Care always has to be taken with how we interpret player statements following tough losses like the one we witnessed last night. The Indians were supposed to be World Series contenders and they were taken down with ease by the previous world champs. Obviously not everyone is going to be thrilled.
Things can easily slip out that players don’t mean, or otherwise innocent things can be framed incorrectly because of the situation at hand.
Tensions might have boiled over behind closed doors as the Indians’ 2018 season officially came to a close, but being the strapping young professionals that they are, Indians players kept everything on the straight and narrow during interviews with the media.
The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd had an interesting post late last night that highlighted some of the ways the Astros were able to dismantle the Tribe so quickly and effectively with analytics being at the forefront. It showed how effectively the Astros attacked Indians hitters all series — only Mike Clevinger was able to miss any bats and Houston batters seemed to hit everything Trevor Bauer threw, even when it wasn’t in the zone or seemingly hittable.
With the exception of an awful ball four call for Yulieski Gurriel, all these balls thrown by Bauer were hit for base hits or at least enough to plate runs. I’m not sure you manage that unless you’re looking for them.
Astros batters swung and missed just 40 times all series long off pitchers not named Clevinger. Including Clev, they swung and missed 58 times.
Mike Clevinger was the closest to being publicly vocal about his displeasure with the “analytical side” of the Indians’ preparations for this series. You can hear Clevinger’s take yourself in his interview below as he hesitates and carefully chooses his words to not go all Odell Beckham Jr. on his team.
Nothing there sticks out as too terrible to me. Sure, maybe he feels more strongly than he’s willing to let on in front of a bunch of cameras, but it’s not like he’s taking incorrect pot shots at the Indians coaching staff or front office. Can anyone argue that he’s wrong? That the Indians looked prepared out there to face Justin Verlander, Gerritt Cole, and the entire Astros lineup? I sure can’t.
The mildly disturbing part of Lloyd’s piece is an anonymous source coming forward with the same comments. Nothing good comes from anonymous sources.
And one Indians player, speaking privately, told me he believed the Astros’ batters were far better prepared for this series than Indians hitters. He believed the scouting reports were more intricate and the attention to detail was more precise.
Again, nothing too outrageous and impossible to disagree with even from the outside looking in. The Astros looked ready for the Indians at every turn, and if there’s one way to make a team as talented as the Indians look that bad, it’s accurate, intricate scouting.
For what it’s worth, Lloyd says Bauer wasn’t the unnamed player, though he’s been outspoken before about how good the Astros scouting and analytics departments are, and I don’t doubt he wishes the Indians would do more.
The Indians have long been praised for their forward-thinking analytics — both on and off the field. The roster is loaded with smart signings and trades and Terry Francona’s novel use of Andrew Miller in 2016 arguably got them to the World Series single-handedly. But something has felt off all season with decisions being made, and it seems like it might be boiling over to the players.
At least this will all blow over when tomorrow’s game starts.