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1968 Cleveland Indians

From BR Bullpen


1968 Cleveland Indians / Franchise: Cleveland Guardians / BR Team Page[edit]

Record: 86-75, Finished 3rd in American League (1968 AL)

Managed by Alvin Dark

Coaches: Clay Bryant, Johnny Lipon, Jack Sanford and George Strickland

Ballpark: Cleveland Stadium

History, Comments, Contributions[edit]

The 1968 Cleveland Indians did well to finish in third place with a record of 86-75, as they barely scored more runs than they gave up, with 516 runs scored and 504 given up.

Some credit for that finish may be due to new manager Alvin Dark, who had previously managed six years in the majors, finishing first with the San Francisco Giants in 1962 and last with the Kansas City Athletics in 1967. Dark would go on to manage Cleveland for three more years.

The Indians were never in first place but after a .690 May were in second place by early June and spent most of July there before dropping into fourth place in early August and staying there for much of the rest of the season.

It was the heart of the second dead-ball era and the team hit .234 with a slugging percentage of .327. The team batting average was above the American League average of .230, but the SLG was below the league SLG of .339.

The batting leaders on the team were Lee Maye at .281 (299 at-bats), Russ Snyder also at .281 (217 at-bats), and Joe Azcue at .280 (357 at-bats). Jose Cardenal, who was the only player on the team with 500+ at-bats, led the team with 40 steals, 7 triples, 150 hits and 78 runs scored.

Power was provided by Tony Horton with 14 homers and 29 doubles, both leading the team, as well as Duke Sims with 11 homers. Horton's 59 RBI were enough to lead the team. The team total of 75 home runs was the second-lowest in the league ahead of the Chicago White Sox who had 71. Sims, who had only 361 at-bats, nevertheless led the team with 62 walks, far ahead of shortstop Larry Brown who had 43 with 495 at-bats.

Among the oldest position players on the team was Leon Wagner while among the youngest was Ray Fosse.

The pitching in the second dead-ball era featured ERA's that seem incredibly low.In fact, the team ERA of 2.66 was tied for best in the league with the [1968 Orioles|Baltimore Orioles]].

Luis Tiant was the star with a record of 21-9 and an ERA of 1.60, which led the league. Sam McDowell was second in the league in ERA with a 1.81, and he posted a record of 15-14. McDowell led the league in strikeouts while Tiant was third. Sam and Luis both struck out over a batter per inning for the second time. They are the only starting duo in AL history to do that twice (the other time was in 1967, when the Indians set a league record for strikeouts).

Stan Williams at age 31 had 13 victories with a 2.50 ERA and Sonny Siebert, also 31, had 12 victories with a 2.97 ERA. Steve Hargan had 8 victories after winning 14 the previous season for a below-.500 Indians team.

The relievers with the most appearances were Vicente Romo, fourth in the league with 12 saves and posting a 1.62 ERA, and 31-year-old Eddie Fisher who led the team with 54 appearances and who had a 2.85 ERA.

The Indians had not finished as high as third since 1959 (under Joe Gordon) and would not do so again until 1994 (under Mike Hargrove).

Awards and Honors[edit]


American League W L Pct. GB
Detroit Tigers 103 59 .636 --
Baltimore Orioles 91 71 .562 12
Cleveland Indians 86 75 .534 16.5
Boston Red Sox 86 76 .531 17
New York Yankees 83 79 .512 20
Oakland Athletics 82 80 .506 21
Minnesota Twins 79 83 .488 24
California Angels 67 95 .414 36
Chicago White Sox 67 95 .414 36
Washington Senators 65 96 .404 37.5

Further Reading[edit]

  • Thomas A. Tomsick: Strike Three! My Years in the 'Pen, Cincinnati Book Publishers, Cincinnati, OH, 2010.