Twenty-twenty had to be a truly frustrating season for young players that are just looking for a shot to show what they can do. With just 60 games to try to sneak in play time and a highly reduced preseason, there was simply no time to show the manager and other higher ups what you could do. To say nothing of us writer types. How am I to make any kind of judgement from thirteen plate appearances over ten games, and just ten total batted ball events? That’s what Yu Chang saw this year, and that’s all we saw of him. So, what must be said about this lost season?
Chang in particular was doubly stuck. Even on a team that didn’t see its manager out for two thirds of the short season he’d have had a tough time sneaking into the lineup. With Sandy Alomar at the helm from pretty much mid-August on, you could tell there was an unwillingness to try anything weird. Plus, where was Chang going to play? The only thing the Indians could even do was field a solid infield. Literally the only places in his entire professional career that Chang has played defensively are second, third, and shortstop. Those three positions and 1B/DH are the places Cleveland had talent. Maybe he should have learned how to play left field or something.
Let’s talk about those two hits he did pile up this year though. He put just barely more than a month between them, the first coming on July 26, the second on Aug. 28. The first one was barely anything, and probably should have been an out:
That’s a lot of nothing. But he did also walk that game, so some of us were excited about Chang’s .333/.500/.333 line after one game. He didn’t get the start on the 27th and went 0-for-3 on the 28th, then would appear in all of five games from them to the 28th. He’d only bat twice, which for those of us previously hopefully he’d pan out, was a bit frustrating.
The second hit was a bit more satisfying:
A nice ringing single always works. It wasn’t a dinger, though he did drive in a run that game, as well, as the Tribe beat the tar out of the Cardinals 14-2. Chang came in in the sixth inning of that one though, so he didn’t even have the opportunity. He came in the next day in the 10th, and would play in two more games, a total of 10 innings, the rest of the year.
Look, I’m not going to sit here and say that Yu Chang should have been getting the start over José Ramírez, César Hernández, or Francisco Lindor. They are better. In a short season and with a team that was such a fringe playoff team, anyway, losing a few at-bats from your stars can hurt. This was going to be a painful season for minor leaguer development anyway, Chang might not be anything resembling a piece of the future for Cleveland, but it would have been nice to see Lindor get a day off. It’s only sixty games, but he played every single one, led the AL in plate appearances, and how many times did people talk about how gassed he looked? He had a horrible year by his standards, and even outside of baseball with all that was going on, maybe a mental health day wouldn’t have been the worst thing. Isn’t that the reason you have guys like Chang? I guess Mike Freeman was there too, but either way, what’s the point of the 28-man bench if you don’t use it sometimes?
It was a nothing season, but that was expected. We have no judgment, nothing to expect for next year, and only irrational hope to lean on for Chang’s 2021. He probably would have been better off going home and working in the batting cage, if only to refine his approach and hit the ball harder. According to scouting reports, his big thing when he was signed was his raw power. It would be nice to see him get a shot, or at least a chance somewhere for consistent at-bats, and see if that’s the case. That wasn’t going to happen this year, but what’s that thing they always say? Maybe next year, right?