Ladies and Gentlemen, the Cleveland Indians have now played exactly half of the games in the 2016 season. Its record stands at 49-32, with a 5.5-game lead in the American League central. I took a moment to review highlights and make a few predictions about the rest of the season at the quarter mark, and I’ll be doing the same today.
Disclaimer: I am an idiot.
Most Valuable Player: IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE ANYMORE
It’s a statistical dead heat between Francisco Lindor and Danny Salazar at this point. FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference differ in their WAR calculations. FanGraphs gives Lindor the edge, while Baseball-Reference prefers Salazar. Sometimes, it's helpful to average both, which gives us the following evaluation:
It comes down to how much you value the contributions of a starting pitcher against that of an everyday player. I have to give the edge to Lindor. I think the energy that he provides the club every single day is an intangible that, when tossed on top of his statistical lead, makes the difference too great to ignore. I’ll probably never be allowed in SABR for citing "energy" as a difference maker on the field, but at least I didn’t write this ludicrous scouting report:
He even seems to be reacting to how stupid it is.
Most Disappointing Player: Still Yan Gomes
Since the last write-up we’ve tried to dig a little bit deeper into this problem. Unfortunately, here are the splits for the first quarter and the last quarter of the season for the catcher.
|Apr 5 to May 22, 2016||131||123||13||22||6||0||6||21||6||0||33||0||0||2||2||0||0||0||.179||.214||.374||.588||.186|
|May 23 to Jul 1, 2016||98||94||8||17||4||1||2||9||2||0||25||2||0||0||1||6||0||0||.181||.214||.309||.523||.224|
This is not at all encouraging. I’m don’t know whether this is an extended slump, or if the Silver Slugging Yanimal happened to be an extended lucky hot streak. It’s getting to the point now that the Indians need to consider doing something at catcher. Roberto Perez will return from the disabled list sometime soon — I’m guessing that it will be after the All-Star break — and he’s hit .235/.340/.379 in 339 career plate appearances. For now, he appears to be the best option at catcher.
I’m not saying that we need to send Gomes to grandpa’s farm upstate, but a trip to Columbus might not hurt. Golfers with swings that go completely out of whack take some time away from tournaments, find a new swing coach, and recalibrate. They’re often able to return to their former level of performance, or even improve. I don’t see why a AAA stint should feel any different for Yan. It seems clear to me that tossing him out there every day isn’t helping him fix anything.
Most Surprising Player: Tyler Naquin
Here’s one of my favorite stats so far on the 2016 Indians: Tyler Naquin is tied for 3rd in the AL for triples with five. This contributes to his rookie-leading slugging percentage of .568. As anyone reading this blog is fully aware, his .317 AVG and .379 OBP are supported by a .442 BABIP that continues to be regression-proof. Even with the BABIP in mind, I don’t think anyone expected this offensive production out of Naquin.
Also surprising: Naquin has been miserable defensively. Most people agree that he hasn’t passed the eye test, but he is not doing well by the numbers at all. bWAR suggests that he’s cost the Indians almost an entire win in the field, eating up most of his 1.4 WAR at the plate. Since Naquin was our player most likely to crash into a wall last time around, maybe this isn’t a shock... except that I’d heard Naquin would rate as a plus defender in the majors, with a very good arm. So far, I haven’t seen it.
The final note here is that it takes at least 500-700 plate appearances to have any level of confidence about a hitter’s talent, and three seasons according to some based on our current understanding of defense. Naquin is not near either.
Most Unfortunate Injury: Tie, Yan Gomes and Juan Uribe
Both players took a shot to the groin since we last reviewed the team.
Uribe enjoyed a 106 mph grounder from Mike Trout
Gomes took a foul tip to the naughty bits
Without experiencing both firsthand, it won’t be possible for me to determine who got the worst of it. I’m a big fan of immersion journalism and all, but I’ll sit this one out.
By the way, Googling "Uribe Gomes Groin" is a lot less riskier than I expected.
Since the injuries, Gomes began using a Kevlar cup, while Uribe noted that manufacturers have yet to accomodate a man of his stature.
PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO HIT 40 DINGERZ: LANDO CARLOSSIAN
Right now, Carlos Santana is on pace to hit 36-37 home runs. He has 18 today. Meanwhile, Mike Napoli is trending toward 32. I propose that we photoshop Napoli into some kind of Star Wars character if he hits the 30 dingerz benchmark first. Poe Dameron, perhaps (UPDATE: LGT user Stairs suggests Napoeli Dameron.) Or, if we want to make as little sense as possible, Senator Bail Organa. Beru Lars just seems cruel.
What’s really bizarre about all of this is that I ran an OOTP season where Santana hit 41 home runs. It seemed impossible at the time, but if Santana scorches through a few more hot streaks, it might be reachable.
Speaking of that simulation....
Player Most Likely to Pitch 1,300 Innings: Bryan Shaw
Just to keep you updated on the Shaw Redemption, our simulated friend deceived me and managed to split the 2020 season with a non-name left fielder. He only threw 700 innings, but the results are still as awful as last time. When he retires I plan on sharing the final results. While this is virtual, it makes Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment look like a family vacation.
Dumbest Thing I’ve Predicted: The Indians would do really well to reach 50 wins by the All-Star break
I mentioned it during one of the live postgame Q&As on the Facebook page shortly after the Indians were swept by the Royals. Thanks to a 14-game winning streak, the Tribe sped that process up quite a bit. One more win between now and July 12th puts them there.
When we hit the three-quarters mark I’ll be back to discuss how the Indians fared after the break, and what the final leg of the season may have in store. I really hope Michael Brantley can join the party.