Tribe defense has been historically bad thus far

swisher_2014-04-05

Sure, the Cleveland Indians aren’t exactly tearing the cover off of the ball on a nightly basis, but they aren’t exactly catching it either. FanGraphs, who has been very kind to the Tribe thus far through 2014, penned another entry that wasn’t all too glowing. The topic du jour: Defense, or severe lack thereof.

As run stopping has grown just as important as run producing, the Cleveland Indians are struggling mightily with the latter. FanGraphs, who breaks defensive opportunities into percentiles of likelihood to be made, shows that the Tribe is not just struggling with the unlikely plays, they’re blowing their opportunities to make the routine ones as well.

If you look at the 90%-100% ones, you’ll notice that 12 teams have converted 98 percent or more of those plays. 17 more have turned at least 96.0 percent of “the easy ones” into outs. And all alone at 94.4 percent, and dead last in DRS, are the Cleveland Indians. […]

You can already see how it’s hurting the Cleveland pitching staff. They have the second–best strikeout rate in baseball, and the third-lowest homer rate. They’re not immune to blame — they’re walking way too many — but they’re being saddled with a .331 BABIP that is not only the highest in baseball, but would be tied for the second-highest in the last century with a 96-loss 2007 Tampa Bay team that primarily had B.J. Upton and Brendan Harris as double play partners, behind only a 1930 Phillies team that lost 102 games and played in one of the most offense-friendly seasons ever.

Oof. The struggles have not been limited to just one area of the team. We already discussed Nyjer Morgan’s early issues with regard to stopping runs. David Murphy has been tagged with three runs himself despite being a part of a platoon. Nick Swisher has been tagged with three runs, large in part to his two gaffes in a win over the San Diego Padres. Jason Kipnis has dropped easy pop-ups, failing to convert on three “easy” plays. Yan Gomes has been tossing baseballs all over creation. Michael Brantley’s errorless streak has ended. I could go on…

As Mike Petriello writes, with the AL Central slated to be a dogfight once again, the Indians can’t afford to be helping out their opponents. The way their defense has played so far, they’re making it much harder on themselves than it needs to be.

  • Harv 21

    Just eyeballing it, looks like a a particularly bad stretch that won’t last. Maybe the cold, or that weird baseball contagiousness. One thing I don’t like: Kipnis has made some really careless plays, hope he’s not come to the end of his defensive learning curve due to satisfaction with the big contract. One thing I do like: Gomes may be throwing crazy but he’s not throwing scared; his sins are of commission. Easy son, you can’t throw out two guys at a time. You deserve your money, act like you belong, not like a guy who worries he’s a poseur about to be outed.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    So would this be a cock-eyed observation or hope?

  • Harv 21

    kinda the opposite. Gomes was pretty dang good last year, Swisher has decent at first, Kipnis was making the easy plays the last two years, and Bourn is getting his sea legs back. I did like Drew Stubbs defensively (a lot) but don’t remember this year’s right fielders costing us games Maybe they’ll be worse defensively this year, but it’s cockeyed to decide that after just 3 weeks, no?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I can only live in the present homey but I agree three weeks does not make a season but those same advanced stats I see people constantly promoting here benefiting the Indians say they stink defensively. Lets hope it turns around otherwise it won’t help a starting rotation that has been less then stellar.

    Which reminds me…Aaaron Harang 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K in a no-decision victory for Atlanta today. I know I know it was against Miami yadda yadda yadda.

  • mgbode

    I hope Tito prints this out and puts it inside every single locker. He can even highlight the words Historically Bad for effect.

  • The_Real_Shamrock