|Accolades:||Hall of Fame (1937), Top 20 MVP (1911,1913)|
|Best Season (1904)||140||553||92||208||49||15||5||102||302||27||19||29||.413||.546||.376||.959||.170|
Napoleon Lajoie was one of the most important players in Indians history. After playing six seasons in the National League with Philadelphia, including a 1901 campaign where he lead the league in just about everything, Lajoie became a free agent and was one of the first big name players to jump ship, switching over to the brand new American League in 1902 for a huge salary of about $8,000 a season. This was such a big move by the Cleveland Bronchos that in 1905 they changed the team name to the Naps. The name stayed until he went back to Philadelphia in 1915 and the team name was changed to the Indians.
When he was with the Tribe he was among the best hitters in all of baseball and always hit for a high average. He lead the majors in batting average in 1903 and 1904 and the AL in 1910. In his most successful season (1904) he lead the AL in hits, doubles, RBI, OBP and SLG. He lead the league in hits and doubles again in 1906 and in 1910 as well.
Among the career leaders in just about every statistical category, Lajoie is also seventh all time in all of baseball history with 657 doubles. The odd thing is that he is not even first on the Indians, though since the greatest doubles hitter ever (Tris Speaker) played the majority of his career with the Tribe. Lajoie still leads all Cleveland players ever in at bats and hits during a career and is the only Indian (Nap, Blue, etc) to acrue over 2,000 hits while with the team. He also ranks in the top 5 in games played, doubles, RBI, total bases, steals and batting average and is in the top 10 for runs scored and triples. His total hits (227) and batting average (.384) in 1910 remain in the top 5 single season bests for an Indian.
Lajoie also spent some time managing the team and was an overall success with a .550 winning percentage. During his reign he never finished worse than 6th in the 8 team American League and once brought the Naps to a second place finish, only a half game behind champion Detroit Tigers. Overall he is currently the 8th most winningest manager in Indians history, even though he only ran the team for 5 seasons. His winning percentage is tied for second best all-time with Mike Hargrove, only trailing Hall of Fame manger Al Lopez.
Napoleon Lajoie is in baseball's Hall of Fame as a Cleveland Nap and is a member of the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame (class of 1951). He would most certainly have had his number retired as well, if they had worn numbers back in 1910. He was not only the greatest Indians second baseman of all time, but one of the greatest to ever play the position for any team at any time. Lajoie died in 1959.no comments