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Indians players that could use a tweak or two

The Indians have players with the capability to be offensive monsters, if they just make some adjustments.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Cleveland Indians Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

For a team that was sixth in runs scored in 2017 and fourth in offensive WAR, there seemed to be times the Cleveland Indians unaccountably struggled to score runs. It reached its fruition in October, but throughout the season there were dead spots that made the pitching staff do the heavy lifting. Now that the Tribe might lose a couple key contributors and might not have the money to resupply on the open market, they need to look inward. Perhaps there are some guys who, with just a little tweak, just a fidget, can turn from decent hitters to true clubmen.

Basically, what we're talking about is finding more players on the Indians that have some of the goods that would allow them to reach that sweet spot of launch angle and exit velocity. I'm not looking for another Aaron Judge neccessarily, just a bit more elevation. As this chart from FiveThirtyEight and Baseball Savant shows, home runs are the territory of 20-25 degree launch in excess of about 98 miles per hour:

but nobody averages those numbers. Aaron Judge led the world at 94.9 mph, though it was up to 100.2 on fly balls and line drives. THere's a reason he's collecting hardware this fall. Anyway, life is not all home runs and strikeouts. Further down that chart, there's a lot of runs to be found in the "line drives" area, and that's kind of what we're targeting.

After some brief study, here's the palyers I targeted to make a tweak and get good, quick. I've listed them for their exit velocity along with a comparable player who hit at a better angle, to give an idea of what they could be:

Indians players that are almost amazing

Player Exit Velo (mph) Launch Angle (degrees) Comparative Player by EV Player 2 Launch Angle(degrees)
Player Exit Velo (mph) Launch Angle (degrees) Comparative Player by EV Player 2 Launch Angle(degrees)
Michael Brantley 88.4 9.8 Carlos Santana 12.7
Yandy Diaz 91.4 0.0 Ryan Zimmerman 8.5
Abraham Almonte 87.6 4.0 Joey Votto 14.0
Erik Gonzalez 87.2 2.5 Willson Contreras 5.9
Bradley Zimmer 86.5 6.1 Jedd Gyorko 15.3
Greg Allen 85.5 8.0 Lonnie Chisenhall 16.0

There's some easy to ridicule points here. For instance, it's not his exit velo and launch angle that make Joey Votto a truly dazzling player. Almonte doesn't have a shadow of the zone command that Votto has. And with Greg Allen, we have like 28 batted balls to draw from information from. Plus we're dealing with averages here. That doesn't represent true power. That said, check this:

Max Exit Velocity

Player Max Exit Velo (mph)
Player Max Exit Velo (mph)
Diaz 112.8
Brantley 110.2
Almonte 109.3
Gonzalez 109.2
Zimmer 114.6

That's their max exit velocity this year. There's no information on Allen I could find. Again, 28 batted balls measured. But the power is there. These are real, actual major leaguers, the lot of them. They can hit it hard if the situation is right. They already hit the ball, on average, as hard as some good or even great players. If Zimmer hit like Gyorko he’d be a superstar with that glove.

But my real point is, despite not having the most elite of bat speeds or exit speeds, these are five men who have shown they have at least the bones to build something special offensively.

Of course, it's easy to just say "change your swing, hit dingers". After all, Jose Bautista did it. Josh Donaldson did it. Just add some uppercut, dummy. Change that thing you've honed to a fine point over literal decades of playing the game. No, it's actual work. Remember when Zimmer did it, and his numbers looked like that of a single-A guy who was advanced too quickly? That's the downside here. But all these players (maybe not Brantley so much at this point) have one thing going for them - athleticism. It takes work to make the needed adjustments, but in someone like Donaldson's case, it was about being a supreme athlete as much as anything. As Jerry Brewer, a hitting instructor from Bay Area-based East Bay Hitting Instruction said in an interview with SBNation sister site Athletics Nation, Donaldson has the ability to move his ability in such an optimal way that he was able to make these adjustments, and despite having what some might consider a busy swing, he turns it into power. That, and unbridled aggression when he does swing.

These guys — Zimmer, Diaz, and Allen especially — are young and athletic. They’re where they are in the Indians system because of that athleticism. SUrely they can do something resembling what Donaldson pulled off. The Indians want them to be good players. Zimmer, at least, has reportedly made adjustments to have a more successful, and he’s only had one year to really work it. Brantley might be a hard case since he’s been playing for a while, but he does surely want to have a resurgent season. And then there’s Diaz, a man with the raw tools to be incredible. Will any of them make that leap to the Revolution? Spring will show us. It can’t come soon enough.