The Indians had a generally positive month of August (17-9-1) and they did so despite being the fourth worst team in the Majors in terms of runs scored (just 3.7 per game). In order to win 65.4% of their games, the Indians pitching staff has had to have been fantastic and was even better. The team’s 2.40 staff ERA is the best in all of baseball for August, largely because the starting rotation has finally calmed down. After switching out starters almost every single time through the rotation, things have stayed the same for most of August with five pitchers actually being deserving of the role.
Going along with this, almost every single pitcher played at a level greater than expected as almost every hitter did the opposite. There is never much movement in the rankings as we reach the tail end of the season, but there has been some shuffling at the top as some hitters have struggled more than others. To compare with previous months, here are the rankings from July, June, May and April.
1. Corey Kluber Above (+1)
Brantley has sat in the top spot on the Power Rankings for the past four months, but the champion has been unseated by possibly the greatest pitcher in the American League. Kluber’s numbers have been amazing on a whole different level compared to the rest of the team. In August he has posted a 2.10 ERA with 43 strike outs in 34.1 innings, holding batters to a .227 BAA, adding to his already impressive 2.52 season ERA with 213 strike outs in 192.2 innings.
2. Michael Brantley Even (-1)
A .286/.327/.467 line with three home runs, ten doubles and 19 RBI is a pretty good month, in fact, the best of any Indians hitter in August, but Brantley lost his top spot due to the fact that Kluber has been almost perfect in every single outing. On the season, Brantley is still the greatest hitter on the team as well, with an average 17 points higher than the next best, 20 more RBI and 25 more runs scored. If he can continue this hot streak for one more month, he will likely be considered in the MVP consideration as well as for a Gold Glove and possibly a Silver Slugger.
3. Yan Gomes Above (+2)
Gomes has been the second best offensive performer on the Indians all year batting .291/.329/.480 and sitting third on the team in home runs (17) and RBI (54) and this month, he has been even better, batting .349/.369/.540 with 9 RBI. Gomes missed time for the first time this year when was placed on the 7 Day DL with a concussion, showing the team how important he is both offensively and defensively.
4. Cody Allen Above (+3)
Allen has been almost perfect as a closer for the Tribe, saving 18 of 20 games and posting an ERA of 1.80. His .189 BAA is the best among Indians regulars as does his 11.9 K/9. With the Indians struggles, Allen hasn’t had many save opportunities this month, allowing two earned runs in 14.1 innings while striking out 19. He did allow a home run as part of an inning with four unearned runs, but two errors saved him from the damage to his ERA.
5. Carlos Carrasco Above (+6)
The biggest change in Carrasco this month has been his transition from the bullpen back into the rotation and he has been magnificent. He didn’t allow a run in his first two starts and gave up just one in his third, leading to a 1.82 in 29.2 August innings. Despite Kluber, Carrasco may have been the Indians most dominant of the month with a .179 BAA and 0.78 WHIP.
6. Bryan Shaw Above (+1)
Shaw remains the Indians top reliever against right handers (.159 BAA), but he has been used a lot more than that. In August, he lead all relievers with 16.1 innings pitched and allowed just one earned run while striking out 12. He was used mostly in important points, adding another five holds to his team high 18 with just one blown last month. With the past month, Shaw continues to lead all Major League relievers in appearances with 68.
7. Carlos Santana Below (-1)
Santana still has the lowest average on the team (thanks to Nick Swisher’s year ending injury) and although he has batted just .208 again in August, he is still one of the Indians biggest offensive producers. His ability to walk has been the biggest part of this and he has added another 21 this month pushing his OBP 150 points higher than his average. On the season, he leads the team in home runs (22), walks (94) and is second in RBI (65).
8. Lonnie Chisenhall Below (-5)
It took a long time for Chisenhall’s lofty batting average that sat near .375 for much of the first two months to fall, but it certainly has now, sitting at .294. In the preseason ranks, he was expected to be the Indians 15th best player, so his fall to eighth after spending three months in third shouldn’t be a surprise. Offensively, his numbers (.294/.358/.457) still look pretty good for the year and if he can improve his defense, he could easily be a productive member on the team for years to come.
9. Scott Atchison Above (+1)
Atchison was given a one year extension with a one year option earlier in August, so he has obviously had a positive effect on the Indians bullpen this year. To this point, he holds a 2.73 ERA in 62.2 innings with a .215 BAA overall. This month, he has been much of the same with 2.30 ERA and .228 BAA while leading the team with three wins.
10. Jason Kipnis Even (-1)
With the return of Bourn to the lead-off spot, Kipnis has been moved down to fifth in the order, yet he has retained his “lead-off” abilities rather than becoming a run producer. He lead the team in runs scored (15) and steals (5) for August, but had very poor slugging percent (.306) and knocked in five runs all month. Kipnis definitely seems like more of the prototypical lead-off man, but until Terry Francona dispels his unfounded love of veterans, Kipnis will likely continue to play out of position.
11. Michael Bourn Even (New)
Bourn has missed two large chunks of the season with hamstring injuries, but appears to finally be healthy. Since his most recent return from the DL, he has 14 hits in 14 games with four RBI. While run production numbers are generally unimportant for a lead-off hitter, Bourn has been inexplicably good in RBI situations, batting .294 with runners in scoring position, compared to his overall average of .264. With two outs and runners in scoring position, he has been even better, batting .355 leading to 27 total RBI on the season.
12. Trevor Bauer Even (-4)
With injuries and inconsistency racking the Indians rotation, Bauer has actually been the Indians second most used starter at just 124 innings pitched. He has also been the second best pitcher of the full time starters, giving the Indians a little bit of strength following Kluber. In August, the rest of the rotation finally caught up and has been great, but Bauer has stayed the same, posting a 3.34 ERA, striking out 35 in 35 innings. His one problem remains his lack of control as he has walked 20 this month and 51 on the season.
13. Marc Rzepczynski Above (+3)
Rzepczynski was a little less than expected in May and June due to overuse, so Terry Francona has reduced his frequency and Rzepczynski has gotten back to his normal self. He pitched in just 11 games in August, for 5 innings, but struck out five and didn’t allow an earned run. With three left handers in an eight man bullpen, the Indians can afford to use Rzepczynski in the manner he is most effective, exclusively against left handed batters.
12. Mike Aviles Below (0)
Aviles continued this month to be an above average reserve player and a below average starter. Late in the month, Ramirez took the reigns as the starting short stop, despite Aviles being given another chance to start directly after the Asdrubal Cabrera trade. Outside of Dickerson, Aviles .564 OPS is the worst on the Indians in August. While he has been solid at short stop, he has very limited range and he is still a below average third baseman as well, so he isn’t a good fit at each position long term.
15. Josh Tomlin Even (New)
Tomlin has exchanged places with Carrasco, joining the bullpen earlier this month after making 16 starts. This month, he has made two starts and pitched in seven games total for 15.2 innings and an ERA of 4.02. While these numbers are acceptable, he is already getting lost in an eight man bullpen and is likely to pitch even less often in September with expanded rosters. The Indians will have to make another decision on Tomlin as he reaches his second year of arbitration in 2015 and that will be even harder to make if he doesn’t pitch this year.
16. Nick Hagadone Above (+6)
Hagadone has been one of the top Indians relievers in August, one of two who did not give up a single run. In 8.2 innings, he has allowed just five base runners and struck out 10 as he continues the be dominant in any role used, from left handed match-up man to long reliever. Although he has only pitched 19 innings this season, he now ranks number one on the Indians in ERA (1.37) and WHIP (0.81)
17. Kyle Crockett Even (0)
Crockett has allowed a couple runs this month, but in general he has still been fantastic. He pitched just 6.2 innings in August and has thrown just 24 for the season creating a large barrier between him and the players above, just in terms of actual production based on use. This month he did gain one spot, but only because three Indians are no longer with the team, Nick Swisher, David Murphy and John Axford.
18. T.J. House Above ()
House never projected as much of a Major League starter while throwing in the minors, but has pitched like one in the past month. He threw 28 innings in five starts, giving the Indians a sense of security in the back of the rotation that had been missing in the earlier months. He allowed just nine runs and struck out 26 with an ERA of 2.89.
19. Danny Salazar Above (-1)
Salazar has been brilliant in five starts since coming back from AAA last month, posting a 2.77 ERA with 23 strike outs in 26 innings. His command of the strike zone has returned and he is getting swings and misses at a rate more consistent with his 2013 season. Of the eight pitchers used as starters, he has been fourth most dominant on a game by game basis, but considering all games, House has been slightly better, being able to avoid the big loss a little better than Salazar.
20. C.C. Lee Above (New)
Lee has made a few mistakes this season and may be the weakest part of the current Indians bullpen, but he is still a pitcher any team would be glad to have. He has struck out 21 batters in 22 innings this year with a fair ERA of 3.27. He has allowed just 29 base runners, but that has equated to eight runs due to a penchant for allowing extra base hits (his .430 SLG is the second worst on the Indians bullpen behind Tomlin).
21. Zach Walters Even (New)
Walters is a very unique type of player that has not been seen on the Indians since Russell Branyon and Richie Sexson in the early 2000′s. In his first month with the team, Walters leads the Indians in home runs (6 with the next best being three) in August and is worst among regulars (with at least 50 at bats) with a .175 batting average. He also strikes out at a greater rate than any other player on the team (23 in 63 at bats) and almost never walks (3). At the moment, he remains a fan favorite because each of his home runs has come at a critical time, but unless he can increase his OBP, he will not fulfill his role as middle of the lineup DH very well.
23. Roberto Perez Above (+1)
The injury to Gomes thrust Perez into a starting role and he has stepped up into it, batting .250 with a three doubles. Perez has also caught 40% of base stealers, leaving a small gap in defense despite the rookie back-up moving into the starters role. The fact that the Indians had to trade for a third catcher when Gomes was injured shows how shallow the minor league system is behind the plate, so there is a good chance Perez will need to be Gomes back up for a long time. That is a good thing.
24. Jose Ramirez Above (+1)
Ramirez started the season off poorly, but has found a more consistent role since the trade of Asdrubal Cabrera. As more of a regular starter, Ramirez has batted .301 and brought a level of defense to the short stop position that hasn’t been seen since Cabrera’s first few seasons there. While Ramirez is not considered a permanent fit at the short stop position thanks to Francisco Lindor sitting in AAA, a strong finish to this year could allow him to be the starter in 2015 and a Aviles type super utility man after that.
24. Chris Dickerson Below (-3)
Dickerson had been a solid help for the Indians, especially on defense during a time of great difficulty for the Tribe when Nyjer Morgan, Bourn, Murphy, Swisher, Ryan Raburn and Brantley all dealt with injuries. Now, it is a different situation. With the addition of Walters, Holt and Bourn, Dickerson and his .149 AVG in August are no longer needed. In September, when rosters expand, he will likely get pushed further down the depth chart, but could still be a useful pinch runner or defensive replacement.
25. Tyler Holt Above (New)
Holt does not have the power of Walters, but may be the most exciting young player on the team. He has batted .313 and played incredible defense at whatever outfield position he was needed at on a particular day. As mentioned with Dickerson, Holt is essentially an advanced version of the same player and should be getting more of his playing time as the season ends.
No Longer With Us
Nick Swisher Below (Out for Season)
David Murphy Above (15 Day DL)
Ryan Raburn Below (15 Day DL)
Chris Gimenez DNP (Paternity List)
Austin Adams Above
John Axford Below