June 2014 Player Power Rankings

The Indians started off June in impressive fashion, taking a six game winning streak through the first week. After getting back to within two games of the Central Division lead on June 10th, things went back the other way for the Tribe, going 6-12 and moving back into third place. As far as the Power Rankings go, things have stayed in a similar order with the top offensive performers (Brantley and Chisenhall) remaining on top and the bottom (Raburn and Swisher) staying at the bottom. On the pitching side, things haven’t been so good as the strike outs have fallen off, with the Rays surpassing the Indians for first in the AL as the Tribe has dropped from top five to bottom five in ERA as well.

For reference, here are the Power Rankings from March, April and May.

1. Michael Brantley Above (0)
April was about Murphy with the May focus on Chisenhall and Kluber. June has seen the resurgence of Santana and all the while, Brantley has been the best player on the Cleveland Indians. He has quietly lead the Indians in home runs (12), RBI (53), steals (9 with 0 CS) and is second in league in outfield assists (9) showing how he earns the moniker Dr. Smooth.

2. Corey Kluber Above (0)
Considered the Indians top pitcher after a great May, Kluber was unable to keep up his historic pace, but was still the Tribe’s best starter in June. He ended the month with a very impressive 127 strike outs, tied for fifth in the AL. He also leads all Indians starters in ERA and innings pitched and along with the player listed above, should be one of two Indians representatives in the 2014 All Star Game.

3. Lonnie Chisenhall Above (+1)
As the season progresses, Chisenhall’s hot start is beginning to look less like a fluke and more like the maturation of a prospect who was once considered one of the best young power hitters in the country. He is just shy of qualifying for the batting title and would be leading for said title with a .345 average. This month he has continued that success, knocking in a team high 21 runs and batting .322. The overall weakness of the Indians lineup is made obvious when you see that Chisenhall now ranks third on the team with 36 RBI after missing almost all of April with poor managerial decisions.

4. Cody Allen Above (+9)
Allen cemented his role as the Indians closer in June, saving all four chances and allowing just two runs in 11.1 innings. In the month he has been truly superb, with an opponent batting average of .086 while striking out 15. For the season, Allen leads all Indians relievers in strike outs (44), ERA (2.60) and BAA (.200), but still trails Axford with seven saves in eight appearances.

5. Bryan Shaw Below (0)
Over use may have taken it’s toll on Shaw, who has allowed a 6.52 ERA in June after a 0.71 in May. With this, his appearances have fallen off as four relievers have made more appearances than Shaw this past month after he was the most used reliever early in the season. He is also the only Indians pitcher to walk more than he has struck out (7 to 6). With Crockett, Pestano and Carrasco playing well of late, it is possible Terry Francona will give Shaw a little bit more of a break than he has.

6. Josh Tomlin Even (+1)
Tomlin saved his best for last this month as he dominated the Mariners with his first career complete game shut out and he did so in one hit fashion. While this was far superior to any other start this season, it fit in line with his tendency to throw strikes and keep hitters off balance. While this doesn’t always work, it has allowed him to keep ahead of hitters and become a steady force in the Indians rotation.

7. Asdrubal Cabrera Even (+4)
Cabrera has been one of the Tribe’s most productive power hitters this month, ranking fourth on the team in slugging (.427) with four home runs as well, but has not been as solid as the Indians would have liked otherwise. The Indians need a positive offensive performance from Cabrera, not just for their own success in the current season, but also because they will most likely look to trade him before the deadline. As of right now, his .245 average and far below average defense are not making him a very attractive option.

8. Yan Gomes Below (-2)
While Gomes has been unimpressive at the plate for the most part, one part of his game that has improved of late is his defense. After committing six errors in his first 17 games and nine in his first 28, he has made just one in his last 39 games and caught 12 of 29 prospective base stealers. In his first 28 games, he caught just six of 24. The primary reason Gomes was signed long term prior to the season was his defense, so if he can continue like this, even with the worst case scenario he will still be a valuable asset to the Tribe.

9. Carlos Santana Above (New)
Santana played just 22 games in June after coming back from the concussion DL and has batted .308 with six home runs, 15 walks and 15 RBI, but was not the Indians best player in June as Brantley takes that honor. He has used this hot stretch to finally get ahead of .200 and now sits at .205, still higher than Swisher and Raburn for the season. On the year, he is now tied for the team lead with 12 home runs and is one of five players to have knocked in at least 30 runs this year as he moves to become the productive, middle of the lineup slugger that the Indians need him to be.

10. Scott Atchison Below (-2)
Like Shaw, Atchison has been dealing with effects of overuse and some regression after a fantastic and unexpected start to the year. Atchison’s age may be of some concern, but his low energy, efficient style of pitching may be enough to keep him around all season. Almost all his struggles have come from giving up too many hits, but he hasn’t given up free base runners or extra base hits, so his results (4.22 ERA) look worse than his actual performance.

11. David Murphy Below (-8)
After a good start to the year, Murphy has fallen in the Power Rankings each of the past two months. He has batted just .185 in June and with it, his run production has fallen off as well. After being the top run producer in April, just seven this month has allowed Brantley to gain a huge lead on the rest of the team and Chisenhall to surpass him, despite 40 less at bats.

12. Marc Rzepczynski Below (+2)
A common thread in this Power Rankings is relievers numbers falling off after over use early in the season. Rzepcyznski is the penultimate case of these, leading the AL in appearances including a team leading 13 in June. While he doesn’t pitch as many innings per appearance as many other relievers, getting warmed up every day and pitching every other has lead to a 5.59 ERA in June, raising his season ERA to 3.99. The advent of Crockett may remove some strain from the lefty, which will be important if the Indians are to make use of him late in the year.

13. Michael Bourn Below (-4)
Expectations come into view when considering Bourn’s June as he would have been a fantastic 7, 8 or 9 hitter, but was a below average lead-off man. His OBP of .304 in June leaves much to be desired, but his three triples lead the team and gives him seven on the season, good for second in the AL. His speed does appear to be returning as he stole three bases without being caught last month (far superior to his four for six to start the year), but if he can’t get on base more often, he shouldn’t be a lead-off hitter.

14. Trevor Bauer Below (+3)
Bauer is finally getting a real chance to get used to playing at the Major League level and he is doing what most players in his situation do. While he hasn’t been anywhere near light’s out (.308 BAA), he has been very impressive in his tenacity. Twice in the final weeks of the month, Bauer threw at least 110 pitches as he threw more innings per game than any other Indians’ pitcher in June. It is undoubtable that as he gets more time to play with the Indians, his ERA will continue to drop and, if given the opportunity, he should be a quality number two or three starter in 2015.

15. Jason Kipnis Below (0)
Injuries and regression have knocked Kipnis down a peg after posting an amazing 2013 season and looking to make another All-Star game this year. With that out of the question now, Kipnis needs to focus on getting back to average. He hasn’t hit a home run since he hit three in April and has just nine RBI and 24 hits this month, despite being second on the team in at bats. He was placed directly in the clean up role after returning from the DL and it is possible that he wasn’t ready, although he was needed.

16. Mike Aviles Below (-6)
Aviles had a great May when he was starting every day, but since the returns of Kipnis, Santana and Swisher have pushed him back to the bench he has been mired in a month long slump. His .195 average for June would be a huge red flag, but the Indians have two hitters with lower averages and more at bats in Swisher and Murphy. Of course, with all the starters healthy, his bat is not as important as his glove, which is still solid at second, short and third.

17. John Axford Below (+1)
Axford has been solid in middle relief since his removal from the closers role, although he did blow his one save opportunity against Arizona. He has struck out 14 in 10 June innings and allowed four runs. The one number to take note of was his seven walks as this lack of control will likely keep him away from critical situations as much as Allen’s success will.

18. Justin Masterson Below (-2)
Like Cabrera, Masterson is in his contract year, but unlike Cabrera, he has done very little to impress his possible free agent suitors or the Indians. He has easily been the Indians worst starter this season, including part timers, in a year he was supposed to be the dominant ace. This month, he has been at his worst, posting a 4.56 ERA before ultimately missing his final start of the month with a knee injury. As always, he shows signs of greatness, but walking 17 in 25 innings is not going to help anyone win.

19. Carlos Carrasco Above (0)
Carrasco has been great out of the bullpen this year (1.91 ERA), but has been even better in June, posting a 1.26 ERA, better than every other Indians pitcher with at least two innings pitched. There is little question that Carrasco has found his permanent home as the extra couple MPH on his fastball and his great sinker allow him to dominate in the late innings. His ability to pitch multiple innings still comes in handy in extra inning situations and he earned his first career save this month, pitching over two innings in the process.

20. T.J House Even (+2)
House made four starts in June, his most recent coming against Seattle when he was recalled from AAA to fill in for an injured Masterson. The rookie left hander has posted a 4.54 ERA so far this year in six starts, striking out 22 in 33.2 innings. While he has been useful in the fill in role, he has shown little to prove he will be a big part of the rotation in the future. For the moment, however, he is the best option for the Indians fifth starter, at least until Zach McAllister and Danny Salazar are ready and able to return.

21. Kyle Crockett Above (New)
Crockett is a new addition to the Indians bullpen after being sent back down to AAA after his first turn with the team earlier this year. He was the primary reason Josh Outman was DFA’d as Crockett can get both right and left handed hitters out, despite pitching with his left arm. He has excelled against lefties this year, holding them to a .208 BAA and walking just one in 6.2 innings. Overall, he has been solid as well, allowing a 2.61 ERA in 10.1 IP.

22. Nick Swisher Below (New)
Swisher has done something pretty impressive in June. He has struck out 21 times in 49 at bats with just two walks and six hits, all but one of which have went for extra bases. He won two games in extra innings in a week with game leading and walk-off home runs, but much more common has been him striking out with runners in scoring position during the first nine innings. With the resurgence of Santana, the emergence of Chisenhall and the solid play of Gomes, there is no longer any room for Swisher in the line-up for a team that wants to win, making him a $15M bench player or the most hated person in Cleveland, not that those things are mutually exclusive.

23. Ryan Raburn Below (-2)
The Indians initially signed Raburn largely due to his bad luck season in 2012 with expectations that he would increase his BABIP in 2013. He did and they lucked out, but things have changed back. This year his BABIP has dropped back down to .262 and his batting average has followed down to a .203. If he was signed to that same minor league deal of a year ago, Raburn would likely have been released by now, replaced by a younger player like Jose Ramirez, but instead, he is owed $2.5M this year with an option for 2015, so the Indians will have to see this through or lose a lot of money.

24. George Kottaras Above (-4)
Kottaras has done everything he possibly could have as the Indians back-up catcher, but simply doesn’t have enough at bats to pass players who have been horrific, like Swisher and Raburn, in the rankings. The fact is, if the Indians thought he could keep up his .353/.455/.882 rate stats, he would have been made used as a DH at least part time, but he has been unused other than in the rare opportunity to spell Gomes.

25. Vinnie Pestano Above (New)
Pestano’s 8.31 season ERA is not going to impress many and like Kottaras, his playing time has been so insignificant as to not merit much thought, but there have been some positives. Since his recall, Pestano has made four appearances and allowed just a single hit while striking out two in 1.2 innings. He was given almost no shot his first time with the team, throwing just 2.2 innings and giving up four runs before being given a quick demotion. That move looks even more hasty now as he has gotten right back to his old form.

No Longer With Us

DL
Jason Giambi Below

AAA
Zach McAllister DNP
Nick Hagadone Below
Jesus Aguilar DNP
Mark Lowe Below

DFA
Josh Outman Below

Joseph Coblitz

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 the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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