This is a new segment that may be recurring on a monthly basis. Basically I will be ranking the Indians players by importance to the team with notes to whether they are exceeding expectations, meeting them or falling behind. I will also include their most important stat and why it is so.
Travis Hafner Above
.450 OBP: Although his batting average has dropped a little over the last week (.295), Pronk is still second in the AL in OBP. His excellence in this, the all-mightiest of basic stats, makes him top offensive player on the team.
Derek Lowe Above
4 Wins: Lowe’s greatest ability is that he can keep a team in the game. The Indians have rewarded his ability by giving him a league leading 4 wins through April. Lowe has certainly been the best surprise on the Indians so far this year.
Jason Kipnis Even
20 Games Played: Kipnis hasn’t been the best offensive player statistically, but by being solid defensively and on the base-paths, he has become a steady point for this team to base itself around. He has played every game this season for the Indians at second base.
Jack Hannahan Above
14 RBI: Hannahan has been Mr. Clutch this year, knocking in the most runs on the team and doing so from the bottom half of the lineup. This is probably because the Indians lead off hitters don’t get on base as much as their middle of the lineup hitters, but I’ll try not to take all the credit away from Jack.
Jeanmar Gomez Above
.161 BAA: There isn’t one stat you can use to describe Jeanmar’s performance this year as they are all fantastic. He has done exactly what was asked of him, from the bullpen or as a starter, on short or long rest. He has not allowed hits, walks or runs scored and has struck out 13 in 15.1 innings.
Carlos Santana Even
18 Walks: This total ranks him second in the league, right above Travis Hafner. His ability to get on base by other means makes it a lot easier to accept a .262 batting average.
Justin Masterson Below
6 IP per game: Where is the Indians ace who had a chance to go the full 9 every five days last season? Masterson has been hit like crazy this year, giving up almost a hit per inning in addition to the 17 batters he’s walked. His turn around is the single most important thing the Indians need for this baseball team to be successful.
Asdrubal Cabrera Even
10 Extra Bases: This is one of the stats I keep on my own and I believe it is even more important than stolen bases, because it brings greater reward to the team with less risk. His 11/13 on extra base attempts (extra bases + steals / extra bases + outs on the base paths) makes him the best base runner on the team this season.
Josh Tomlin Even
3 Walks: Every pitcher on the staff who was in Cleveland all month has walked more batters than Tomlin (except Pestano). This includes relievers who have only pitched 7 innings, while Tomlin pitched over 20. Josh is a control freak and be remain successful as long as he remains one.
Vinnie Pestano Above
8 Inherited Runners Stranded: Pestano leads the team in runners stranded by other pitchers as he has continued from where he left off last year. His job as holder is just as important as Perez’s as closer and is usually more difficult as Pure Rage gets to come in with nobody on base.
Michael Brantley Below (but rising)
6 Doubles: Brantley has made a huge comeback after hitting below .200 for the first three weeks of the season and is now sitting at .250. He has also taken over the team lead in doubles. As he gets on base and into scoring position more, it will only increase the potential of Hafner and Santana.
Joe Smith Above
1.74 ERA: Smith leads Indians relievers in ERA and least amount of credit given. There is no question anymore of whether he is one of the top three coming out of the Tribe bullpen. The question is “is he the top one?” While Perez gets the glory and Pestano gets the love, don’t forget about the lowly side armer, who destroys evething that gets in his path.
Ubaldo Jimenez Below
14 Walks: As a power pitcher, you should never walk more batters than you strike out, but Jimenez has come up with Fausto Carmona syndrome as he has only struck out 13 batters. He will need to start missing some bats if he wants to maintain his #2 spot in the rotation and will need to find his control if he still wants a job in professional baseball.
Chris Perez Even
7 Saves: Perez is tied for the league lead in saves as he is doing his job extremely well. He is paid to close out games, no matter how he does it and he has only failed once so far this season.
Shin-Soo Choo Below
.697 OPS: For those who don’t know, great players usually have an OPS of 1.000+. Bad players, like Kotchman, have one around .500. Choo’s OPS is embarassing for him and the only way to fix it is to start hitting for some power. Choo has walked a fair amount this season (10), but has yet to hit a home run or triple. Hopefully when he returns from his injury in May, he will find his power stroke.
Shelley Duncan Below
.344 SLG: The Indians have 5 players hitting above .400 slugging even though they didn’t hit a home run the last week plus in April. Duncan is not one of them, but should be. The only powerful right handed bat in the lineup is being out hit by Kipnis and Hannahan among others. He will probably be pushed back into a pinch-hitting role with the acquisition of Johnny Damon.
Jason Donald Even
5 Runs: You may say that 5 runs scored in nothing, there are guys on the team with double that, but Donald has only been on base 8 times. He also has two steals and is yet to be caught, making him extremely productive when he does get on base. He has already played 4 positions for the Tribe this year as well, the perfect definition of a utility man.
Aaron Cunningham Below
2 RBI: Cunningham has mostly been used as a late inning defensive replacement, but also has started in right field for Choo during his injury. Through that time he has managed to get 37 at bats, but has produced as close to nothing as possible. He has a total of 9 hits and his 2 RBI came in back to back games. It is almost a surety that Cunningham will not be on the team the next time I write one of these.
Tony Sipp Below
5 Holds: Sipp has done just about the absolute minimum to get his job done at this point in the season. With young stud Nick Hagadone on the roster now, his job as left handed specialist may be in jeopardy.
Casey Kotchman Below
.149 Batting Average: This guy was in the top ten in hitting in 2011 (Currently is second to last in AL). Kotchman’s absolute lack of success is inexplicable. All the Indians can do at the moment is drop him to the bottom of the lineup, enjoy his solid defense and wait for Beau Mills.
Dan Wheeler Below
4/8 Inherited Runners Scored: Wheeler has been very predictable when he comes in from the pen with runners on. He will let them score. He has really hurt Manny Acta’s strategy of taking out a starting pitcher extremely early in the game.
Nick Hagadone Above
0.69 WHIP: Even though his sample size is small, his numbers are impressive as he has struck out 5 batters in 4.1 innings and has only allowed 3 base runners and one run to score. Hagadone belongs in the “Bullpen Mafia” and will hopefully never have to put on a Clippers uniform again.
Jose Lopez Below
1 Home run: This home run is pretty much the only thing Lopez has done this year. He has 3 RBI in 5 games and his .190 batting average in limited time makes him next on the chopping block if the Indians want to bring up someone else/Lonnie Chisenhall.
Lou Marson Even
3 Games Played: How can you judge a player with only 3 games under his belt. This is actually a great number as it means Carlos Santana is playing every day and at the position that he brings the most value to. Marson needs to be ready down the line, later in the season as fatigue hits Santana and he can’t play behind the plate every day.
Jairo Asencio Below
0 Options: Asencio has the worst batting average against on the team and the second worst ERA (7.15). He has allowed more runs, hits and walks than any pitchers on the staff except 4 of the five starters even though he has pitched in less than half the innings those pitchers have. He does not deserve to be on a Major League roster.
Out: Rafael Perez (DL) Even
.143 BA (Against righties) .231 BA (Against lefties): So much for matching up. Did we learn nothing from Money Ball? It doesn’t matter what hand you throw with. Get used to Hagadone, Cleveland.
Those are my rankings and assessments. I dare you to tell me I’m wrong. @BRBBlog on Twitter.