Cleveland Indians All-Time Strikeout Leaders
The Cleveland Indians have a proud history, despite a lull in winning seasons during most of two or three decades (mostly ‘70’s and ‘80’s). The team last won a title in 1948, and over time has fielded some really amazing pitchers. Here is a list of the Top 10 in strikeouts for the Indians’ franchise all-time:
Bob Feller (2581)—Bob Feller played his entire career with the Indians from 1936 to 1956 and still lives there and participates in team activities at the age of 90 as I write this in 2009. Feller is a Hall of Famer who had absolutely powerful stuff, going 266-162 and striking out 2581 batters, which leads the Indians all-time. Feller also won 20 or more games six times, and his best season was 1946—that year, Feller went 26-15 with a career best 2.18 ERA and career high (and league leading) 348 strikeouts.
Sam McDowell (2159)—Sam McDowell played for the Indians most of his career, from 1961 to 1971, and ranks second in the team’s history with 2159 strikeouts. McDowell won 20 games in 1970, but his best overall season was 1965. That year, he went 17-11 with a 2.18 earned run average and career high 325 strikeouts in 273 innings pitched. McDowell led the league in K’s that year, but unfortunately also in walks with 132.
Bob Lemon (1277)—Bob Lemon pitched his whole career in Cleveland, from 1946 to 1958, and he ranks tied for third in strikeouts for the franchise with 1277 (tied with Early Wynn). Lemon had his best overall season in 1950, when he had a career high in strikeouts with 170 (led the league). That year, Lemon also went 23-11 with a 3.84 ERA.
Early Wynn (1277)—Early Wynn pitched in the big leagues for 23 seasons, and most of that was with the Indians, from 1949 to 1957 and again in 1963. Wynn is tied for third in franchise history with Lemon, striking out 1277 batters in an Indians uniform. Wynn had a career high 184 strikeouts (led the league) in 1957, but his best overall season in Cleveland was 1954, when Wynn went 23-11 with a 2.73 earned run average and 155 K’s.
CC Sabathia (1265)—CC Sabathia began his career in Cleveland and pitched there from 2001 to 2008 before being traded to the Brewers and then signing with the Yankees in 2009. Sabathia was another gem from the Indians’ talented farm system, and he ranks fifth in team history with 1265 strikeouts. Sabathia had his best season for the Tribe in 2007, when he went 19-7 with a 2.70 ERA and 209 strikeouts and just 37 walks in 241 innings pitched, good enough to win the AL Cy Young Award.
Charles Nagy (1235)—Charles Nagy spent most of his career with the Indians, from 1990 to 2002, and he was one of the aces of a staff that reached the World Series twice in the ‘90’s. Nagy ranks sixth in franchise history with 1235 strikeouts, and his best season was 1992. That year, Nagy went 17-10 (wins tied career high) with career bests in ERA (2.96) and strikeouts (169).
Mel Harder (1160)—Mel Harder played for the Indians his entire career, from 1928 to 1947, and while he never had more than 102 strikeouts in a single season (set in 1938), Harder ranks seventh in Cleveland history with 1160 K’s over the course of his long career. Harder’s best season was 1935, when he went 22-11 with a 3.29 ERA and 95 strikeouts.
Gary Bell (1104)—Gary Bell pitched most of his career in Cleveland, from 1958 to 1967, and he ranks eighth in the team’s history with 1104 strikeouts. Bell had his best overall season in 1966. That year, despite going just 14-15, Bell had a respectable 3.22 earned run average and struck out a career high 194 batters.
Mike Garcia (1095)—Mike Garcia played for the Indians from 1948 to 1959, and he ranks ninth in franchise history with 1095 strikeouts. Garcia’s best season was 1952, when he went 22-11 with a 2.37 ERA and career high 143 K’s.
Luis Tiant (1041)—Luis Tiant may be best remembered career-wise for his days with the Boston Red Sox, but he began his illustrious career in Cleveland, pitching there from 1964 to 1969. Tiant ranks tenth in Indians’ history with 1041 strikeouts, and his best overall season was in a Cleveland uniform in 1968—that year, Tiant went 21-9 with a remarkable 1.60 ERA (career best and led league) and career high 264 strikeouts in only 258 innings of work.