Tribe getting it done, but taking different path

The wonderful – and frustrating – thing about sports is that whenever you examine a team, you have a plethora of statistics to help you measure a player’s value in a particular sport. The more time an athlete has in the sport, the easier to project his stats for an upcoming season.

It was based upon those stats I predicted a World Series trip for the Cleveland Indians this year and – the recent sweep of the Tribe by the K.C. Royals notwithstanding – the Indians have performed like a playoff team most of the year. But there have been some surprises, as well as disappointments, this season. Let’s take a look at the Tribe so far.

Performing about as expected: 2B Jason Kipnis, DH Carlos Santana, RF Lonnie Chisenhall, SS Francisco Lindor and OF Rajai Davis. Kipnis is having a decent year (.267 BA, 8 HR, 33 RBI) and I was counting on that – maybe more – from him. I’ve never been a big fan of Santana, but he’s hit 13 dingers and at this pace will hit about 30, which would be a big boost to the lineup. Francisco Lindor is having an All-Star year (.304, 7, 33) both at the plate and in the field. And yes, I think his numbers are just the tip of the iceberg for him. On the hill, Trevor Bauer, Cody Allen and Zach McAllister have been about where I envisioned them. Bauer still frustrates me by pitching like Cy Young one start, and Chris Perez the next. Still have hopes he can get it together.

Pleasant surprises so far: CF Tyler Naquin has hit far better (.300, 4, 10) than anyone expected. An even bigger surprise has been INF-OF Jose Ramirez, expected to be a utility player, but putting up impressive stats (.292, 3, 22) to date. The cream of the crop has to be 1B Mike Napoli (.233, 14, 45) who hasn’t hit for average but has been great in the clutch and looks to knock in more than 100 runs for the season. He’s been one of the leaders in the clubhouse as well. Pitching, it’s hard to put anyone other than Josh Tomlin (8-1, 3.27 ERA) and Danny Salazar (7-3, 2.25) at the top of the Tribe’s rotation this year. When they pitch, you expect to win.

Disappointments to date: OF Michael Brantley has hardly played (due to injury); same with starter Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco is the key, because if he can recover fully from his hamstring injury I think the Tribe will roll. C Yan Gomes is an enigma, hitting .167 yet still connecting for 7 homers and 27 RBI. And I’m starting to wonder what’s wrong with Corey Kluber (6-7, 4.23). He looks good one start and gets smoked the next. Cody Anderson (1-4, 7.48) and Bryan Shaw (0-3, 5.68) seem to have forgotten how to pitch.

If you told me at the beginning of the season we’d not have a healthy Michael Brantley or Carlos Carrasco for a large chunk of the first 65 games, I’d be less optimistic about our chances.

There’s still plenty of time to hop on board, folks. The World Series train hasn't yet left the station …

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

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Volume 8, Issue 12, Posted 9:30 AM, 06.21.2016