In the top of the 7th inning on Friday, Cheslor Cuthbert smashed a deep drive to right center field. It bounced at the base of the wall, only the 3rd hit Danny Salazar allowed on the night.
Joy of joys, Cuthbert thought while sprinting toward second. Surely this is the hit that will get the Royals back into this baseball game. We have rattled the starting pitcher and can now accumulate many runs off of him and his bullpen. How ple—
Lindor's glove thumped against his shoulder. Cuthbert laid by the base and thought, Oh dear. I have made quite a fool of myself and can never show my face in public again. Such is life.
What cruel beast cut down this poor hitter in the prime of his career? Lonnie Chisenhall.
During the preseason I suggested that Chisenglove's advanced defensive metrics "bring to mind a ball-hungry labrador with a rocket launcher attached to its back." On this particular play we saw all of the attributes that make him an excellent outfielder.
On contact Chisenhall springs toward the ball at an excellent angle.
All four Both legs churn toward the warning track. At a dead sprint, Chisenhall reads the trajectory of the ball and decides to pull up short of the warning track. It skips off of the and nestles itself into webbed leather. It rests for less than half of a second. Chisenhall plucks it from his glove, makes one quick shuffle step, and uncoils a throw to second base. Lindor gobbles it up and slaps Cuthbert, and Salazar goes from a one-out baserunner on second to empty bases with two outs.
How did the Chisenbrain orchestrate all of this?
While racing toward the wall he solves several pure mathematics and theoretical physics problems that have eluded the most dedicated scholars of the world for decades. He stops at just the right spot, allowing himself to field the ball while gaining momentum for the throw. The Chisenbullet hits its target and kills a rally before it begins. The Indians are lucky to have a player capable of making these on-the-fly decisions correctly, because it's really ugly when they go wrong.
There's even more good news for Indians fans. While Chisenhall continues to excel in right field defensively, his bat is beginning to warm up. He's slashing .280/.357/.410 for an OPS of 103+, meaning he is hitting slightly better than a league-average starter at right field. We can expect to see Chisenhall play in right field most nights for the foreseeable future now that Marlon Byrd is unemployed.
A consistent Chisenbat goes a long way to fixing an outfield that might benefit from signing Willie "Mays" Hayes at this point. This is especially true since we're all casually sipping coffee in a burning room while waiting to hear news about Michael Brantley. If you had told me at the beginning of the season that our two best outfielders would be Chisenhall and Jose Ramirez while we sat five games above .500, I would have hugged you and recommended a prominent local psychiatrist.
Can we stop pondering the Chisenquestion? Not yet, but if Lonnie keeps hitting and making plays like this, the answer is going to be delightful.