The Cleveland Indians rebounded from a down week by going 4-1 last week (and enjoying two days off), and are back to having the American League's best record and run differential. Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers have been the hottest team in baseball the last few weeks, but the rest of the division has fallen back, so it'll be a two-team race during the final two months of the season.
Which players led the way for the Tribe as they righted the ship last week?
- April 4-10: Mike Napoli
- April 11-17: Jason Kipnis
- April 18-24: Francisco Lindor
- April 25-May 1: Carlos Santana (my pick), Tyler Naquin (reader vote)
- May 2-8: Francisco Lindor
- May 9-15: Jason Kipnis
- May 16-22: Rajai Davis
- May 23-29: Jose Ramirez
- May 30-June 5: Tyler Naquin
- June 6-12: Trevor Bauer
- June 13-19: Rajai Davis
- June 20-26: Francisco Lindor (my pick), Lonnie Chisenhall (reader vote)
- June 27-July 3: Carlos Santana
- July 4-10: Jason Kipnis
- July 11-17: Mike Napoli
- July 18-24: Tyler Naquin
Almonte hit .500/.462/.833 in 13 plate appearances, with a wRC+ of 237. didn't look worthy of a roster spot during his first few weeks back from suspension, but Saturday and Sunday he had his two best games since returning, with a pair of hits each day, including his first home run of the season on Saturday, a solo shot that provided a lead the Indians wouldn't relinquish.
Sunday against the Royals, Kluber turned in the Tribe's top pitching performance of the week, tossing seven shutout innings against the A's, with seven strikeouts. Over the last six weeks Kluber has averaged just over seven innings per start, with more than a strikeout per inning, and a 2.01 ERA. He's also taken the lead in WAR among American league pitchers at FanGraphs.
Naquin hit .600/.692/.700 in 13 plate appearances, with a wRC+ of 286. He started only three games, but made them count, with five hits in those three games, plus a punch-hit RBI double off Jonathan Papelbon during the ninth inning on Tuesday. Build that Rookie of the Year case, Tyler, build that Rookie of the Year case.
Ramirez hit .444/.500/.722 in 20 plate appearances, with a wRC+ of 232. He hit safely in all five of the team's games, with multiple hits on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. He had two doubles, a home run, and stolen base during the week, while starting three games at third base (where I expect he'll play most days the rest of the season) and twice in left field.
All four guys are pretty close together for me this week. Kluber was really good, but seven innings isn't a monster performance, and he wasn't facing a great lineup. Meanwhile, Ramirez's offense wasn't quite as strong as the other two position players, but he started all five games, compared to just three apiece for the other two guys. I expect a close vote this time around. My own personal splitting of these hairs has me siding with the guy who spent the most time on the field: Ramirez. Congratulations, Jose!