The Cleveland Indians hitting has struggled as of late. That is no secret.
They have scored just 21 runs in their last eight games, seven of which have been losses. Scoring less than three tallies per night will not translate to a lot of victories in the American League.
However, a look at the AL team batting statistics shows the Tribe ranked fourth in the junior circuit in runs scored, making them one of the more prolific attacks in the league.
Why doesn’t it seem that way?
Certainly, any team that is not hitting looks lethargic and that is playing into the feeling that the Indians need some hitting. The other reason is that there isn’t really one Tribesman having a huge year at the dish.
Jason Kipnis is having a solid season, his best in the major leagues, but his numbers project to this for a full season: .290, 20 HR, and 94 RBIs. Good numbers, but they aren’t big time statistics.
With Mark Reynolds being released (he is still tied for the team lead in home runs), it appears Kipnis will be the only Indians who will hit 20 dingers, and unless someone gets scalding hot, no Cleveland player will knock in 100 runs this season.
The only other regular with an OPS of over 800 is Carlos Santana and right now his numbers projected to .262, 17 HR, and 68 RBI, numbers comparable to last season, which was considered a down year for the switch-hitter.
There is no question Terry Francona has received a huge lift from his bench, particularly from Ryan Raburn and Yan Gomes, who is starting to get more and more playing time.
Raburn has 13 homers and 38 ribbies in a little over 200 plate appearances, but he is succeeding because he has been used on a limited basis. His previous employers tried using him everyday and he has a horrible year.
That’s the reason he is in Cleveland rather than Detroit.
Gomes is just 25 years old and is giving the skipper more and more reasons to put him in the lineup more often.
The catcher acquired in the heist that also brought Mike Aviles in exchange for Esmil Rogers, has 8 home runs and 28 RBIs in less than 200 plate appearances, and he’s hitting for average too at .310 for the season.
And he’s hitting over .300 against both right-handed pitchers and southpaws, which gives Francona more reason to start giving him everyday at bats.
Yes, the Tribe bats have got hot at times and that is a reason they rank 4th in the league in scoring.
They are 6th in the league in home runs, but as noted earlier, they may not have anyone hit more than 20.
They are 5th in the AL in drawing walks, but no one will walk 100 times for the season. The leaders in getting free passes are Santana (60), Kipnis (54), and Nick Swisher (54).
The point is that the Tribe has a very balanced lineup. That works to their advantage at times, but when many guys aren’t hitting, they don’t have that one great bat that can carry them.
Kipnis did it in June when he was red-hot, but no one else has approached that level since.
That’s why the attack is sputtering. If no one gets hot and soon, it will be very difficult for the Indians to reach the post-season this season, and it makes it a necessity to get a big time hitter for next season.