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Cleveland Indians' failure to hit with runners in scoring position costing them wins

I know you can GET the job, but can you DO the job?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Indians began the season by sweeping their opening series on the road against the Rangers, scoring 21 runs, but they've lost four of five since then, scoring just 10 runs. A 4-4 record is nothing to be worried by, so please don't take this article to mean I'm worried, but it's been a frustrating few days, especially with a pair of one-run losses, each of which saw the Tribe fail to take advantage of their opportunities.

The Indians have had 85 plate appearances with at least one runner in scoring position (second and third base are considered scoring position), an average of 10.6 per game, which ranks ninth among MLB's 30 teams right now. Point being, they've had a good number of chances to drive in runs with even a single. Unfortunately, in those 85 plate appearances, they have a collective batting line of .155/.253/.197. Their OPS of .450 with runners in scoring position is better than only the Royals' .407. The Indians have an OPS+ of 26 when batting with runners in scoring position. I'd say it's like they're sending their pitchers to the plate, but Tribe pitchers had more than one extra-base hit in their 31 plate appearances last season.

The Indians have struck out 15 times with runners in scoring position, and have grounded into five double plays. Meanwhile, they've had only 11 hits, and just one of those was better than a single. (Granted, if you're only going to have one extra-base hit, Francisco Lindor's go-ahead grand slam is pretty good one to have.) His grand slam is actually Lindor's only hit in nine at bats with runners in scoring position. Jose Ramirez is 1 for 8, and Yan Gomes is 1 for 7. Edwin Encarnacion is 0 for 7, and Yandy Diaz is 0 for 6.

Performance with runners in scoring position isn't predictive in the long-term, meaning this terrible start doesn't mean we're likely in for a bad year. It's very predictive in the short-term though: I can predict with a high amount of confidence that if the Indians strike out when there is a runner on third base, that runner isn't going to score.