Belle, a 2nd round draft selection by the Indians in 1987, was initially called up to Cleveland in 1989. The big man from Shreveport didn’t stick with the Tribe until 1991–the only full season he failed to reach 100 RBI at the Major league level. Although he missed the 100 RBI plateau, he didn’t miss it by much… five more ribbies was all he needed. Belle then kicked off an eight year string of 30 HR and 100 RBI seasons.
Belle’s numbers jumped up in 1992 when he clubbed 34 homeruns and drove in 112 runs for the Tribe. Named to his first All-Star team in 1993, Albert paced the American League in RBI. On a tear during the strike shortened 1994 campaign, Albert was leading the league in total bases when play was halted. At the time of the strike, Albert was leading AL left fielders in homeruns and RBI and was slugging at a monstrous clip of .714.
Named the MVP runner-up in 1995, Belle was a common name at the top of many offensive categories in the junior circuit. The Cleveland slugger paced the league in runs, doubles, homeruns, RBI, slugging average and total bases yet was robbed of the MVP Award when voters gave the hardware to the more likable Mo Vaughn. It should be noted that the only major offensive category that Big Mo outperformed Belle in was stolen bases. MVP or not, Albert saw his first postseason action in ’95 and clubbed a homerun apiece in the Division Series and the ALCS. In the World Series, he blasted a pair of long balls against the Braves but in a losing cause.
An offensive monster again in ’96, Albert led the American League with 148 RBI. He won his fourth straight Silver Slugger Award and paced his left field peers in slugging average, homeruns and RBI. In the Division Series against the Orioles, Belle drove in six runs but in a losing effort. After the season, the Indians let their run producing stud leave via free agency as Belle signed on with the White Sox of Chicago.
In Albert’s first year with the Pale Hose he made his fifth straight All-Star appearance but his peripheral stats suffered from the move. His last three years in Cleveland, his on-base percentages were above .400 but it plummeted to a more earthly .332 in ’97. He rebounded in 1998 to post some of his finest numbers
Belle led the American League in slugging average and total bases in ’98 and pushed his on-base percentage back up to where it had grown accustomed. Belle’s impressive year saw him hit 49 homeruns, drive in 152 runs and tally an even 200 base hits–his lone 200 hit campaign. Albert and Texas Ranger Juan Gonzalez were the only Major Leaguers with 40 doubles and 40 homeruns. Despite his monstrous season, the White Sox allowed Big Man Belle to sign with the Orioles as a free agent after the season.
In his first year in Baltimore, Belle was a member of the American League’s only all-100 run scoring outfield with Brady Anderson and B.J. Surhoff. Belle gave the Birds a power bat by swatting 37 long balls and chasing 117 mates across the dish. In 2000, still producing with the best of them, Belle drove in 103 runs–his ninth straight year of 100 or more RBI. A degenerative hip condition pushed Belle to the sidelines in 2001 and there he remained until he was forced to officially retire after the 2003 season.
G 1,539/R 974/H 1,726/2B 389/3B 21/HR 381/RBI 1,239/BB 683/SO 961/SB 88/BA .295/SA .564/OBP .369