Thursday, September 29

Tribe Season Wrap Part 1: Inside the numbers

The first of my two-part series wrapping up the Cleveland Indians' 2011, campaign, during which they went 81-81 and finished in second place in the AL Central, this article will look into the season statistics of the Wahoos. We'll take a look at who starred for the Indians, who surprised and who disappointed, and what the team might look like in 2012.

Before we get to individual numbers, let's have a few team stats to get the ball rolling. The Indians finished 80-82, good enough for second place in the AL Central behind Detroit (by 15 games, yikes). They posted an OPS+ of 99 for the season and an ERA+ of 94; for all the credit the pitching (and especially the bullpen) got, they were actually outperformed by the Wahoo batters. They plated 4.35 a game (8th in AL, league average 4.47) and gave up 4.69 a contest (10th AL, league average 4.43). In short, they pretty much deserved to end up where they did, far cry as it was from their dynamite 30-15 start.

It's just a shame we had to play Texas and Detroit. After starting the year 6-2 against the Tigers, Cleveland lost 10 straight down the stretch to them, accounting for most of Detroit's margin of victory in the divisional race. A stretch like that is just another year at the office against the Rangers, against whom Cleveland posted a sparkling 1-9 mark (an average Texas-Cleveland game this year was a 7-3 Ranger win). Last year: 2-4. 2009: 1-8. This is starting to get ridiculous, so let's move on to individual players.

The three best players on the team were clearly catcher/first baseman Carlos Santana (OPS+ 124), shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (OPS+ 120), and starting pitcher Justin Masterson (ERA+ 124). If you like WAR (and I do, and actually hadn't checked it before starting this sentence), we see the top three Tribesmen as:

Santana 3.8
A. Cabrera 3.8
Masterson 4.0

Well there you have it. No one else finished above 2.3; by any legitimate measure these three were clearly the top contributors to the club, and I would be fine with any of the three as team MVP. I'm not in that camp that automatically DQ's pitchers for MVP awards (two idiots left Pedro Martinez out of their entire Top 10 in the AL MVP balloting in 1999 even though he led the AL in WAR) if they're the club's top performer. In this case, though, I'm picking Asdrubal, who put up the best raw numbers on the club (including breaking the team record for home runs by an SS) while playing over 150 games at one of the two toughest positions in baseball (Santana manned the other, but spent over 60 games at more relaxed first base and lacks Cabrera's prowess in the field) and serving as the team's de facto on-field leader. What a terrific season.

In the pleasant surprises department we have Michael Brantley (2.2, probably would have been much higher had he not played through a bad wrist for so long), Jack Hannahan (2.1 including some of the best glovework we've ever seen at 3B), Vinnie Pestano (2.3), Joe Smith (2.2), Jason Kipnis (1.1 in limited time with the Tribe), and Josh Tomlin (1.8).

In the disappointment column we have Hafner (a decent 1.3, but at $13 million a season this guy just has to stay healthy), Grady Sizemore (0.5, same comment as Hafner for a bit less cash), Fausto Carmona (-1.5, without a doubt the team's LVP), Shin-Soo Choo (1.3, down from stellar 6.2 and 6.5 in the previous two seasons).

I wanted to say that in the category of completely validating the concept and execution of WAR, we had Ezequiel Carrera at 0.0. But some shoddy defense dropped him to -0.5; his batting is still replacement level. His photo should still appear by "replacement player" in the dictionary.

As for mid-season additions, we've got Kosuke Fukudome (0.4) in the plus category, stabilizing RF even with late plunge leaving his OPS+ at just 88, and Ubaldo Jimenez (-0.4) in the negative category. It's at this point where I remind Nick that we still have two fairly inexpensive years of Ubaldo left.

In the category of having been on the team and participated in many of the games, we have Matt LaPorta, whose page still hasn't been snapped up for $90 a season. Shocker.

So what do the 2012 Wahoos look like, with these numbers in mind? Something like this:

LF Brantley
SS Cabrera
RF Choo
C/1B Santana
DH Hafner
CF Sizemore (assuming they rework his deal)
2B Kipnis
3B Chisenhall
1B/C Some guy

Bench: Duncan (why not?), Donald, Marson, Hannahan

SP Masterson
SP Jimenez
SP Carmona (again, assuming the option)
SP Tomlin
SP Gomez

CL C. Perez
RP Smith, R. Perez, Pestano, Sipp, two other cats

Looking at that lineup makes you realize that we can score some runs if our whole team isn't on the DL, and looking at the rotation makes you realize that...hey look, football's on TV!

1 comment:

Figgs said...

I can get behind that lineup. If Jimenez can be Colorado Ubaldo then him and Masterson can anchor that rotation. Tomlin was solid before he got hurt, hopefully he can come back to form and maybe one or two young guys can step up.

This season was a lot of fun, it was great to watch meaningful games after the All-Star break. I'm really looking forward to the 2012 season.