Hardball Retrospective – What Might Have Been – The “Original” 2003 Indians

In “Hardball Retrospective: Evaluating Scouting and Development Outcomes for the Modern-Era Franchises”, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original team. I calculated revised standings for every season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition.  Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.

Expanding on my research for the book, the following series of articles will reveal the teams with the biggest single-season difference in the WAR and Win Shares for the “Original” vs. “Actual” rosters for every Major League organization. “Hardball Retrospective” is available in digital format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes and KoboBooks. The paperback edition is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and CreateSpace. Supplemental Statistics, Charts and Graphs along with a discussion forum are offered at TuataraSoftware.com.

Don Daglow (Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball, Earl Weaver Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball) contributed the foreword for Hardball Retrospective. The foreword and preview of my book are accessible here.


OWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “original” teams

OWS – Win Shares for players on “original” teams

OPW% – Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the “original” teams

AWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “actual” teams

AWS – Win Shares for players on “actual” teams

APW% – Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the “actual” teams


The 2003 Cleveland Indians 

OWAR: 41.6     OWS: 262     OPW%: .500     (81-81)

AWAR: 26.7      AWS: 204     APW%: .420     (68-94)

WARdiff: 14.9                        WSdiff: 58  

The “Original” 2003 Indians came within one game of the American League Central Division title as the White Sox held off the Tribe and the Twins. Jim Thome launched a League-leading 47 moon-shots and drove in a career-best 131 baserunners. He scored 111 runs, drew 111 bases on balls and earned his highest finish in the MVP balloting (fourth). Manny Ramirez scorched the opposition with a .325 BA, 37 wallops, 104 ribbies, 117 runs scored and a League-best OBP of .427. Richie Sexson (.272/45/124) matched his career-best in home runs and fell one short of his top RBI mark. Brian S. Giles suffered a drop in production from his previous four campaigns but still managed to belt 20 long balls while posting a .299 BA.  “The Mayor” Sean Casey hit at a .291 clip but otherwise failed to deliver the power output expected from a first baseman. The lineup for the “Actual” 2003 Indians featured Milton Bradley (.321/10/56) and rookie outfielder Jody Gerut (.279/22/75).

Omar Vizquel (61st-SS) and Ellis Burks (77th-CF) placed in the top 100 player rankings according to “The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract among members of the “Actuals” roster.

  Original 2003 Indians                               Actual 2003 Indians

Manny Ramirez LF 3.63 26.99 Matt Lawton LF 1.07 9.65
Brian S. Giles CF/LF 5.09 24.55 Milton Bradley CF 4.21 18.53
Dustan Mohr RF 0.52 7.06 Jody Gerut RF 1.98 14.24
Richie Sexson DH/1B 4.13 24.93 Travis Hafner DH 0.8 7.4
Jim Thome 1B 4.56 28.67 Ben Broussard 1B 0.59 8.77
John McDonald 2B -0.43 2.04 Brandon Phillips 2B -1.22 4.28
Jhonny Peralta SS 0.16 4.22 Omar Vizquel SS 0.11 5.25
Russell Branyan 3B 0.44 5.82 Casey Blake 3B 0.51 11.48
Einar Diaz C 0.63 4.75 Josh Bard C 0.81 6.35
Sean Casey 1B -0.27 14.88 Coco Crisp CF -0.17 6.51
David Bell 3B 0.12 4.42 Shane Spencer RF 0.69 4.99
Kelly Stinnett C -0.07 3.49 Ellis Burks DH 0.38 4.76
Victor Martinez C 0.27 3.36 Jhonny Peralta SS 0.16 4.22
Damian Jackson 2B -0.44 1.85 Ryan Ludwick RF 0.56 3.94
Marco Scutaro 2B 0.19 1.81 Victor Martinez C 0.27 3.36
Julius Matos 3B -0.14 0.6 Alex Escobar RF 0.51 3.01
Zach Sorensen 2B -0.28 0.32 Tim Laker C -0.1 2.71
Mike Edwards DH 0.03 0.19 John McDonald 2B -0.43 2.04
Herbert Perry 1B -0.3 0.07 Angel Santos 2B 0.05 1.47
Mark Budzinski CF -0.09 0.03 Chris Magruder LF 0.32 1.42
Mike Glavine 1B -0.09 0.01 Ricky Gutierrez SS -0.08 0.79
Mitch Meluskey -0.04 0 Greg LaRocca 3B 0.06 0.39
Zach Sorensen 2B -0.28 0.32
Bill Selby 3B -0.5 0.3
Karim Garcia RF -0.51 0.22

Bartolo Colon (15-13, 3.87) fashioned a WHIP of 1.198 and topped the American League with 9 complete games. Six-time All-Star lefthander C.C. Sabathia (13-9, 3.60) appeared in his first Mid-Summer Classic. David Riske notched 8 saves and a 0.964 WHIP along with a personal-best 2.29 ERA. Danys Baez (3.81, 25 SV) and Julian Tavarez (3.60, 11 SV) bolstered the relief corps.

  Original 2003 Indians                            Actual 2003 Indians  

Bartolo Colon SP 5.23 17.34 CC Sabathia SP 3.86 12.89
CC Sabathia SP 3.86 12.89 Brian Anderson SP 0.32 6.67
Jason Davis SP 0.07 5.13 Jake Westbrook SP 1.12 5.8
Danny Graves SP -0.4 3.4 Jason Davis SP 0.07 5.13
Jason Stanford SP 1.03 2.85 Billy Traber SP 0.05 2.96
David Riske RP 2.07 9.84 David Riske RP 2.07 9.84
Julian Tavarez RP 0.52 9.19 Danys Baez RP 0.28 8.61
Danys Baez RP 0.28 8.61 Jack Cressend RP 0.95 4.05
Curt Leskanic RP 1.72 8.09 Rafael Betancourt RP 0.86 3.92
Paul Shuey RP 0.55 6.62 Jason Boyd RP 0.18 3.19
Steve Kline RP 0.44 5.05 Jason Stanford SP 1.03 2.85
Alan Embree RP 0.68 4.91 Terry Mulholland RP -0.62 2.71
Mike Matthews RP -0.18 2.91 Cliff Lee SP 0.42 2.69
Jaret Wright RP -1.84 1.31 Jose Santiago RP 0.51 2.28
Travis Driskill RP -0.95 0.64 Dan Miceli RP 0.38 1.54
Charles Nagy RP -0.11 0.17 Carl Sadler RP 0.29 0.92
Brian Tallet SP -0.23 0.14 Ricardo Rodriguez SP -0.62 0.59
Mike Bacsik SP -0.86 0 David Lee RP -0.01 0.51
Ryan Drese SP -0.85 0 Jason Bere SP 0.11 0.32
Tim Drew SW -0.58 0 Brian Tallet SP -0.23 0.14
Alex Herrera RP -0.35 0 Nick Bierbrodt RP -0.19 0
Albie Lopez RP -1.49 0 David Cortes RP -0.32 0
Robert Person RP -0.29 0 Chad Durbin SP -0.57 0
Rudy Seanez RP -0.17 0 Dave Elder RP -0.37 0
Matt White RP -0.93 0 Alex Herrera RP -0.35 0
Aaron Myette RP -0.5 0
Chad Paronto RP -0.44 0
Jason Phillips RP -0.24 0
Jerrod Riggan RP -0.19 0

Notable Transactions

Jim Thome 

October 28, 2002: Granted Free Agency.

December 6, 2002: Signed as a Free Agent with the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Manny Ramirez

October 27, 2000: Granted Free Agency.

December 19, 2000: Signed as a Free Agent with the Boston Red Sox.

Richie Sexson

July 28, 2000: Traded by the Cleveland Indians with a player to be named later, Kane Davis and Paul Rigdon to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jason Bere, Bob Wickman and Steve Woodard. The Cleveland Indians sent Marco Scutaro (August 30, 2000) to the Milwaukee Brewers to complete the trade. 

Brian S. Giles

November 18, 1998: Traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Ricardo Rincon.

Bartolo Colon 

June 27, 2002: Traded by the Cleveland Indians with Tim Drew to the Montreal Expos for Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Lee Stevens. 

Sean Casey 

March 30, 1998: Traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Cincinnati Reds for Dave Burba.

Honorable Mention

The 1941 Cleveland Indians 

OWAR: 43.0     OWS: 267     OPW%: .545     (84-70)

AWAR: 34.9      AWS: 225     APW%: .487     (75-79)

WARdiff: 8.1                        WSdiff: 42  

Engaged in heated combat with the Red Sox and Yankees down the stretch in ’41, the Tribe emerged in third place, four games behind Boston. Thornton Lee (22-11, 2.37) topped the Junior Circuit in ERA, WHIP (1.165) and complete games (30) to merit his lone All-Star invitation. Bob Feller (25-13, 3.15) led the League in victories, starts (40), shutouts (6) and innings pitched (343). “Rapid Robert” paced the AL in strikeouts for the fourth consecutive season and placed third in the MVP voting. Jeff Heath (.340/24/123) established career-highs in base hits (199), triples (20), RBI and stolen bases (18) while making his first All-Star appearance. “Old Reliable” Tommy Henrich clubbed a career-best 31 round-trippers and registered 106 tallies. Ken Keltner rapped 31 doubles, 13 triples and 23 circuit clouts. “Old Shufflefoot” Lou Boudreau socked 45 two-baggers and scored 95 runs.

On Deck

What Might Have Been – The “Original” 2010 Orioles

References and Resources

Baseball America – Executive Database


James, Bill. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York, NY.: The Free Press, 2001. Print.

James, Bill, with Jim Henzler. Win Shares. Morton Grove, Ill.: STATS, 2002. Print.

Retrosheet – Transactions Database

The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at “www.retrosheet.org”.

Seamheads – Baseball Gauge

Sean Lahman Baseball Archive

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Derek Bain is a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games. He has written a number of articles for Fangraphs and Seamheads, and enjoys spending quality time with his family.

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