Lost in the championship fever that has stuck Cleveland and northeast Ohio is the possibility that another of our major league teams can make a post-season appearance.
That would be the Cleveland Indians, who have won six straight overall, 11 consecutive games at Progressive Field, and currently sit three games ahead of the Kansas City Royals in the AL Central Division.
The Tribe is led by their pitching staff, which leads the American League in ERA at 3.57.
Do the Indians have the best pitching in baseball? You can make a case they do.
Cleveland’s ERA would rank 6th in the National League, but you have to take into account that AL teams score more than their Senior Circuit counterparts by an average of .15 runs per contest.
However, you also have to figure in the ball parks that each of the five NL teams play in.
This season, Progressive Field is the second best hitters park in the major leagues, behind only the thin air in Colorado at Coors Field.
So, the Tribe hurlers are compiling that low ERA playing half of their games in the best hitters yard in baseball that rests close to sea level.
The five NL teams with lower team ERA’s are the Cubs, Mets, Dodgers, Nationals, and Giants.
The best offensive yard of those teams is AT & T Park in San Francisco, and it ranks 17th in favoring offense. Remember, there are 30 major league teams, so they are in the bottom half of that category.
Wrigley Field has a reputation as a great hitters’ yard, but the wind must be blowing in so far this season, because it ranks 26th.
Citi Field (Mets) is 18th, Nationals Park is 22nd, and Dodger Stadium is ahead of only Tropicana Field in Tampa in promoting offense.
What would the Indians ERA be if they didn’t play in a hitter’s park? Their ERA on the road this season is 3.47.
That figure is better than San Francisco (3.56) and Los Angeles’ (3.80) figure on the road, and virtually the same as Washington’s (3.46).
This means the Cubs and Mets aren’t just pitching great at home in pitcher friendly stadiums, they are doing it on the road too.
The factor that favors the Indians is that 10 of the parks favoring batters are in the American League, the only “pitchers’ parks” in the Junior Circuit are Tampa, Oakland, Seattle, Houston, and Chicago.
By the way, the only surprise there in US Cellular in the Windy City. The NL shocker is Cincinnati, which we call “Great American Bandbox”.
So, perhaps the Indians don’t have the best pitching staff in the majors, but it’s pretty fair to say they are definitely in the top three.
And that’s with some bullpen issues that raise their heads occasionally. Remember, the Tribe has lost eight games that they were tied or led after six innings, and dropped three others where they tied it up after trailing after six.
If they had won half of those games, the Indians would be 47-24 today, and have a commanding lead in the division.
That’s why we feel the biggest need for this team at the deadline is another arm in the bullpen that Terry Francona trusts.
As Tito often says, when you think you have enough pitching, you go out and get a little more.