A 4-7 record is a not a disaster, though coupled with Detroit's 10-2 start, it has created an early 5.5 game hole for the Indians, and those 5.5 games count as much in the standings as any games played in August or September. The Tribe were given a 58% chance of making the postseason by FanGraphs' standings heading into the season, but those chances have already dropped to 36%.
No batter on the team has even reached 50 plate appearances yet, and no pitcher besides Corey Kluber has thrown more than 12 innings, so it remains awfully early to be trying to draw any conclusions about individual players, but the collective performance is concerning all the same, because even if everyone suddenly starts hitting well, the 5.5 game deficit is real. Beating the Tigers (and Royals, Twins, and White Sox) over the rest of the season is no longer good enough.
There are a number of things that haven't gone well through the season's first two weeks, including weak defense, shoddy bullpen work, and two very shaky starts by T.J. House, but nothing has been as big a problem as the offense.
Here are a few numbers to shake your head at...
- The Indians have scored only 35 runs so far this season, an average of 3.18 per game. That ranks them 14th out of 15 American League teams, ahead of only the Astros, who've lost an average of 104 games over the last four seasons.
- The Indians have a collective wRC+ of just 72, which also ranks 14th in the AL, ahead of only the Twins, who were mocked a few days ago by many Tribe fans as being basically a Minor League team these days.
- The Indians have a collective OBP of .278, which is also better than just one other AL team, in this case the Angels. That .278 figure is also worse than the individual OBP of 77 of last season's 78 qualified AL hitters. Unless he's a tremendous defensive player, someone with a .278 OBP should probably be sent down to Triple-A. (One might suggest the Indians swap rosters with Columbus, except that the Clippers haven't been able to manage any offense so far this year either.)
- The Indians have hit only 7 home runs so far this season. That's the very lowest total in the American League. It's also fewer than Nelson Cruz has hit all by himself.
All of this can be turned around, and the odds are some of it will be. Michael Brantley probably isn't going to end the year with a .488 OPS, Brandon Moss probably isn't going to keep striking out in 41% of his plate appearances, David Murphy probably won't maintain a BABIP of .167. Odds are some of it is going to remain worse than many of us expected though, and it'll get late early if things don't turn around quickly. One good series could get things back to respectability, and one good week could have things looking downright positive.
A new series and a new week begin today; let's hope the lineup realizes there's no time like the present for turning things around.