The Cleveland Indians went a perfect 6-0 last week, sweeping the Twins and then the Marlins. All that winning added only one game to their lead over the Tigers, who continue to play well, but a 5.5-game lead heading into the final four weeks of the season is nothing to scoff at. The first game of the week continued the Tribe’s offensive struggles from the previous week, but they scored at least five runs in each of the other five games,
Which players did the most to help the team’s cause as they won and won and won?
- 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
- July 25-31: Jose Ramirez (my pick), Tyler Naquin (reader vote)
- August 1-7: Mike Napoli
- August 8-14: Jose Ramirez
- August 15-21: Jose Ramirez
- August 22-28: Andrew Miller
On Monday against the Twins Bauer pitched six shutout innings, with four strikeouts, five hits, and just one walk. Then on Saturday against the Marlins, Bauer was touched up for three runs in the first inning, but bounced back in a big way by pitching all the way into the ninth and allowing only one more hit during his final 7.1 innings. For the two games combined he had a 1.88 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in 14.1 innings, with eight strikeouts.
Friday night against Miami, Carrasco pitched a gem, with 11 strikeouts over the course of 7.1 shutout innings, with only one walk and six hits allowed. Carrasco has 56 strikeouts in 40 innings in his six starts during the last month, and has given up only four walks during that time.
Kipnis hit .286/.467/.571 in 30 plate appearances, with a wRC+ of 176. He reached base safely in all six games last week, with a total of six hits and a Carlos Santana-esque eight walks. In fact, he walked at least once in all six of the games, the second-longest streak of his career. In the bottom of the tenth inning on Monday, Kipnis drove in the only run of the game with a walk-off single. He led the team with seven RBI and tied with Santana for the lead in runs scored with five.
Lindor hit .423/.464/.615 in 28 plate appearances, with a wRC+ of 191. He led the team with 11 hits, including three doubles and a triple. He had four multi-hit games. He had four hits on Saturday, which was his 22nd game this season with at least three hits. That ties him with Carlos Baerga in 1992 for most 3+ hit games in a season for the Indians since Earl Averill set the franchise record with 29 such games in 1936.
In a 6-0 week there are going to be some strong performers, and I think all four candidates have a case. Between the two pitchers, Carrasco had the single best performance, but Bauer pitched well twice. Among the position players (and saying nothing of the strong week had by Jose Ramirez and Rajai Davis, and strong couple games by Chris Gimenez and Coco Crisp), Lindor had the slightly better wRC+, but Kipnis put up his line for a couple additional plate appearances. I wouldn't argue with a vote for any of the other three, but this week I'm using WPA as the tiebreaker, because in a week with three one-run victories, good timing meant a lot. No one timed their production better than Kipnis, who led the team with 0.67 WPA for the week. He's my pick.
Congratulations for the fourth time, Jason!