You won’t find many pretty offensive numbers in Cleveland right now. It’s the way of an early season — one 0-for-4 outing can make you look like Adam Dunn circa 2011, while a nice outing gives you the look of 2004 Adam Dunn. Even with that being the case, the Tribe seems rather moribund.
So we seek signifiers, hints of something better to come, because quite frankly the front office emptied the barn when it comes to solid vets with good track records. Instead we have to lean on hope in young, promising players, guys like Jake Bauers. His being something like a solid offensive contributor is vital to the Indians’ success this summer.
The numbers do not bear hope within them. As of this writing he has two hits, though one of them was a ringing double to the wall that jolted the Tribe’s rally on Monday’s win over the White Sox. Overall he’s hitting .167/.231/.250, a trash line. But again, it’s early as anything. This weekend he could have a couple 2-for-3 days or draw a walk or two and suddenly he’s packing a Bondsian stat line. We just don’t know. All that’s needed is for him to stop pulling the ball as much as he did in the second half last year when we saw his OPS drop from .864 to .589, and also be patient at the plate and not overreact.
The good news is, the (very) early returns are at least somewhat encouraging. This is all prefaced on the fact it’s a mere 44 pitches he’s seen, and just 13 balls put in play. That all being said, his spray chart, while sparse, is interesting at the least:
That he hasn’t really pulled anything at all is interesting, at least something to remark on. In a vacuum, it’s just something to look at, though. When seen along with how he’s been pitched, it gives a better window into how Bauers is approaching the ball:
Pitchers are working Bauers a decent amount away, and he’s not giving in and trying to get around and yank it across the diamond. He’s just going with it. That, and the fact he’s not chasing too many ugly balls down and out of the zone, and that his two hits (the red dots) are on pitches that typically victimize lefties, it’s all a bunch of small pieces of a very incomplete puzzle.
The Indians offense has been a wet fart so far this year. Their five runs on Monday came way too much on the back of terrible relief pitchers that couldn’t find the zone. It’s all still offense, but the dynamic kind, the kind with hits and stuff, that would be preferable. We don’t know which Bauers is real from last year, or whether this years’ markers are actually telling us anything. He’s doing what he should be so far though, and that at least is encouraging.