Where’s the offense? Ball Played

Denizens of the Rogers Centre were welcoming of the returning star, Edwin Encarnacion, as they stood to applaud loudly when he first stepped to the plate. The Toronto Blue Jays (12-20) were less welcoming. Despite having a rough go so far in the 2017 season, the Blue Jays jumped ahead of the Cleveland Indians (17-14) early, and the Tribe’s continued hitting woes ensured the loss, 4-2. Starter Trevor Bauer was not sharp as he allowed four runs. The offense was near inept as it appeared a shutout would be possible until Francisco Lindor plated two in the eighth inning.

Inept Offense

Since May 1, the Indians have scored a meager 13 runs over seven games to average less than two runs per game. A stark contrast to the last April game against the Seattle Mariners where the team scored 12 on that lone Sunday or April in general when they were scoring 4.85 runs per game. The Indians had finished the month of April as the fourth best team in wRC+ (110) with a slash line of .253/.334/.424. May has seen the Tribe batting .201/.278/.309 for a 63 wRC+, which is the absolute worst in MLB.

The sample size is exceedingly small, but the month has been so poor for the Indians that only three regular hitters are above 60 wRC+ (which is a line to indicate 40% worse than the average MLB hitter). Yan Gomes (.385/.500/.538, 197 wRC+), Edwin Encarnacion (.333/.429/.500, 164 wRC+), and Carlos Santana (.300/.344/.500, 133 wRC+) have flourished. Everyone else has been allergic to production.

Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez have now fallen below .300 batting averages for the season to give the team zero players with such a mark. The Tribe has even been 0-for-2 in stolen base attempts as little has been working to kick the offense into gear. After showing never-before-seen patience at the plate from Abraham Almonte in the opening month, he has been the absolute worst hitter on the team as he is mired in a 0-for-19 slump with a measly one walk. The -100 wRC+ attached to his mark means he has been 200% worse than the average MLB hitter.

The fact that the Tribe has won three games during this seven-game set is a testament to their pitching, which has allowed two or less runs in those three wins and the bullpen has yet to allow a run during this stretch.

Of course, poor hitting is not the only reason the Indians haven’t been scoring runs.

The Indians are not likely the fourth best offense in MLB, nor are they the absolute worst. Many expected them to finish as a Top 10 hitting club, and the length of the season should bear such out. This particular slump though has been brutal, and the Tribe needs to find a way to generate some offense. Perhaps putting hitting guru Jose Ramirez third instead of the struggling Jason Kipnis would help, but the struggles have been deeper than some lineup tinkering can fix.

Bauer Woes continue

There will be games where allowing four runs in six innings is acceptable (Bauer’s ERA ‘dropped’ to 7.37), and such an outing should at least give the Tribe a chance to win. It is just Bauer has relied upon such pitching lines every time out, which is troublesome for a player from which much more was hoped. He has only given up less than four runs in a start once thus far. Bauer looks poised to see Michael Clevinger bypass him as the fifth starter when Corey Kluber returns if he doesn’t figure out how to return to his innings-eating self. As noted on Monday at WFNY, rooting for Bauer is complicated and there are many fans who would be fine writing him off.

Bauer understands that his pitching has not been horrific. Let’s hope he also understands there’s a timetable on him showing better results.

  • NankirPhelge

    Can’t win if you don’t score the baseball.

  • jpftribe

    Even harder when you can’t throw or catch the baseball.

  • mgbode

    Add pitching a few easy ones for the opposition to hit & you’ve really challenged yourself.

    (crazy talk: if Pillar isn’t Pillar, the Indians still win that game last night)

  • jpftribe

    Speaking of outfielders I don’t want to trade for, what if Shaffer is better than Guyer? Tough luck?

  • mgbode

    When A-Jax comes back, Guyer & Abe are probably fighting right now to NOT be the guy sent away.

    If Shaffer keeps proving the new approach has led to real power, it’ll be tough for him to not be called up this summer.

  • jshmeezy6

    I’m still holding out for CarGo or AJ Pollack (for the past 3 years), but after Pillar made that catch I said out loud, “Damn, that was a fantastic catch by the Indians’ next center fielder.”

  • jpftribe

    They won’t let Guyer go if Abe has options, and he hurt his cause last night.

    I just do not understand keeping that 25th spot filled with MM who has no options when they are so deep at AAA. Antonetti and Chernoff are great baseball minds and this makes zero sense.

  • jpftribe

    Yeah, but Bode is already on the Clevinger bandwagon. If we land Pillar he’ll be insufferable.

  • jshmeezy6

    Plus Yandy is up again, too lol

  • mgbode

    Hey, hey. I’m insufferable on Clevinger and Santana (notice how nice he’s hitting), but I’ve been the brakes on Yandy.

    Hattery & Jim are your Yandy enthusiasts here.

    Regardless, imagine instead of holding your breath in dread on every hit to the OF, you are holding it in anticipation of the next great Pillar catch πŸ˜‰

  • mgbode

    45.5% strikeout rate for M-Mart is, well, not good.

  • Chris

    At least it’s better than grounding into double plays.

  • Chris

    Pillar is a defensive upgrade in center. He’s also likely an offensive upgrade. I’m with you, Bode! He’d look good with a Wahoo cap.

    Hypothetically, would you trade Mejia or Allen for him? I’m not sure I would go quite that far.

  • mgbode

    I think it would take G.Allen, B.Bradley, and another mid-level prospect or perhaps an Almonte or Chisenhall if they want someone to plug in on the MLB roster now.

    There are others who think I’m valuing Allen & Bradley too high and it could take a McKenzie or Meijia as the center piece considering that Pillar is controlled through the 2020 season.

  • mgbode

    And his .667 BABIP means when he makes contact, he’s almost always getting on base!!! I’m ‘sure’ that will continue πŸ™‚

  • Chris

    MM is already a walking MLB statistical outlier. 45.5% and .667 are just par for the course (although one is definitely an unusual direction for him)

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