The Cleveland Indians are obviously going through a tough time right now.
They have lost 11 of their last 15 games, and the offense has been dormant. No one is hitting consistently except for Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera.
Every once in a while, Baseball Prospectus takes a look at the season in reverse, and how it would change the perception of that team even though the record winds up the same.
With that in mind, if the Indians had started the season losing 11 of 15, and then got hot and were sitting at 34-26 through 60 games, and had a game and a half lead over Detroit, everyone would be ecstatic.
The point is the Tribe is eight games over .500, which no one expected at the beginning of the year, and despite this cold spell, they still do lead the division.
When a team isn’t scoring runs, it’s frustrating to watch because it makes the ballclub look listless. And starting out the season with 30 wins in their first 45 games just makes you want to bang your head into the wall even more.
Once again, they still lead the division!
The losing streak is emphasized even more because the Tigers have gotten hot, winning nine of their last eleven games. Can Detroit keep up that pace?
Maybe, but if they had won just seven of their last eleven, the Indians would have a 3 game lead, and the worry around Cleveland would be lessened.
The point is, the Indians aren’t as bad as they are playing right now, and they aren’t as good as they were the first 45 games of the season.
Detroit probably isn’t as good as they are playing now either.
We will still stay with our original projection that 88 victories will be good enough the win the AL Central. If that’s a good number, then the Tribe needs to go 54-48 the rest of the season to reach that record.
That’s not an outrageous pace.
The promising thing for the Indians is that the starting pitching continues to do well, for the most part.
Against the powerful Rangers’ lineup, the starters entered the seventh inning in the last games having allowed just two runs, and the Twins offense mustered only nine runs in the three game series which just concluded.
If that continues, the Indians will be alright. Good starting pitching keeps you in every game, it gives you a chance to win even if your offense struggles.
On most nights, the Tribe has a chance to win. In fact, the offensive struggles are more frustrating because one big hit could have changed many of the 11 losses which have occurred in the last 15 games.
What is not understandable is the offensive approach during the slump. When you are struggling to score runs, sometimes playing for one run is the best move.
When the Tribe does get a leadoff man on, maybe they should try bunting him over and playing a little National League ball.
Of course, that would also entail moving Asdrubal Cabrera out of the #2 spot because you don’t want him giving himself up.
Based on his production this year, the Indians’ SS should be hitting third or fourth to drive in runs.
How’s this batting order: Brantley LF, Santana C (high OBP), Sizemore CF, A. Cabrera SS, Choo RF, LaPorta 1B, Buck DH, Phelps 2B, Hannahan 3B.
Despite the past couple of weeks, the Cleveland Indians still have a lot going for them. It’s a little easier to produce runs than it is to prevent them.
If there pitching was horrible, you don’t have a chance to compete most nights.