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Cleveland Indians: New Acquisitions Are Paying Off
For the first time in years, the Cleveland Indians made a lot of noise during the last off-season, landing a well-respected manager (Terry Francona) and adding several key players to their roster. Travis Hafner and Shin-Soo Choo were among those who left town, going to the New York Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds, respectively. New pick-ups included Nick Swisher (from the New York Yankees), Mark Reynolds (Baltimore Orioles), Michael Bourn (Atlanta Braves), Drew Stubbs (Cincinnati Reds), Ryan Raburn (Detroit Tigers), Mike Aviles (Boston Red Sox), and Jason Giambi (Colorado Rockies).
After 27 games (through May 4th), the Indians have a 14-13 record. After a 6-game winning streak, they now lead Major League Baseball in team slugging percentage (.474), have the third highest team batting average (.275), and are fourth in homeruns (39). Their pitching staff is ranked 19th in ERA (4.10) and 21st in Bases on Balls (102), but they’ve allowed the fewest number of hits (207) and have the third lowest Batting Average Against (.232).
The following charts demonstrate the offensive performance of the Indians’ newest hitters compared to their returning hitters:
A few of these numbers speak loudly at this point. With nearly the same amount of at-bats (489 versus 457), the Indians’ eight newest hitters have twice the number of homeruns (26) as their eight returning hitters (13). The new guys are batting .286 and have a combined slugging percentage of .519, while their returning players are batting .265 and are slugging at a .427 clip. Chalk up 77 RBI and 81 runs scored for their new acquisitions, and 58 RBI and 59 runs scored for their returning players.
Good starts from Reynolds, Raburn, Bourn, and Aviles are helping to take the sting away from losing Choo and Hafner, who are also off to good starts on their new teams (Choo: .331 BA, 5 HR, 25 runs, and a 1.013 OPS; Hafner: .291 BA, 6 HR, 18 RBI, and a .999 OPS).
Carlos Santana is the clear leader among Cleveland’s returning hitters, batting .369 with five homeruns, and leading the team with a 1.114 OPS. He and Michael Brantley, however, are the only ones putting up average or above average numbers thus far in 2013.
The Indians’ offensive season has not been marked by consistency. Sheldon Ocker, a journalist for the Akron Beacon Journal, speaks of their “feast or famine approach” at this juncture. He points out “that in the club’s first 25 games, the offense scored three or fewer runs 14 times and eight or more runs seven times.”
When it comes to pitching, Cleveland’s returning pitchers have more solid numbers overall than their new acquisitions: Brian Shaw (from Arizona), Rich Hill (from Boston), Matt Albers (from Arizona), Scott Kazmir (from the Los Angeles Angels), and Brett Myers (from the Chicago White Sox). The following charts show what the newest arrivals have brought to the table, compared to the numbers put up by the returning pitchers:
The newest pitchers have a combined 5.03 ERA and have given up 16 homeruns in about 63 innings pitched, while Cleveland’s returning pitchers have a combined 3.84 ERA and have allowed 18 homeruns in 166 innings pitched. In short, three of Cleveland’s pitching pick-ups (Shaw, Hill, and Albers) are looking good, while two (Kazmir and Myers) are struggling. These five have taken the mound only about 27% of the time, however, meaning that they haven’t done too much to skew the Indians’ overall pitching numbers.
About 80% of the season is still ahead for the Tribe, but at this point Cleveland can be glad that many of their offseason pick-ups are paying off for the team.
Adam Maarschalk grew up in Canton, Ohio, and is a long-time fan of the Cleveland Indians. He has been publishing articles online since 2009.