Wednesday, August 6

I have no data to confirm this

I've noticed something that I believe to be a major difference between the division champion 2007 Indians and the floundering 2008 Tribe, other than the latter having generally worse players and losing way, way more games.

Many writers have correctly pointed to a less-efficient offense, the loss of key starting pitching, and a horrible bullpen as reasons for the club's struggles this year. I agree with these assessments. More specifically, related to that first point, it seems to me that we absolutely suck at getting men home from scoring position in scenarios where a hit isn't even required.

As my post title disclaimer makes clear, I don't have numbers to support this musing - it will simply have to remain anecdotal. But contrasted with last year's team (and the teams that beat us this year) I can't shake the feeling that the club is seriously underperforming in prime run-scoring situations like leadoff man on 2nd base, 1st and 3rd with no outs, 3rd base with 1 out, or bases fucking loaded with NOBODY OUT against the fucking Tigers IN THE 12TH INNING, for example. Last night's loss to Tampa Bay followed this script, as the Tribe routinely got the leadoff man aboard and failed to bring him around. The key to the game was the 1st-and-3rd-no-out opportunity in the 7th inning with the Tribe down 4-3, courtesy of Kelly Shoppach's walk and Jhonny Peralta's opposite-field single. As is all-too-customary, the Tribe squandered this golden chance, as Shin-Soo Choo K'd, Ryan Garko popped out, and Ben Francisco smashed a drive that was barely caught a foot from the fence. I don't fault Francisco for squaring one up like that, and my message here isn't about 2-out hitting - it's the other guys who blew that chance.

Sure, the Tribe ended up losing by 4, but had they tied or taken the lead in that spot we might have seen a different game. According to my memory, we often DID see a different game a year ago, though some of that was certainly thanks to our excellent relief corps.

Now, I'm definitely not suggesting that the Tribe try more out-wasting bunts, hits-and-runs, squeeze plays, and things like that to try to "manufacture" runs or "push" them across. I feel sticky just typing that. Nor am I intending to make some sort of old-guy "these kids today have no fundamentals" rant. I just expect these guys to be better in these situations - this offense is not going to be prolific and the only way to start winning more games is to max out these situations with better at-bats in key situations.

1 comment:

Ernest said...

Andy, your comments ring especially, painfully true when I think about their absurdly clutch hitting against the YankMees in last year's ALDS. Those days of driving in run after run with 2 outs and RISP seem really, really, really far away.