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Ryan Raburn making the most of his platoon role for Cleveland Indians

Ryan Raburn is red hot and one of the best hitters on the Indians right now, thanks in large part to a dedicated platoon at the DH spot.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Other than a few games full of big score cards, the Cleveland Indians offense has been lacking so far in the young 2015 season. They have thankfully improved as of late, with the slowly awakening offense managing to plate 102 runs - which is good enough for 15th in the majors as of May 4th. Along with Jason Kipnis finally finding the power that helped him hit 17 home runs in 2013 and Michael Brantley being Michael Brantley, there is another major factor of the offense resurgence in the form of Ryan Raburn.

As a team, the Indians are generally terrible against left-handing pitching. Fans knew this going into 2015, Terry Francona knew this going in 2015, the players knew this going into 2015, even someone stranded on a desert island with no Internet access knew this going into 2015. To date they have put up a limp .245 average and have struck out 63 times against southpaws (5th most in MLB).

Thankfully for the Tribe, and those of us who still watch them against left-handed pitchers, one Mr. Ryan Raburn has been smartly platooned by Francona in order to take advantage of one of the roster's few solid bats against lefties. So far in 2015 the 34-year-old has hit out of his mind against lefties, batting .457/.474/.743, with a home run and 10 runs batted in. (This comes with a couple caveats: It's only been a month and he has a BABIP of .517.)

While Raburn will likely come down to Earth eventually, there's a chance it may not be for a while. At the very least, his "back to Earth" level could still mean being one of the best at hitting lefties on the team. Of Indians hitters with at least 10 at bats against LHP, Raburn leads the team in hits (16), doubles (7), RBI (10), average (.457), on-base percentage (.474), slugging percentage (.743), and OPS (1.217).

Based on this limited sample size of being great against left-handing pitching, platooning Raburn seems like a no-brainer, but that hasn't always been the case. In his 10 year career in the majors (2004, 2007-current), Raburn has never been a dedicated platoon hitter. He's never been any every day hitter either mind you - save for 2011 when he started 121 games for Detroit and was worth a less-than-stellar 1.0 WAR - but he's never been held as a strict weapon against left-handed pitchers until this year. The signs were certainly there that he should be platooned however, as he has a clear edge against lefties over righties.

AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO wRC
vs L .261 .331 .480 .812 .219 118
vs R .251 .297 .398 .695 .147 85

Raburn's career .261/.331/.480 line against southpaws is nothing to write home about, but he's clearly geared towards left-handed pitching. Home runs are fairily similar for Raburn against LHP (42) and RHP (33), but his isolated power ratings paint a different picture. Against lefties he has a .219 ISO, while against righties he's managed only a .147 figure. His value as a hitter also drops dramatically against righties, as evidenced by his career 85 wRC against them, in comparison to his 118 wRC against lefties.

Despite a mound of evidence suggesting that he has no business being in against right-handed pitchers, Raburn has 1,129 career at-bats against them, compared to 922 against lefties. No manager before Francona has stuck Raburn to such a strict platoon role, despite the numbers. Last year he split time with David Murphy, as he's doing this year, but the results weren't quite the same for Raburn, as he only managed a .596 OPS against lefties. Still far better than his .463 OPS against righties.)

This year however, he's got it all working to perfection and the only question is how long can he sustain it when the BABIP cools down. If Francona can put the clamps on Raburn's bats against right-handed pitchers and keep him strictly platooned, the answer could be a pleasant one for Tribe fans.