The Cleveland Indians’ hitters are in a slump. They have scored just 27 runs in the 11 games since the calendar turned to May.
That’s an average of less than three runs per contest, and it is very difficult to win baseball games scoring at a rate of 2.4 tallies a night.
It gets a little worse when you realize 13 of those runs were scored in two games last week in Toronto.
In the other nine games in May, Cleveland has put just 14 runs on the board, which translates to less than two runs per contest.
Now, this is not to say we think the Tribe should be buried, or they are in trouble, which some on social media suggested yesterday, but there is no reason to not be concerned about the ability to score runs consistently for the 2017 edition of the Cleveland Indians.
Terry Francona’s crew has scored three runs or less in 20 of the 35 games the team has played to date. That’s 57%. Last year, the Indians scored three or less in 62 of the 161 games played, which comes to just 39%.
We know some are quick to blame Edwin Encarnacion, who is off to a slow start, but the front office made the correct move replacing Mike Napoli, who by the way is hitting under .200 with Texas.
And some Indians are actually having strong starts to 2017. Michael Brantley (843 OPS), Francisco Lindor (868) and Jose Ramirez (841) are all very productive.
Unfortunately, Cleveland is getting very little out of 2B, where Jason Kipnis has struggled mightily coming back from a shoulder problem in spring training, and in RF, where the platoon (it really isn’t we know) of Abraham Almonte and Brandon Guyer has not given the Tribe any offense.
We certainly aren’t giving up on Kipnis, a two time all star, and one of the Indians’ best hitters a year ago, but it does seem a little odd that Francona is hitting him in the middle of the lineup, moving him from 6th to 5th (or even 3rd) in the last few days.
Several people have mentioned the absence of Rajai Davis, and again, we understand and support Chris Antonetti’s and Mike Chernoff’s thought process in not bringing him back, the base stealing he provided has disappeared.
Cleveland led the AL in stolen bases a year ago, but currently rank 12th in the American League. Besides Davis, Lindor, Ramirez, and Kipnis all stole in double digits a year ago, and Almonte was 8 for 8.
This year, the team leader through 35 games is Michael Brantley with three, while Ramirez and Carlos Santana have two.
The Indians have become a station to station baseball team. They need to get some of that aggressive on the base paths back.
It might be time to shake up the batting order a bit in an effort to get guys going. We understand that Francona doesn’t make rash decisions, but it could be a temporary thing too.
Perhaps put Ramirez and his .356 on base percentage at the top of the order, with Brantley (.362 OBP) in the #2 hole.
Maybe something like this–
Kipnis (at least temporarily)
Or maybe it’s time to bring up Bradley Zimmer? If Yandy Diaz isn’t going to play everyday, send him back to AAA.
The Indians have too many solid hitters to be struggling this bad. They shouldn’t be having to scratch out 1 or 2 runs a night on a regular basis.
It is still early, but we are coming up on the quarter pole of the season. It’s not going to be early much longer.