The Indians finished off the month of July in magnificent fashion and are in prime striking distance of both the AL Central crown and the second wild card. As the season comes around, the rankings become much less volatile as the numbers add up, making each hit a smaller percentage of the entire season. For the second month in a row, a player was sent down the minors the day before the end of the month. This time, the victim was Vinnie Pestano, who will be included on the Power Rankings instead of Marc Rzepczynski who has only been in Cleveland for a day.
1. Jason Kipnis Above (0)
For the second month in a row Kipnis and Masterson remain ranked first and second in the Indians Player Power Rankings. Despite some defensive set backs this month, Kipnis remains the top player on the team at hitting, base running and fielding. After passing Reynolds in home runs, Kipnis now leads all Indians in runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, steals, average, OBP and SLG. He plays a prime position in the field for the Tribe and bats in the most important position in the lineup. There is none greater on the Tribe than the dirt ball.
2. Justin Masterson Even (0)
Masterson is the Indians ace and obviously their top pitcher as well. The All-Star break along with being pushed back in the rotation has limited the number of starts recorded by Masterson in July, but not his effectiveness. He is still on pace to possibly win 20 games this year, but will have to win eight of his last 12 starts. It may be tempting for Terry Francona to push Masterson up in the rotation using off days, but he seems to have learned that Masterson needs as much rest as possible between starts. The All-Star break was a great example of this as he had the longest time off this season between starts and threw six no hit innings when he got back on the mound.
3. Corey Kluber Above (+2)
Kluber used July to cement himself in the rotation as the number two pitcher. He has held opponents to less than three runs per nine innings over the month and has struck out 110 batters on the year. The Indians have went 5-1 behind Kluber this month as he always gives the Tribe a chance to win when he is on the mound. In fact, the only game the Indians lost last month that Kluber started was a 2-3 loss against the Twins when Kluber pitched six shut out innings.
4. Michael Brantley Above (+5)
A strong July has moved Brantley back into the top five where he should have been all season. Amazingly, the usually powerless Brantley is second on the team in RBI and hits in 2013. He has also been the Indians top outfielder defensively as his reduction in responsibility has allowed him to focus on a smaller part of the outfield, making sure nothing that is in the air will ever hit the ground. He has also been able to showcase his fantastic arm as he leads the American League in assists with nine.
5. Cody Allen Above (-1)
Allen is coming off his worst month of the year, that was still better than almost every other relief pitcher in the world. In the season as a whole, Allen leads all Indians relievers with a 2.68 while being second in innings pitched (44). Including starters, Allen ranks fifth on the team in strike outs, possibly his most impressive stat.
6. Chris Perez Above (+13)
For the first time in a long time, Chris Perez is the best relief pitcher in the bull pen. During July, Perez allowed just a single run while pitching over 15 innings. He also is a perfect 8-8 in save opportunities, more than half of his saves on the season. He has even been able to pitch in a few non-save situations without blowing up, earning himself a win as well.
7. Carlos Santana Even (-4)
Santana remains a consistent power presence in the middle of the Indians lineup and is one of five Indians hitters with at least 10 home runs. Santana also maintains his good eye and is currently ranking second in the AL in walks and seventh in OBP.
8. Matt Albers Below (-4)
Albers continues to be the pitcher the Indians though Bryan Shaw would be when they made the Shin-Soo Choo trade. Albers has been dependable all year, but has fallen off a little in July. Since he has not been used in difficult situations, however this is not that big of a deal. Albers is sole reliever who provides the depth in an Indians pen that has struggled at times this year.
9. Asdrubal Cabrera Below (+3)
Cabrera has been surprisingly productive this season and July was exceptional as he came in second on the team with 14 RBI. If the Indians short stop can continue his current pace, this could be his second best season of his career (after 2011)
10. Scott Kazmir Above (+10)
Kazmir continued his progress with his best month of the year. He lead all starters in games, innings pitched and WHIP while posting a 2.75 ERA and allowing just a single home run. Just a month ago people were talking about all the moves the Indians would have to make at the trade deadline to fix their rotation and Kazmir, more than anyone else, has made those people eat their shoes.
11. Ubaldo Jimenez Above (-3)
Jimenez's last start of the month was his best as he shut out the Rangers through eight innings. All the Indians starters have played well in July, but Jimenez saw the biggest improvement, dropping his ERA from 4.67 to 4.17, his lowest of the season. Even with all his improvements, he is still ranked second to last on the rankings with McAllister trailing him, only due to lack of innings.
12. Joe Smith Below (-6)
Everything fell apart for Smith in July, following in the footsteps of Pestano and Perez who had struggled in the previous months. This time, Smith allowed 7 runs in 8 innings, struck out just one and allowed hitters to reach base at a .344 clip. Despite this, Smith still carries an ERA just over 3.25 and a .232 BAA on the season. It is possible his failures, and those of the bullpen as a whole, have come from the lack of depth provided by the starting rotation as they often come out of games prior to the sixth inning. Since the starting pitcher turn around, the bullpen has been much improved as well.
13. Zach McAllister Even (New)
McAllister just made two starts in July after returning from the DL, where he had spent two months because of a blister on his finger that made it impossible to throw his curve ball. The curve is back and and McAllister has started right were he left off, throwing 12 innings in his two games, keeping opposing offenses down with a 3.75 ERA. The success of the starting rotation as a whole is obvious by the location of all five starters within the top 13 players.
14. Nick Swisher Below (+1)
Swisher lead all Indians with three home runs in July, but somehow only knocked in four total runs. He has seen some success since being bumped into the two hole, but he remains the weakest part of the top of the Indians offense. The change in line up position has allowed him to come to the plate with a more opposite field approach, helping him reach base a little more successfully.
15. Michael Bourn Even (-5)
Bourn has switched things around this month and become a power hitter, forgoing his speed. On the base paths he has been caught more times than stolen successfully, but with at the plate he has knocked in a team high 18 runs (more than half his total from the season) and hit two home runs (half of those as well)
16. Mark Reynolds Below (-9)
Reynolds has finally fallen off the cliff he has been reaching for through the past three months. He had been hanging around in the top 10 each month until now due to his spectacular April. The proof is in the slugging percent as Reynolds slugged .651 in April, .386 in May, .253 in June and just .104 in July. In a larger view, since the beginning of June he has just six RBI and two home runs. He has also struck out 61 times, raising his total count on the season to 117 after having things in check in April with just 22. He has been taken out of the every day starting role already and it is yet to be seen if further steps will be taken. The whole situation is disappointing as he could be the main cog in the Indians offense for the rest of the year.
17. Drew Stubbs Even (+4)
Stubbs has seen a decrease in playing time now that everyone is healthy, but is still doing his best to provide high level defense and base running. Stubbs remains the only runner with more than three steals who has yet to be caught, adding another three in July.
18. Ryan Raburn Above (-2)
If Stubbs saw a decrease in playing time, Raburn and Aviles have almost disappeared. This has actually been good for Raburn who has raised his level of play again after two months of sub-par offense, despite starting in right field over a large stretch of time. In just eight games in July, Raburn batted .321 with five extra base hits and six runs scored.
19. Mike Aviles Above (-5)
Aviles has been pulled out of his starting capacity, but has still found ways back into games as a reserve player. The decrease in at bats has helped him hit over .300 for the month. He has also been far above average defensively at both third base and short stop.
20. Lonnie Chisenhall Above (+3)
While still plagued with some defensive struggles, Chisenhall's offense has returned since he arrived back from AAA. Even at the bottom of the lineup, Lonnie has still been a big part of the offense, knocking in eight and ranking second on the team with four doubles during July. His average could still use some work, but it no longer resembles the .182 he hit in May.
21. Bryan Shaw Below (-8)
Shaw didn't pitch much in July, but still managed to blow two saves and give up four runs in seven innings. Luckily for Shaw, he is under team control for a few more years and is still bounds better than Hill, so he doesn't face much risk of removal from the bullpen at this point.
22. Yan Gomes Below (-5)
Gomes didn't play much in July, but has still remained a rock steady back-up catcher. In fact, he has been so good that Terry Francona is talking about using him more as a starting catcher with Santana playing first or DH. With the struggles of Reynolds (and with him leaving after this season) this is seeming like a real possibility. There is no question that defensively Gomes is a superior catcher to Santana. Gomes has caught 11 of 20 attempted stealers while Santana has thrown out just six of 49.
23. Vinnie Pestano Below (-5)
Pestano's statistics are very similar to Shaw on the year and the month, but he has been slightly more successful in tight situations with two holds in July to add to his six saves accrued during the rest the season. Chances are decent that Chris Perez will not be with the Indians next season and will definitely be gone by 2015, so Pestano will need to step things up now, or his chance at closing will be stolen away from him by the young phenom, Allen.
24. Rich Hill Below (0)
Rich Hill has been better than his average this month, posting an ERA above 5.00 in 11 games. He has improved in keeping inherited runners from scoring and has held batters to less than one hit every ten at bats, despite the lofty ERA. He remains the weak spot in the bullpen, however, and should be the first to be replaced if any changes are made.
25. Jason Giambi Below (0)
Giambi was having another dreadful month as the back-up DH for the Tribe until he won a game against the White Sox during the final week of July. The pinch-hit, walk-off home run doubled his runs scored and extra base hits for the month and brought his season average to .194. He remains the weakest part of the Indians team, but if he can make it through one more month on the roster, expanded rosters will guarantee being able to stay around for the rest of the season. If he is on a potential play-off roster, he could be the Indians Kirk Gibson, so there's always that to look forward to.
Excluded: Marc Rzepczynski
No Longer With Us
Nick Hagadone Even
Joe Martinez Even
Danny Salazar Above
Preston Guilmet Even
Carlos Carrasco Below
C.C. Lee Even
Jason Kipnis maintains his top spot for the second month in a row.
Art courtesy of RareInk