April 2013: Player Power Rankings

Things haven't been quite as expected so far this year and multiple players have moved at least ten places from the preseason Power Rankings. In general, comparing this ranking to the preseason predictions we see that the bullpen as a unit has been fantastic as well as two (or three) starting pitchers, while the majority of the offense has fallen behind. The "Above," "Even" and "Below" remarks reference how the individual player has performed during the current month compared to their preseason expectations. This is why Jason Giambi batting is rated at "Even" while Jason Kipnis is rated "Below."  The rankings themselves show each players importance to the team to this point. The +/- number given after the rating tells the difference between the players current rank and their preseason position.

1. Carlos Santana Above (+1)

If you picked one player to lead the league in batting average before the season started, you may have picked Brantley or Bourne or even Kipnis, but the fact is, Carlos Santana leads all of Major League Baseball in batting average at .389. Everyone knew that Santana was going to be an integral part of the middle of this Indians lineup, but with the top of the lineup struggling, Santana has been the shining star.

2. Justin Masterson Above (+2)

Masterson started the season amazing, holding an ERA of under 2.00 until his final start of the month. The Indians took advantage of off-days and rain outs to use their ace as often as possible with him making six starts in April. He started 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA in his first three games, before falling back towards the norm and ending the month with a 3.12 ERA. He still remains the teams ace and the number one pitcher the Indians want on the mound in any situation as he always give the Indians a chance to win.

3. Mark Reynolds Above (+4)

With Bourne and Myers hurt and Swisher flailing, Reynolds has been by far the Indians best offseason pick-up. His 8 home runs are tied for third in the AL and easily lead the Indians. He also leads his team with 22 RBI and 17 runs scored. Even his negatives haven't been as bad as advertised to this point as he hasn't struck out too much and is batting a very respectable .301. Even defensively he has been impressive, especially since he was supposed to be the DH, but has been thrown into the first baseman's role following the Bourne injury.

4. Zach McAllister Above (+10)

McAllister has been the Indians second best starting pitcher, making him the second most important pitcher overall. He has thrown 30 innings this year and allowed just just 11 earned runs, the least of any starter. He gives the Indians a very fair chance to win every time out, which is all a team can ask from their fourth starter.

5. Nick Swisher Even (-2)

Swisher has yet to earn his big paycheck, but still has the majority of four seasons to do so. The fact is that Swisher was vastly overrated coming into the season after signing his large contract and is actually playing at the level he should be expected to. He has only knocked in 9 runs, but this is largely because of the inefficiencies of the players batting ahead of him. Instead, Swisher has been getting on base a lot (leading the team with 15 walks) in front of Reynolds and Santana, leading him to score more often than may have been expected.

6. Corey Kluber Above (New)

Kluber has done something this month that Brett Myers, Scott Kazmir, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer have been unable to do this season, which is make a quality start. After pitching the final four innings in relief in Kazmir's second start, Kluber started a game of his own and was magnificent. In three appearances he has thrown 12 innings and struck out 11, allowing just three runs. He seems to be the odd man out with Bauer scheduled to rejoin the rotation, but he is definitely not the worst pitcher on the team.

7. Joe Smith Above (+8)

Smith has to be considered the top reliever to this point as he is the only Indians pitcher yet to give up a run. He has only pitched 8 innings, mostly because of his role as the early right handed match-up man in close games. When the Indians have had close games, they have been able to go straight to Pestano and Perez and they don't like to use Smith in blowouts. He has struck out 9 batters and allowed a BAA of just .154 in his limited use.

8. Bryan Shaw Above (+12)

Shaw has probably been the top reliever in the Indians pen, giving up just a single run in more than ten innings with 13 strike outs. As a new member, the Indians didn't know what to expect from Shaw, but he has proven to be one of their greatest assets. He should now be trusted in any situation he is needed in. 

9. Chris Perez Even (+1)

The Indians closer has mostly been held back by a lack of opportunities. He has pitched in 8 games, but only had four chances at saves, one of which he blew. His ERA (1.13) and BAA  (.179) are more than respectable and his one blown save was a one run affair that the Indians ended up winning in extra innings.

10. Cody Allen Above (+6)

Allen has been used in a very different role so far this year, mostly as a long reliever in already decided games rather than as a match-up man. He has been fantastic in this role, and has currently pitched more innings (11) and struck out more batters (15) than any other pure reliever. He has allowed three runs, which leads to a higher ERA (2.38) than most of the bullpen, but chances are the others will come up to meet him at some point.

11. Vinnie Pestano Even (-2)

Pestano has been the Indians top reliever for the past two seasons, so it is surprising to see him this low on the rankings, but the bullpen as a whole has been an incredibly efficient unit and each of the players from 6 through 11 could be in just about any order.

12. Michael Brantley Below (-6)

Brantley was originially slated to bat later in the lineup, after the group of power hitters of Reynolds, Swisher and Santana. In this position he struggled, batting .282 in 11 games with just a single extra basee hit. When Michael Bourn went down, Brantley was moved into the lead-off spot and in the 11 games since he has batted .298 with five extra base hits. Even more impressive, he has knocked in seven runs from the lead-off spot when he only knocked in two from a more RBI friendly position.

13. Mike Aviles Even (+6)

Aviles has been exactly as advertised. He has been very versatile, playing three different infield positions and producing offensively despite not playing regularly. He was especially impressive at short stop while Cabrera missed a few days after falling on his wrist.

14. Nick Hagadone Even (New)

Hagadone was originally slated to be the teams left handed match-up man, but a good Spring by Hill moved him to more of a general role and Kazmir's injury forced him to start the year in Columbus. Since his return, Hagadone has been excellent, facing both righties and lefties, although he has been better against the left handers. He has yet to give up a hit against a left handed batter, although he has walked three.

15. Lonnie Chisenhall Below (-4)

Lonnie is playing his first full season in Cleveland and has been seeing some struggles that he probably should have been allowed to play through two years ago. He has had some positives this season especially on defense, where he has been better than thought in the minors and with his power stroke as he has hit three home runs already this year, placing him third on the Indians in home runs.

16. Drew Stubbs Below (-3)

Stubbs came to the Indians as a lead-off hitter and a centerfielder and was immediately turned into a number nine hitter and a right fielder. Defensively, he took to the change superbly, but offensively he leaves more to be desired. He currently leads the team in strike outs (not a big surprise), but has shown little of the power that comes with it. He has just four extra base hits, compared to Bourn who had seven in less than half as many games. As a bottom of the lineup hitter, there is no real pressure on Stubbs to perform and he will still be an asset to the team as a light hitting valuable defensive player, but with as weak as the Indians lineup has been, they can use help from anyone.

17. Rich Hill Even (+5)

As the second left handed reliever on the team, Hill hasn't thrown very many innings, being used as a one hitter pitcher most of the time. Hill has thrown just 4.2 innings in seven appearances. Hill has done his job as well as could be asked and having a second left hander in the bullpen has made Terry Francona's job easier on multiple occasions.

18. Asdrubal Cabrera Below (-10)

Cabrera has been firing up a little of late, but still has not played up to expectations for this month. In fact, combined with the failures of the next player listed as well, he can be blamed as the number one reason that the Indians have had trouble scoring. Their struggles and Terry Francona's insistance to keep them at the top of the lineup have made it very difficult for the sluggers batting behind them to knock in runs.

19. Jason Kipnis Below (-18)

Kipnis has been, by far, the most disappointing player on the Indians to this point. While his defense has maintained, he has struggled on offense and has been in a very important place in the top of the lineup. Despite batting either second or third in every game this year, he only has scored three times, a product of his .260 OBP. If this continues, the Indians will need to drop him in the lineup, possibly after the return of Bourn.

20. Yan Gomes Even (New)

Gomes has only played a few games for the Tribe this year, filling in whenever Lou Marson gets an owie. Despite playing in just 7 games, he already has hit two home runs and two triples. He also called one of Jimenez's best games this year, showing he can work with even the most difficult pitcher.

21. Ryan Raburn Even (+2)

Much like many other players on the roster, Raburn was thrown into a much increased role with the team after the Bourn injury. Raburn has been the default right fielder when Swisher has stayed at first base. The increase in playing time may have benefited Raburn in recent days as he just had his best game of the month, hitting two home runs and knocking in four of his 8 RBI in one game against the Royals (and 7 of the 8 in the Indians past two games). It seems to be between Raburn and Giambi as far as who will be released when Bourn comes back and Raburn's versatility and recent power streak could make the difference.

22. Matt Albers Below (0)

Albers missed considerable time due to a family emergency and his six games pitched are the least of any reliever. He is also the worst as far as ERA goes, allowing more than four runs per nine innings. He has pitched better in the past, and may return to form with a return to regular appearances out of the bullpen. Even going into the season he was considered the weakest link in the bullpen and remains to be the first man out if the Indians decide to bring up the next Cody Allen (aka Preston Guilmet).

23. Jason Giambi Even (New)

Giambi has done exactly what everyone expected this year. He has pinch hit some and played DH with Bourn out. During that time he has hit two mammoth home runs and popped out 11 times in 28 at bats (he has also struck out six times). He is a perfect pinch hitter as he is capable of hitting a home run at any second and will probably stay around until the Indians want to bring up one of their young sluggers, like Mike McDade or Jesus Aguilar.

24. Scott Kazmir Below (New)

Kazmir was initially supposed to be the Indians fifth starter, but ended up hitting the DL before he made his first start. Since returning, he has made two starts, thrown just over 8 innings and allowed 8 runs. This is easily explained by his 13 hits allowed (and three home runs) more than any other pitcher with less than 20 innings pitched. With Myers on the DL and Jimenez struggling, Kazmir is likely to remain in the rotation until he figures things out.

25.Ubaldo Jimenez Below (-8)

Only misguided optimism allowed me to originally rank Jimenez above the level where he is currently residing as the absolute worst player on the Cleveland Indians. This doesn't cope well with the fact that he remains the Indians number two starter. His last start to end the month was great, but last season he had similar starts surrounded by awful outings.

No Longer With Us
Carlos Santana1 15 Day DL

Michael Bourn Above
Brett Myers Below
Lou Marson Below

AAA Columbus

Carlos Carrasco Below
Omir Santos Even
Trevor Bauer Below
Cord Phelps Even
Fernando Nieve DNP
Scott Barnes Below

 

 

 

 

Carlos Santana:  Top Player on the Indians and in the AL.

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona.

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