The Indians scored all seven of their runs Thursday night in the 4th inning. More impressively, they scored all seven of their runs after their were already two outs in the 4th inning, using six straight hits to do the damage. Aesthetically, I find two-out runs to be especially pleasing, especially if the Indians didn't score before there were two outs in the frame. I suppose it's because the pessimist in me has halfway given up on the inning at that point, so the runs come as a surprise. Last night's outburst is part of a trend for the Tribe through the season's first two months: They've been hitting really well and scoring a lot of runs with two outs.
After last night, the Indians have scored 119 runs with two outs so far this season, the most by any team in baseball. Their 35 doubles and 27 home runs each rank 3rd, their 64 total extra-base hits rank 1st. Their .276 BA with two outs ranks 3rd in MLB, as does their .352 OBP, and their .475 SLG leads all teams, as does their .827 OPS. Taken altogether, the Indians have pretty clearly been the best-hitting team in baseball with two outs on the board.
Most of you are familiar with OPS+ (which adjusts a team's OPS for league, park, and era factors and then puts it on a scale in which 100 is league average, 110 is 10% better than average, 90 is 10% worse than league average, etc.), Baseball-Reference also tracks sOPS+, which is the same concept, but for specific splits. The Indians' sOPS+ for hitting with two outs is 134, which is also the best in baseball right now. The last team to finish with such a high figure was the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, and the Indians franchise record is 126, by the 1999 team, which should give you some idea of how well the Tribe is hitting with two outs this season.
Eleven different Indians have had at least 25 plate appearances with two outs so far in 2013. Here's a look at their production:
The category I'd like to draw your attention to is tOPS+, which compares a player's production in this particular split to their own overall production. Asdrubal Cabrera has done very, very poorly with two outs, but all ten of the other players on the list have better numbers with two outs, even though overall production around MLB with two outs dips by 5% (to a tOPS+ of 95).
Michael Brantley's .383 BA ranks 6th in the AL (Ryan Raburn and Michael Bourn are also in the top ten); the franchise record* is .369 by Dale Mitchell in 1952.
Raburn's .442 OBP ranks 6th in the AL (Brantley is also in the top ten); the franchise record* is .482 by Travis Hafner in 2006. (holy smokes)
Raburn's .789 SLG ranks 1st in the AL and his 1.231 OPS and 245 sOPS+ each rank 2nd in the league (to Alex Gordon; Carlos Santana is also in the top ten); the franchise record* in each of those categories is held by Manny Ramirez from his incredible 1999 season. His two-out SLG that year was .792, his OPS was 1.246, and his sOPS+ was 222.
Ryan Raburn has been hitting like 1999 Manny Ramirez with two outs, only he's been even better, given the lower run-scoring environment of 2013.
The Tribe is due for some regression to the mean in this category, because the odds of any team putting up numbers this good over the course of a full season are slim (they're highly unlikely to maintain a BABIP of .329 with two outs), but it's been tremendous fun to see them put together so many two-out rallies and I'm going to enjoy the ride while it lasts.