minors, and out of the light completely. And when he was ready to come back, we just kind of pushed him away back to Philly.
Without a doubt, Lou is one of the greatest underrated players we have ever had, which is sad. He was a truly cool dude and needed some more time here, but unfortunately the organization never thought the same.
So next time you’re looking at the Indians rosters, remember these guys and what they did for us. While they might not be a household name, they were still Indians.