A Look Back: Tribe hitting through May, Part 2

During the first review of Tribe hitting in May, found here, I covered the top of the Indians ever changing lineup. This included Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Santana, Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore. This review will cover the rest of the Indians hitters including Orlando Cabrera, Matt LaPorta, Jack Hannahan, Travis Buck, Austin Kearns, Shelley Duncan, Lou Marson, Adam Everett and Ezequiel Carrera.

Orlando Cabrera

Orlando Cabrera has been one of the Indians most consistent hitters throughout the first two months of the season. His consist hitting has been around .250, but he has not had long streaks of either hot or cold play. Orlando is a known quantity. He will get one single out every four at bats and makes very few outs on the base paths (only two during May, while taking 8 extra bases). He is the perfect placeholder both in the field and in the lineup while Indians patiently wait for the debut of either Jason Kipnis or Cord Phelps.

Matt LaPorta

Mike already wrote an article about Matt LaPorta explaining his disappointing first couple of years as an Indian, available here. LaPorta hit only .240 during May, the second lowest of any starter. He did hit two home runs and knock in 11, pretty good numbers compared to the rest of the team, but bad numbers when compared to what he can potentially do. LaPorta has hit longer home runs than just about any other Indian and he had a slugging percent of .400, better than all but 4 other Indians. This is pretty good for the number 7 or 8 hitter. The problem with that is that LaPorta should be a number 4 through number 6 hitter. Since the Indians have no other option at first base, LaPorta will have plenty of time to prove himself as a true power hitter.

Jack Hannahan

The Supermanahan moniker has been put on hold for the time being as Jack Hannahan absolutely fell apart in May. While he was one of the biggest surprises on the Indians during April, hitting .273 with 4 home runs, 14 RBI and 14 runs. He did all this hitting 9th. During May, there was a drastic drop off. Hannahan hit .184 with no home runs and only 3 RBI. This is closer to what was expected from the defensive specialist before the season started and he is lucky he played well in April rather than May, because there is no way he would still be on the Indians if he performed like he did in May during the first month of the season. Early on Jack was playing so well that when the original projected third baseman, Jason Donald returned from injury, he was sent to AAA rather than called up to replace Hannahan. Hannahan lacks the consistency of Orlando and the lack of position depth of LaPorta. This means he will almost certainly be replaced if he continues this type of play, either by Donald or by upcoming phenom Lonnie Chisenhall.

Travis Buck, Austin Kearns & Ezequiel Carrera

Travis Buck is like a slightly better version of Austin Kearns. Both of them started on the roster this season, because Grady Sizemore was injured and remain on the roster now due to Travis Hafner’s injury. Buck had 2 more hits than Kearns during April and 1 more hit during May. He also knocked in a couple more runs during that time than Kearns. Somehow during this time Kearns has played in more games than Buck, giving Buck a higher batting average (over 100 points higher in April, 5 points higher in May). While filling in for Hafner and Sizemore they have not really impressed, hitting .260 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI between the two of them in 23 games over the month of May. One of these two will obviously be sent down when Hafner returns in a couple weeks and it will likely be whoever is playing worse at that moment in time. Ezequiel Carrera only played in 5 games for the Indians in May, when both Hafner and Grady were out at the same time. He was involved in a few very exciting plays, but it is impossible to do any real evaluation of his play in such a small time.

Shelley Duncan

The other player who has taken up some of the slack left at DH is Shelley Duncan. Duncan has rediculous power (he was only the 15th player ever to hit a ball into the 5th deck at Rogers Centre in Toronto) and has been extremely proficient as a pinch hitter this season. The problem with Duncan is that the mammoth home run he hit in Toronto was his only home run of May. Duncan’s slugging percent of .310 in May is embarrassingly low, only surpassed by Hannahan for worst on the team among players with more than 25 at bats. Duncan also only hit one home run in April, but he had two more total hits in almost half as many at bats, leading to a drop in batting average from .370 to .190. This may show that Duncan is actually better at pinch hitting and limited duty than he is at starting every day. If this is true, he will fit perfectly back with the team when Hafner gets back and he can go back to pinch hitting and giving days off to Hafner, LaPorta and Carlos Santana. In an extremely small sample size Shelley Duncan has hit .667/.714/1.000 with 2 doubles and 7 RBI. Of course these numbers are insignificant and there are usually more RBI opportunities during pinch hit situations, but Duncan should get a chance to continue in this role to see if he can keep it up.

Adam Everett & Lou Marson

During May, Marson and Everett had only 44 combined at bats. While Buck, Kearns and Duncan have had a ton of chances with Sizemore and Hafner’s injuries, Marson and Everett have been kept out of play due to the durability of the Indians infield. Asdrubal has yet to miss a game this season and Orlando has only taken 2 days off through May. Jack Hannahan has had the most time off out of the positions that Everett plays and he has only missed 7 games. The majority of Everett’s games played have been as a pinch runner or defensive replacement. Even though he has been used in this quality, he only has one steal on the season. Everett has hit for a high average (.293), but has yet to have an extra-base hit. It is unfair to look at Everett from an offensive standpoint since that is not his main job on the team, but it still comes into play and it will be interesting to see what will happen with him during the inevitable call-ups of Chisenall and either Phelps or Kipnis.

Lou Marson has been as utilized as little as Everett, as the only position he can play is catcher, and Carlos Santana rarely even takes half a day off to play first base or DH. Marson has shown bursts of excellence, mostly in April when he hit .250/.321/.375 with 5 RBI in 7 games, but has dropped off as of late, hitting .167/.200/.250 in May with only 1 RBI in 8 games. This may be partially because of his limited playing time. Some catchers excel with the back-up catcher job, and fail when used daily, like Kelly Shoppach and Einar Diaz in recent Indians history and some catchers can only play well if given at bats every day. During Spring Training Marson was able to play almost daily, playing only 2 less games than Santana and it is possible that the regular playing time helped him during the month of April (5 of his 6 best games this year were his first 5 games of the season). Hopefully he can adjust to playing once week and play like he did during April, but if he can’t I’m sure Luke Carlin would much rather play one game a week for Cleveland than 5 games a week for Columbus.

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since its inception in 2011. He also writes for The Outside Corner and the Comeback and hosts the Tribe Time Now podcast. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians. Follow on twitter @BurningRiverBB