August is almost over, which means this painful 2009 season is almost over. But the only thing worse than a painful season is a long and boring off-season. So we might as well enjoy our early weekend 6-packs while we still have them. Plus the Indians have actually been fun to watch of late, a nice change from earlier in the season.
1. Left field...where did we leave it?
Left field is not supposed to be an offensively challenged position. And yet this season the only position the Indians have gotten less production from is catcher. Here is the OPS by position, from best to worst, for this year's Tribe:
RF - 838
1B - 837
DH - 800
CF - 788
3B - 768
SS - 761
2B - 750
LF - 732
C - 698
Our production from LF last year was a little better (761), but still not great. It would be nice to see LaPorta out there for 140 games next year putting up a respectable compliment to Choo in RF. And before everyone jumps on Shoppach about our catcher production, he has actually put up a 721 OPS as a catcher. And Victor put up a 761 OPS while playing catcher (955 while playing 1B!), leaving the wonderkids of Chris Gimenez and Wyatt Toregas as the anchors.
2. It's getting better all the time
At least that is the case with our pitching staff this year. There is still a ways to go till we really get to the end of the season, but here is the first-half/second-half breakdown of our pitching staff as of now:
This is hardballtimes.com's picture of the AL Central this season. It isn't pretty.
And I still think the time period circled in red is when the Indians should have acted dramatically to change the course of the season and fired Eric Wedge.
4. Mahoning Valley is scrappy
I try to not pay attention to the short-season teams because you are almost inherently facing small samples and the composition of the league changes quite a bit as draftees sign throughout the season. Nevertheless this year's team, with a 41-23 record, is doing quite well. I'm particularly interested in some of their offensive performances, so I thought it might be interesting to compare to Mahoning Valley performances over the past 5 seasons. Here are some notes:
- Jordan Henry is putting up a .414 OBP with 250 plate appearances. The only Scrapper to top that with a comparable number of plate appearances was Todd Martin in 2007, but he was a 24-year old first-baseman, not a 21-year old centerfielder. Jesus Brito actually has a .438 OBP, but in far fewer plate appearances and inflated somewhat by his .340 batting average.
- Henry also has 19 SBs and counting. Jose Constanza and Adam White have previously topped that total, but Henry's 19 against just 1 CS is nice.
- Kyle Bellows has 7 HRs in about 220 plate appearances. That's a pretty big number for the Valley. In 2005 the renowned Evandy DeLeon hit 7 HRs in about 200 PAs, and in 2007 the aforementioned Todd Martin hit 8.
- Jason Kipsnis has 10 extra-base hits (7 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 1 HR) in fewer than 80 plate appearances. The only guy to hit extra-base hits at a better rate was Stephen Head (2005), who had 4 doubles and 6(!) HRs in just 45 plate appearances before getting promoted all the way to Kinston.
- In addition to the players mentioned above, Casey Frawley, Greg Folgia and Jason Smit have some interesting numbers.
5. Kelly is the man, but Choo's a safer bet
According to HitTracker.com, Kelly Shoppach has the longest true-distance HR for Cleveland this season, at 460 feet. Shin Soo Choo, however, has the next 3 longest shots, 434, 433 and 432 feet.
6. Chris Perez is better than bad
He's good. Here is his line over his past 16 appearances, stretching back to July 8th.
16 games, 16.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 20K, 4BB, 300 OPS against