Yesterday, we took a look at five of the greatest Cleveland players of the nineties, but that era was far from their only successful one. For well over a hundred years, they have been a mainstay of the American League, and our Cleveland Legends insert set in the new 2019 Series 2 expansion set spans nearly a century of Tribe history. Today we’ll work our way back to the very beginning, but we’re going to start with someone that had a much more recent brush with greatness…
With Cleveland since his 2002 debut, Cliff Lee spent 2007 mired in failure, including a game where we he gave up 7 runs in 4 innings and left the field to a booing crowd before being optioned to Triple-A the next day. Whether it was a wake-up call or the fuel needed to prove people wrong, in 2008 Cliff Lee transcended into an elite talent. He won 22 games, struck out 170 batters, finished with a 2.54 ERA, and was rewarded with the AL Cy Young away for his effort. He may have taken that momentum with him when he left in free agency, but his greatest season was spent with the Tribe, and it’s the season chosen for this Cleveland Legends card. Use his 5 Command, 3 icons, and great pitching chart for 7 innings per game to help recreate that magical season in Clutch Baseball.
We’ve seen plenty of modern superstars in this set, but now it’s time to take things back a bit further, to the middle of the 20th century. Al Rosen spent ten years in the majors, all of them with Cleveland, and during that span he made four All-Star appearances, led the league in home runs and RBIs twice each, won the AL MVP award, and won a World Series! In 1953, Rosen led the league in home runs and RBIs and fell just a single percentage point shy of leading the league in batting average (and winning the triple crown), but it was still enough to be unanimously named the AL MVP. That season is what gives us this new Clutch card, a monster on offense with high On-Base, just 3 outs, a great chart, and Speed and Defense total that make him effective without being overpriced.
Do you hate the lefty shift? Well, you can thank Lou, who first employed the “Boudreau Shift” against Ted Williams in 1946. But beyond that, he was an incredible player who went on to spend 15 seasons in the majors, 18 seasons as a manager, and 10 of those seasons as a player-manager. The man was non-stop! In 1948, Lou Boudreau did something we don’t usually see: he won the AL MVP award despite not finishing in the top 3 in the league in home runs, runs, RBIs, or stolen bases. Without those icons raising the salary cost, his new Clutch card provides a relatively affordable 15 On-Base that comes with a 3-out chart and positive Clutch. Pack 2 copies of the Lefty Shift strategy card for the truly authentic experience!
Prior to now, the oldest season represented in Clutch Baseball was 2018’s Walter Johnson (1924), but when you make such a difference to your team that they rename the team after you, well, you get included in the set. After jumping to the Cleveland franchise in the fledgling American League, Lajoie made such an immediate impact that the following season, they renamed the team the Cleveland Naps (short for Napoleons, just like his name) in his honor. He spent the next decade on a non-stop offensive tear with the team, batting below .300 just twice in twelve years. In 1910, the season selected for this Clutch card, he led the AL in hits (227), doubles (51), batting average (.383), and total bases (304). Those, along with his .444 on-base percentage, help bring us this batter card with 14-to-15 On-Base, solid Speed and Defense, and a chart that has not only an 8+ single roll, but just two outs. He joins a very short list of elite players to have just 2 outs, including names like Ichiro, Tony Gwynn, and Ted Williams. In fact, that’s the best it gets, because no one in Clutch Baseball has ever had a batter’s chart with just a single out on it. Well, until now that is…
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson
Shoeless Joe may be remembered for his black mark on baseball history with the “Black Sox,” but the entire basis of that controversy was that with a player like Joe Jackson, how could they ever lose? Well, he got that reputation by hitting and hitting and hitting in Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Chicago for the extent of his 12-year career. His career .356 batting average is, to this day, the third-highest in major league history. With Cleveland in 1912, he racked up 226 hits and 121 runs, led the league with 26 triples, and put up a .395/.458/.579 slash line. Thanks to that, this 20-Speed, +1 Clutch, 14-to-15 On-Base outfielder gets a card that not only is the first to feature 3 triple rolls, it gives us the first batter in Clutch history to have just one out on their chart. Shoeless Joe not only represents history in Clutch Baseball this season, he becomes history in Clutch Baseball.
Come back tomorrow where we’ll take a look at the five the five Pre-Order bonus cards available exclusively when you pre-order the 2019 Series 2 expansion set THIS SUNDAY! Stay tuned to Clutch Baseball on social media today for video previews of each player as well as an exclusive look at another stadium card inspired by Cleveland.
2019 Series 2 inserts will be randomly distributed throughout Series 2 booster packs. Pre-Orders begin Sunday, 6/16 at 6:16 PM EST. For more details, check out the Series 2 preview here.