If you thought the Cleveland Indians infielders played a bit over their heads this season, you may be even more surprised by the outfield. Tyler Naquin is the first name that comes to mind, of course, having been the Indians' best offensive player in the few opportunities he has had to play. But how will long will it all continue?
All of these will likely change or be adjusted when Michael Brantley comes back, but I did not include his projections because, at this point, they really will not tell us much. Neither ZiPS nor Steamer take injuries into account for anything other than playing time, and we still do not know how Brantley's shoulder injury will affect him once he plays for more than two weeks at a time.
As with the infielders post yesterday, these numbers are current as of July 11.
Jose Ramirez, LF
|2016 First Half||316||4||10||7.3%||11.4%||.325||.295||.352||.417||108||1.7|
When Michael Brantley does return, no one will feel his impact more than Jose Ramirez. The Angry Hamster has played nearly half of his innings in left field this season, after doing so in only two games prior to this season. He has been serviceable on defense, if not great, but could be even better when/if he shifts to full-time third base duties.
Even if Ramirez plays at the regressed levels that ZiPS and Steamer have him at, he is still a sizable upgrade over Juan Uribe, offensively. Much like I noted with Carlos Santana yesterday, there really is a change in Ramirez's approach, so it would not be a surprise to see him stick closer to his excellent first-half numbers.
Ramirez's BABIP in the first half isn't all that high, but ZiPS and Steamer both regress it significantly to come closer to his career .284 average on balls in play. I don't see any reason that Ramirez could not keep his BABIP above .300 this season. It's not like he is a slow hitter making weak contact -- only 16.9 percent of his hits this season have been classified as "Soft" by FanGraph and we all know how much he hustles.
ZiPS and Steamer both also see his plate appearances dropping significantly which, again, is just blinding bringing him back down to previous seasons' numbers. It would be pretty shocking to see Ramirez not get full or near full playing time in the second half.
Tyler Naquin, CF
|2016 First Half||176||9||3||8.0%||29.5%||.418||.314||.374||.591||155||1.6|
Oh, Tyler Naquin. You beautiful, power-hitting, poor defensive player who is totally the opposite of what we thought coming out of the minors.
To this point, Tyler Naquin has a ridiculous .418 batting average on balls in play, which obviously will not stand. Curiously enough, ZiPS and Steamer both have him staying with a pretty high BABIP, mostly because that is the type of hitter he was in the minors. Naquin is also not getting weak bloop hits every night. In fact, 41.3 percent of the contact he makes is classified as "Hard," with 37.6 percent being "Medium." He is also spraying the ball all over the field, pulling 38.5 percent of the time, hitting to center 35.8 percent of the time, and hitting opposite field 25.7 percent of the time. None of these things are factors that ZiPS or Steamer take into account.
I agree that regression is due, of course, but even a Naquin at 2/3 of the production he had in the first half is still one of the better hitters on the Indians. The wheels are going to fall off eventually, but I say ride him until they do.
Rajai Davis, CF/LF
|2016 First Half||304||9||24||7.2%||22.4%||.320||.265||.327||.433||103||2.1|
Rajai Davis was a rather unceremonious signing by the Indians this offseason, and he was quickly overshadowed by Mike Napoli's power bat once the season rolled around. However, his first half was one of the best on the Indians.
Projections have his strikeout rate actually dropping quite a bit, but his walk rate and BABIP going down with it. ZiPS and Steamer also do not much faith in his 48-stolen base pace (which would be a career-high), as they have him slicing his swiped bases in half over the rest of the season.
In only half a season, Davis has already set a new career-high for home runs. His previous high was eight, which he did three otu of the last four seasons. Only one more home run and he has the first double-digit home run season of his career.
Lonnie Chisenhall, RF
|2016 First Half||230||6||4||6.5%||16.1%||.335||.299||.345||.474||117||1.2|
Even with a full season's worth of solid baseball (dating back to when he came back as a right fielder in 2015), Lonnie Chisenhall remains a divisive figure. He has historically been a streaky hitter, and so far this season all he has done is streak as a great hitter.
His slash line, as it is, would all be a career-high for Chisenhall, but so would his BABIP. ZiPS and Steamer smack all that down with some regression that still leaves him as a pretty good batter. Neither the 0.3 fWAR nor the 0.7 fWAR that the projections have him at would be good enough for him to have a career-best year (2.1 fWAR in 2015).
Steamer has him finishing the year with 12 home runs, just one shy of his career-high 13 he hit in 2014.
Abraham Almonte, CF
|2016 First Half||6||0||0||0.0%||33.3%||.200||.133||.133||.267||-7||-0.1|
Almonte's first-half was obviously way too small to matter, but the projections still have a couple years' worth of games to build on. They are not impressed.
Steamer has him starting in only 19 games over the last few months, playing just enough to have him break even at 0.0 fWAR.
ZiPS, on the other hand, gives him quite a bit of playing time as a well-below-average hitter. If Almonte is anything but a fourth outfielder (or in Triple-A) I would be disappointed.