It wasn’t that long ago that the Cleveland Indians sat on top of the baseball world with a 30-15 record.
It was May 23rd following a 3-2 win over the Red Sox on Asdrubal Cabrera’s go ahead two run double in the eighth inning. It was the Tribe’s fourth straight win.
Since then, it has been straight down like an elevator that has had its cable’s cut. The Tribe is 4-14 since that victory and now shares the AL Central lead with the Tigers, who they had a seven game lead on at that time.
Now that’s a sharp change in direction.
Manny Acta has tried several different things in lineup changes, moving Carlos Santana and Shin-Soo Choo down in the order and then back up. He’s hit Grady Sizemore fifth or sixth in the batting order, and now has him hitting third. Acta has promised that more changes are coming.
The front office even called up Cord Phelps, who has started his big league career off by going 1 for 11 in his first three games.
Nothing has been able to shake the Indians out of this funk.
Yet, they are still tied for first in the division, so GM Chris Antonetti owes it to his players to keep trying to improve the roster because they still have a chance to make a run at the post-season.
The average American League player right now has an OPS of 718. The current Tribe roster has four players who have number 100 points less than that figure: Orlando Cabrera (575), Lou Marson (564), Austin Kearns (561), and Adam Everett (549).
What this means for Acta is that we really doesn’t have any options to sit guys who are slumping, like Choo and Santana. Both of those guys have OPS over 100 points higher than the players who would replace them, namely Kearns and Marson.
Honestly, Marson isn’t known for his bat and is an excellent defensive catcher, so his lack of production can be dismissed.
One of the problems with the offense has gone under the radar is the way the number of walks the team has drawn has diminished as of late. The Indians were once in the middle of the pack in drawing bases on balls, but entered today’s game against the Yankees 11th in the AL.
That’s third from the bottom everybody, ahead of only Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Minnesota. All three of those teams rank below the league average in runs scored.
Cabrera is the worst offender drawing just six walks in 222 plate appearances on the year, but other Indians aren’t contributing to the cause either.
Grady Sizemore has just nine free passes in 143 PA’s, although he drew two today. In fact, he’s walked four times in the Yankee series, which means he had just five walks on the season.
Choo’s walked just 12 times since May 1st. He had 83 free rides last season in total.
If you are not hitting, you have to contribute something offensively, which you can do by working the pitchers and walking. Jack Hannahan is not on this list because he’s worked 23 BB’s, ranking 3rd on the team behind Santana and Michael Brantley.
Another problem is the approach of the left-handed hitters of trying to pull everything. That usually results in groundout to second or first. How many of those have we seen lately?
Outside of Hannahan’s double on Saturday, it is tough to recall a hit to LF by a left-handed hitter.
A change in both of these areas would help the offense generate more runs.
No team can expect its pitchers to throw a shutout every night. In the last ten games for the Cleveland Indians, that’s the only way they picked up a victory.