Friday, June 19

The Tribe inside the numbers

Well, it's almost impossible to sit through the Indians' performance on the field, so I say we fire up baseball reference and reduce them to a set of easily-digestible numbers!

My first impression of the Tribe overall is that they should simultaneously be not as good as they are, and also not as bad as they are. For one, their run differential is only -13, corresponding to a Pythagorean W-L record of 33-35 that is quite a bit better than their actual 29-39 mark. Of course, the 22-4 win over the Yankees has a lot to do with that; make that a 6-4 win, and we're probably back pretty close to reality.

Hitting-wise, we find something surprising, at least for those who follow the club day-to-day. It seems that the Indians have an extremely hard time getting runners in from 3rd base, like they're constantly squandering opportunities to score. Yet here they are, 7th in the AL in OPS+ (100), both the very definitions of average, and they've scored the 3rd-most runs in the AL! It seems that the Tribe has indeed been rather opportune with maxing out scoring chances for their actual run output to outstrip their OPS+ rating like this. It should also be mentioned that they rank 4th in the AL in OBP, yet another illustration of the importance of getting on base.

On the pitching side of the ledger, there are no surprises. The Tribe is dead last in ERA+ at 85 (Baltimore is next at 90) and have of course allowed the most runs in the league. Looking for a culprit? Look no farther than the Indians' staff issuing a league-leading 272 free passes, exactly four a game. That's terrible, and serves as yet another commentary on how important simply reaching base is.

A few Tribe batters are enjoying very good seasons, especially Victor Martinez. The guy is simply mashing - .424 OBP, .550 SLG, and a 152 OPS+, good for 7th in the AL - would you believe Ben Zobrist is first? Amazing. Shin-Soo Choo and Mark DeRosa have been strong as well, posting a 127 and 113, respectively. Both have solid power and Choo gets on base at better than .400; Choo is also our best defensive outfielder and DeRosa has 5-position flexibility. On the negative side, Jhonny Peralta seems lost at 75, Ben Francisco has nosedived (nosedove?) to 73, Kelly Shoppach's 85 is mostly from getting hit by pitches, and Grady Sizemore has been a complete nonfactor at 89. Balancing that out has been a few bonus contributions: Travis Hafner posting a .970 OPS in limited action, and Jamey Carroll getting on base at a .388 clip. Wait, how are we 3rd in runs scored again?

For the sake of completion, let's say a few words about the pitchers. Hey, Cliff Lee! Despite allowing the most hits in the AL, he ranks 7th in ERA+ at 157. Now that's how to work out of jams. Maybe he should always pitch from the stretch or pretend ghost men are on base. Zack Greinke still leads the league at 222, down from the superhuman number greater than 500 he had about a month ago. Jered Weaver and Edwin Jackson (both on the FCF fantasy team) are 2-3. So is Felix Hernandez (8th at 155). Why is our fantasy team so lousy again?

Matt Herges is somehow at 167, and a spot starter (Tomo Ohka) and two injured players (Rafael Betancourt and Aaron Laffey) are the only other ones above league average. The rest of our rotation: 79, 61, 69, 88, 64. I can't bring myself to name these men. I hope no young children read that line of numbers. In case you're wondering, Rafael Perez is at 41, which is apparently thus the lowest possible value of ERA+, because there is no way a reliever can be less effective than has Perez been this year. Yuck.

Bottom line: we're going nowhere with this pitching staff.

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