The Cleveland Indians played eighteen hitters who recorded at least 50 PAs in 2019. These ranged from Carlos Santana’s 686 PAs in 158 games to Hanley Ramirez’s 57 PAs in 16 games.
Last week, we examined which individual pitches thrown by Indians pitchers provided the most value in 2019. Today, we flip the script and ask which Indians hitters feasted the most on what pitches.
Most Tattooed Pitches
In this category I think we have one obvious answer and one surprising answer.
Francisco Lindor led all hitters against any pitch by amassing 18.3 total runs by pitch values against fastballs. He’s been an excellent fastball hitter for his entire career, and his per-100 pitch mark of 1.44 nearly matched his level of production from last season. His ability to produce runs against off-speed and breaking pitches dipped slightly year-over-year, however.
This was not the case for Carlos Santana, who obliterated changeups and produced 14 runs against them. He also provided the third most value against any one pitch, mashing 11 runs against fastballs. The only pitch he didn’t produce a positive number of runs against was the splitter, though this leveled out at -0.1. Throughout his entire career, Santana has hit well against all different types of pitches. This year in particular he took a huge jump against changeups. We know Santana changes his approach somewhat by deciding to stay back and drive some pitches the other way; his improvement against off-speed pitches may very well be the fruits of that labor.
Purely on a per-100 pitch basis, Tyler Naquin is the star hitter. He was the fourth best curveball hitter in all of baseball (yes, seriously) against curveballs, posting a 5.26 wCB/C. His production against cutters was also elite at 4.38 wCT/C. Those are the two highest values of any Indians player against any pitch by a longshot. Other honorable mentions include Jordan Luplow producing 10.5 wFB thanks to a 1.96 wFB/C, and Jose Ramirez swatting sliders with a wSL/C of 1.44.
Most Whiffed Pitches
In my mind, there are fewer surprises here overall.
Jake Bauers hurt the Indians the most, costing them 6.2 runs against the slider. The entire team struggled against sliders in 2019; only five players produced any runs agaisnt the pitch. Meanwhile, Leonys Martin, Roberto Perez, Jason Kipnis, and Tyler Naquin all cost the Indians three or more runs during the year. That doesn’t let Bauers off the hook, as he was uniquely bad. He was also the worst hitter against a cutter, and the fourth worst against changeups.
Greg Allen had the second worst overall production against any single pitch, surrendering 5.2 runs. Other hitters who struggled with the heat included Kevin Plawecki (-4.2), Franmil Reyes (-3.8, probably all above the belt), and Jason Kipnis (-2.8).
Compared to pitch value from the pitcher’s point of view, I think this number here match the “eye test” much more readily. Even my favorite outcome — Carlos Santana’s overall mastery of the zone and each pitch that may cross it — is one that feels obvious, even after accounting for hindsight bias. That’s just the kind of hitter that he’s always been.
This list also confirms some things we already believed about the roster. It could use some bat upgrades in the outfield and at second base. It’s a long offseason. Help may come from within the organization, but the team would benefit from some creative (or, dare I say it, bold) moves this winter to add some more length to the lineup.