The All-Star game is officially behind us, and that means it is time to look forward to the rest of the games that count. With the second half of the season kicking off on Friday, the Cleveland Indians can begin trying to look past their disappointing start and make a push for the playoffs.
As they stand now, the Tribe are 42-46, 11.0 games back from the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals and they have a 17.3% chance of making the playoffs, according to FanGraphs’ playoff odds. FanGraphs also predicts that the Indians will finish the season somewhere around .500. It’s a mark they have struggled to reach all season, and .500 will not be enough to actually make the playoffs, even in a year like 2015, one full of so much parity.
Whether or not the Indians make the playoffs comes down to the players. With that in mind, how do prediction models (ZIPS and Steamer) predict how the Tribe players will do in the team's remaining 74 games? First up we'll take a look at the infielders, followed by the outfield tomorrow and pitchers on Friday.
Yan Gomes, C
Both ZiPS and Steamer project the Yanimal to have an improved season second half compared to disappointing first. According to both projection systems, Gomes' walk rate is expected to creep back closer to his career average (4.6%), up from his dismal 1.9 BB% in the first half of the season. Steamer likes his power potential a bit more than ZiPS, but both see him with a big improvement over his current .327 slugging percentage.
This would still be a pretty down year for Gomes, but considering his injury, bouncing back to around 1.3 WAR would not be bad, especially if his defense picks back up as well. I do think that playing in 48-50 games is a bit optimistic. Between the lingering injury and a surging Roberto Perez, I would not be shocked to see him lose a bit more playing time as the season goes on.
Carlos Santana, 1B
Santana's second half is projected to look very similar to his first half. The home run numbers stay the same, but his slugging percentage is up considerably (.382 in first half), meaning both models think he'll be hitting more doubles and/or triples. Each model also gets a little excited based off of his five stolen bases in the first half of the season. His previous season-high for stolen bases is five, so stealing another two or three over 67 games would give him a new personal best.
Similar to Gomes, Santana is on pace for one of the worst offensive seasons of his career. Unless he explodes and outpaces these projections, he's looking at a 2.6 WAR season, which would be the lowest since his debut season in 2010 when he played only 46 games.
Jason Kipnis, 2B
Unsurprisingly, ZiPS and Steamer see Jason Kipnis regressing back into a normal human being as he continues to come down from his historic May numbers. We have seen a bit of this regression already towards the end of the first half of the season, but the drop-off is likely to continue for some time. This is no a bad half-season by any means, especially going by ZiPS and its more optimistic power and walk numbers.
This would put Kipnis on course for roughly a 6.7 WAR season, which would the best season of his career. Whether or not those are MVP numbers depend on how well Prince Fielder and others themselves hold up over the remainder of the season.
Francisco Lindor, SS
These numbers don't look great for Lindor, but they would end up an improvement over his first half of 2015 (which was really only a month). Interestingly enough, ZiPS has him performing better overall in the second half, but striking out more (18.0 K% in first half). The prediction models don't have much data to go on, so Lindor could still blow past these numbers if something clicks for him. Otherwise, he's looking a sub-1 WAR season, with most of his value coming from defense. As long as he can keep making plays like these, I'll gladly put up with a weak bat for his rookie campaign.
Giovanny Urshela, 3B
I am not so sure I agree with the prediction models here. Both of hem have Urshela's walk rate regressing from his first-half 5.7 BB%, which does not seem likely. The predictions do call for a lower strikeout rate (17.1% first half), which I think makes sense. Neither of these help his projected OBP, which looks to fall from its current .295.
It is also worth noting that Lonnie Chisenhall is still tearing up Triple-A, so it brings up the question of how long the Indians will keep Urshela's quiet bat around if his defense doesn't remain stellar. If Monstro finds himself in a major hitting slump, you have to think that he will be looking over his shoulder every at-bat.
- - -
All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.