August 26, 2014

The Diff: Reviewing stats on the surprising 2013 Indians

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote on the varying playoff odds formulations. This week, I’m revisiting many of my stats comments about the Tribe in 2013.

The Diff

Today is Sept. 25 and the Cleveland Indians have over 80 percent odds of making the American League playoffs. Yes, that’s likely as one of two Wild Card teams, but all that matters is just making it into the postseason. Dating back to the advent of the Wild Card system in 1994, home teams are only 316-271 (.538) in the playoffs. That means it’s still very much an incredible toss-up in the probable one-game playoff that would take place one week from today, regardless of location. [Read more...]

The Diff: Analyzing the struggling Cleveland Indians offense

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote a comprehensive article on all of the top Tribe prospects. Now, I’ve dissecting the mediocre Cleveland offense.

The Diff

There might not be a better time than shortly after a sleep-inducing 14-inning game to write about the Cleveland Indians’ struggling offense. After a sensationally (and perhaps, unsustainably) hot start to the season, the Tribe has been much cooler of late. The offense has been a major reason for this decline, as the starting pitching actually has been achieving some historic feats. Today, I’ll be diving deep into the stats of this offensive fall and reflecting back on some previous predictions. [Read more...]

MLB News: Mark Reynolds signs with the New York Yankees

Former Cleveland Indians first baseman/third baseman Mark Reynolds has reportedly signed with the New York Yankees.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that Reynolds chose the pinstripes over three other teams. Reynolds has hit 14 home runs against the Yankeees in 165 at-bats, the most vs any American League team. His 10 home runs against the Red Sox are his second best total against an AL club.

Reynolds provided a sub-par slash line of .215/.307/.373 with the Indians but had clubbed a team-leading 15 home runs. H e is expected to see regular time at first base for the injury-plagued Yankees while also filling in at third and in the designated hitter slot. Heyman also classifies Reynolds and “insurance” in the event that New York is forced to play without Alex Rodriguez who continues to be a lightning rod for performance-enhancing substance speculation.

The Indians designated Reynolds for assignment on August 8.

[Related: Indians 9, Twins 8: Monster comeback saves the series]

TD talking Tribe, Browns and turkey sandwiches – WFNY Podcast – 2013-08-14

WFNY Podcast LogoI couldn’t get a proper cold cuts conversation out of Brian Spaeth, so I saw an opening with TD and I grabbed it! Also, make sure you let us know what you think of the two songs I put together as potential replacements for our opening sounder.

  • The Indians collapse
  • Craig tries out two new songs as potential openers for the podcast
  • Is it good enough to just contend late in the season?
  • Do the Indians have any more free agency options in the bank?
  • Dropping the payroll to the bottom of the league in payroll
  • Asdrubal Cabrera probably won’t be in Cleveland next year
  • Where does the growth come from in Terry Francona’s second year?
  • Has Prince Fielder been a problem of a contract?
  • Asdrubal Cabrera as cleanup hitter is a joke
  • Mark Reynolds had one of the strangest seasons I’ve ever seen in my life
  • Lonnie Chisenhall and what he can become or not
  • Nick Swisher and how nobody kills him
  • Chris Perez’ time in Cleveland is just over [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Asdrubal Baerga, a tired rotation, and a Sunday game-changing comeback

Michael BournThe past seven days were well on their way to being the worst week of Tribe baseball since the days of 2009 The Bullpen From Hell Part 2. The Tigers stomped all over them for four nights and all but ended any shot the Wahoos had at overtaking them for AL Central division supremacy. There is still a Wild Card spot to contend with and plenty of baseball left to be played. The flailing Los Angeles Angels arrived in town, losers of four straight and 10 of 13. Seemed like the perfect elixir for the Indians to find themselves and get back on the winning track, right?

As we have seen all season from this group, you just don’t know which way they will turn. The post game players only meeting called by Jason Giambi after the four-game sweep was supposed to refocus them. Instead, Friday and Saturday spawned sloppy play and two bad losses sent the team spiraling to six straight losses. With the Browns preseason opener on Thursday night deemed a success, People were jumping off the Tribe bandwagon faster than you could say “Bernie Kosar is the Lord.” Nice guy manager Terry Francona was forced to go to the card he doesn’t like to play; the angry skipper.

“Basically, I was telling them how we want to play the game,” he said. “It’s not always going to be perfect, but we have to fight through frustration. That’s the kind of team we need to be. We can’t just show up. We’ve got to bring the lunch pail and find a way to be the better team.” [Read more...]

Cleveland Indians miss big on deals for Myers and Reynolds

Terry Francona, Chris AntonettiThe Cleveland Indians front office has to be nearly flawless to compete for the playoffs in any year.

If you don’t believe that proposition, just ask the Moneyball A’s or Wall Street Rays, whose innovation and knack for value propelled them to long playoff runs.

Entering 2013, the Tribe made major long-term investments on Nick Swisher (4 years, $56 million) and Michael Bourn (4 years, $48 million). Those signings alone added significant payroll for this upcoming season.

But the team also inked one-year deals with two veteran free agents expected to provide stability at key positions: right-handed pitcher Brett Myers ($7 million) and free-swinging first baseman Mark Reynolds ($6 million).

With today’s move to designate Reynolds for assignment, it’s likely neither one will play again for the Indians in 2013. They finished the year with a combined -1.7 WAR. [Read more...]

MLB News: Indians designate Mark Reynolds for assignment

Cleveland Indians first baseman Mark Reynolds has been reportedly designated for assignment.

After hitting .301 with eight home runs and 22 runs batted in for the month of April, the man who was affectionately known as “Mega Mark” has seen his production plummet, driving in just seven runs over the course of the last three months. Over the course of 26 games in June, Reynolds struck out 40 times, often looking completely lost at the plate. He was batting just .133/.246/.150 with just two run batted in since the beginning of July.

Reynolds could accept an invitation to play in Columbus with the Clippers, but odds are that he will become a free agent and test the open market. Speculation has Reynolds potentially retunring to Baltimore where he helped get the Orioles in the playoffs a season ago.

Reynolds was signed to a one-year deal this past offseason as the Indians hoped to add a right-handed power bat in the middle of their lineup. Reynolds’ production, or lack thereof, relegated him to a reserve player, playing in just 20 games over July and early August. His 15 home runs places him in a tie as the team leader for the Indians.

[Related: Tigers 6, Indians 5: Demoralizing doesn’t even describe this one]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Two of Three in Miami, bring on Detroit!

Terry FranconaThe weekend series in Miami was kind of glossed over coming in. The Indians arrived in Little Havana with an eight-game winning streak and all kinds of momentum. They knew they had the first place Detroit Tigers coming to Cleveland on Monday, and a let down against the Marlins, one of baseball’s worst teams, could have easily occurred. With the DH not in play this weekend (more on that in a little), the Tribe’s depth would be tested.

So how would they respond? Friday night’s domination by Miami’s Jose Fernandez not withstanding, the Indians took the series and showed some real grit in doing so. The bullpen stepped up big time, backing two solid starts Saturday and Sunday. Wins and losses are all that matters right now, and the Wahoos won two of three. If your team can take two out of every three, that is a .667 clip which you would LOVE and sign up for all day.

More things are becoming clear with this club and manager Terry Francona has figured out the right mix with the position players. Now if they could get that bullpen back to its old form….So before we head into this huge series with the Tigers, let us look back at the weekend that was in Wahooland. [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Brooming the Rangers out of C-Town

Ryan Raburn

Man, I love this picture.

This Cleveland Indians team is amazing. There is no pegging them. Hasn’t been since the first month of the season and their certainly isn’t as we change the calendar to August this week.  Just think, back in April the starting pitching was a serious question mark after Justin Masterson, the bullpen was still strong, and Mark Reynolds was being mentioned as an AL MVP candidate. How times have changed. All of a sudden it has become bizarro world. The starting pitching is essentially carrying the club, the bullpen is a roll of the dice on a nightly basis, and the offense is super streaky.

This weekend the Tribe caught the Texas Rangers on a slide, which was perfect timing. The Rangers have owned the Tribe for the better part of a decade. However, they won two of three in Arlington in June and were welcoming a team into Progressive Field that had lost nine of 11. With the Browns opening up training camp in Berea this past week, this was a huge series for the Indians. Lose and/or get swept, and the city’s collective eyes could move elsewhere. Win and not only stay in the playoff hunt, but keep everyone talking Tribe instead of backup offensive linemen (which people will talk about anyways).

So what did the Tribe do? Oh, just sweep the Rangers right out of town with three exciting wins, highlighted by two incredible pitching performances and a walkoff homer. [Read more...]

What To Make Of Chris Antonetti’s Recent Comments

Danny SalazarWe’ve talked extensively here at the site about the trade deadline and how it pertains to the Indians. Jon had a great piece about the different paths the Tribe could go down. TD examined the club’s greatest need, a left-handed matchup guy out of the bullpen and the options available. Now, we’re four days away from the trade deadline, and the Indians are three games out in both the AL Central and Wild Card races. With Tribe general manager Chris Antonetti making the recent media rounds, it’s pretty obvious that a few key elements keep popping up in several of these discussions with a clear plan formulated. [Read more...]

Sunday Tribe Notes: Target Field, lefty relievers and 2014 salaries

kevin correiaThis was not how the Indians front office wanted their team to begin the second half. Entering the break at 51-44 and riding a four-game winning streak, there were high hopes for the immediate future, especially with Minnesota and Seattle the first two teams on deck.

After back-to-back disheartening 3-2 losses at Target Field, the Tribe might have gotten a desperate wake-up call. In the two games, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall has two (nearly three) errors, the Cleveland bullpen has blown it both times and the Indians offense has hardly had any traction against Twins relievers.

Fortunately, the Detroit Tigers also have lost their first two games in Kansas City to start the break. But it hasn’t been pretty for the optimistic baseball fans in Cleveland. [Read more...]

WFNY Stats & Info: How bad has Mark Reynolds been?

The Indians have been a pleasant first-half surprise at 51-44. They’re on pace for 87 wins. Despite their streakiness, they’ve remained fairly close to the playoff picture through mid-July, which is far better than the collapses of the last two seasons.

But one player in particular has seen his production fall off the Earth just like Manny Acta’s Cleveland teams: first baseman Mark Reynolds. Over the season’s five weeks, he was off to an MVP-like start. Heck, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman even tweeted that exact thing on May 18th. Little did he know that Reynolds would begin a disastrous two-month stretch.

Here are the stats for the soon-to-be 30-year-old Reynolds’ career leading up to the 2013 season, and then the crazy split that occurred after the game on May 9th:

mark reynolds career stats

As I’ve said before in the comments section, Mark Reynolds’ usual production was somewhere in the middle of his hot April and insanely cold June. That’s true for his batting average, on-base percentage and strikeout numbers. The most glaring change, however, has been in the slugging.

During the offseason, when he signed with Cleveland, Reynolds was expected to come in and compete for the team lead in homers. He has 15 through 89 games, which isn’t bad. But his extra-base hit per plate appearance rate since May 10th is worse than the worst in baseball. It’s worse than Ben Revere’s career rate, and he’s never hit a home run. That’s dreadful for a strikeout-prone mediocre-defense “slugger”.

Next, I did some research on the context of how bad Reynolds has been over this nine-week stretch from May 10th through July 12th. Via Major League Baseball Advanced Media’s database dating back to 2005, here are your 10 worst qualified individual player OPS lines during that exact span of the season:

mlb worst 5-10 to 7-12 stretches

It’s a wee bit crazy to see that 2013 NL MVP favorite Yadier Molina heads this list, while Reynolds’ OPS places seventh overall and second-worst in 2013. Overall, in the last nine years, only 10 qualified players have posted an OPS of .530 or worse from May 10th through July 12th.

Certainly, many fans have been clamoring for the easily-ridiculed Reynolds to receive a little less playing time. Of the players on this chart, only 2005 Freddy Sanchez had more plate appearances (the timing of the 2013 All-Star Game is a slight factor, too). We’ll see soon if that’s the approach for manager Terry Francona or if suddenly the slugger can snap out of this funk.

[Related: Indians All-Star Break Review: The Position Players]

Indians All-Star Break Review: The Position Players

Asrubal CabreraWe have arrived at baseball’s All-Star break. The Cleveland Indians sit at 51-44, a game and a half out of first place in the AL Central. It has been quite a ride since GM Chris Antonetti hired Terry Francona to manage this club. The shot had been fired – a change in culture was about to arrive in Cleveland. We expected some changes, but nobody could have expected that this team would be as good as it has been.

Yes, they have been up and down and have the nickname “Team Streak,” but this start has a completely different feel than the last two years. This seems real.

With that said, this week we will take a look at the three aspects of the club. We opened with the starting rotation. Yesterday we examined the bullpen.

In part three, we will look at the position players.

[Read more...]

Brantley’s homers and Reynolds’ defense fuel Tribe past Royals 6-3.

Brantley HomerI know. The headline sounds like it is backwards. It isn’t.

Justin Masterson allowed plenty of baserunners early, but kept them away from scoring with timely strikeouts and a few decent defensive efforts. Two of those were excellent diving plays by Mark Reynolds at first. In the fourth inning he saved at least a pair of runs with a diving stab of a line drive. Reynolds also had a heads-up play in the ninth to double off Eric Hosmer at third.

Michael Brantley broke up a no-hitter and a shut-out with a solo homer in the fifth, but the sixth inning was when the Tribe broke through against starter Luis Mendoza.

After a Stubbs single and a Bourn walk, Mike Aviles drove a ball just over Left Fielder Alex Gordon’s glove and off the wall. Stubbs was able to score on the play, but Michael Bourn had to wait and see if Gordon caught it or not. It didn’t matter after Kipnis laid down the perfect bunt loading the bases for Carlos Santana.

Santana worked a walk scoring Bourn. Brantley then hit a sacrifice fly to left field. Aviles scored on a kind of gutsy play. Gordon has a good arm, but the Indians tested him and it paid off as his throw wasn’t exactly a laser. Mark Reynolds singled and then Raburn struck out and Chisenhall grounded out to first.

All totaled the Indians scored 3 in the inning to take a 4-2 lead. [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Wrapup: A Ode To Corey Kluber

Corey KluberCould “Team Streak” be trending upwards again? Your Cleveland Indians were a blown save away from sweeping the Washington Nationals out of Progressive Field this weekend in grand fashion. They settled for a series win, which you will take all day long especially when the opposing pitchers are Tribe killer Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, and Stephen Strasburg. They didn’t really do anything special in taking the series, but they had some exceptional individual performances, highlighted by Corey Kluber on Sunday.

The nasty part of their schedule is now behind them. The Wahoos have been cold, hot, then cold again,which makes sense when you see their 34-34 record. But with the schedule softening up considerably, do the Indians have the juice to stay with the division leading Detroit Tigers? They sit in second place, four and a half games back and over the next 16 games, they only play three against a team over .500 (Baltimore). Now is as good of a time as any to make a move.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. I spent mine with my family watching a Tribe win at Progressive Field. It was a perfect end to a perfect weekend. So let us look back at the weekend that was in Wahooland. [Read more...]

Swisher’s Shoulder Could Land Him On DL

After last night’s game where fans saw first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher rotate and move his left shoulder around uncomfortably after a fifth inning at-bat, word came after the game that Swisher’s discomfort in that shoulder could land him on the disabled list, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer.

“I’m grinding guys,” said Swisher. “I want to be in there every day regardless of what I got going on. Obviously, it’s starting to physically show a little bit.”
 
Swisher missed time earlier in the season because of shoulder soreness.
 
“I’ve been battling this shoulder thing the whole year. It’s super frustrating for me because I’ve never had something like this,” he said. “Either way, we have to figure out what is going on and then we will go from there.”

As Hoynes points out in the article, Swisher is mired in a horrific slump at this time. If he goes on the disabled list, expect Lonnie Chisenhall to make a return from Columbus, where he has been hitting the cover off the ball (.386 average, 1.128 OPS in 26 games). In that scenario, Mark Reynolds would likely become the primary first baseman. Swisher is hitting .237 with 7 homers, 24 RBI, and a OPS of .739.

Related: Tribe Rallies, Blows It On Costly Error

Rangers 6, Indians 3: Eight is enough…The streak has to be stopped

yan GomesThe Indians are in a rut. A deep rut. And it extends to every portion of the team—the offense, the defense, the starting pitching, and the bullpen. Each had a helping hand in Arlington last night as the Rangers dropped another loss on the Tribe, their eighth straight, to the tune of 6-3. Our boys only have two more chances to make sure they don’t get completely swept on this brutal trip through New York, Detroit, and Texas.

“We can’t make the big pitch, can’t get the big hit,” said  Mark Reynolds who went 0-4 with three K’s last night. “There’s really no answer for it. We just have to keep playing.”

Reynolds is one of many slumping Indians, tallying three hits with just one RBI since May 24. This slump has coincided with his shift to third base, where his defense has left a lot to be desired. Yes, he made one unbelievable play on Monday night (and was screwed by first base umpire Mark Wegner in the third) but it came an inning after a brutal error on a routine groundball. This is not to pick on the veteran Reynolds, but his play has been a microcosm of the Tribe’s skid that now has them as losers of 16 of their last 20 contests. [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Wrapup: Wahoos falling fast…can they get back up?

Michael BournLet’s get it out of the way right from the jump: Your Cleveland Indians, aka Team Streak, are in the midst of yet another June swoon. This was a team that not too long ago won 18 of 22 and led the AL Central by two and a half games. Since the miracle four-game sweep against Seattle, capped off by the Yan Gomes walkoff three-run homer on a Monday afternoon in Cleveland, the wheels have come completely off the wagon. The schedule became a lot tougher, and the Indians collectively have gone into a gigantic slump. The 4-15 stretch has been book-ended by two sweeps from the team they are fighting for the division lead, the Detroit Tigers.

It has been Murphy’s Law time for Terry Francona’s crew. Whatever could go wrong, has gone wrong.

“When it rains, it pours,” said slumping first baseman Nick Swisher. “We’ve got to just keep going out there and battling every day, man. This is a long season. Hopefully, we’ll look back at this stretch in August and September and kind of laugh at it all. That’s it, man. It just boils down to winning a ballgame. That’s it.” [Read more...]

Carlos Santana and Mark Reynolds are third in AL All-Star voting at their positions

Major League Baseball released the first update for All-Star balloting. Two Indians placed among the leaders at their respective positions.

Catcher Carlos Santana is third in the voting with 547,873 votes, trailing first place vote getter Joe Mauer (863,450) and Baltimore’s Matt Wieters (715,055).

Mark Reynolds (452,708) is also third at designated hitter, trailing David Ortiz (1,045,283) and Texas’ Lance Berkman (672,547).

Voting can be done online at MLB.com or at the ballpark.

Detroit manager Jim Leyland will be the coach of this year’s AL squad. Perhaps that bodes well for the Indians, who have had success against the Tigers this year. It seems unlikely that any of the team will be voted in by the fans, which means the reserve spots will be selected by Leyland and the fan vote for the last player in.

[Related: Indians fans still soaked from Friday night]

While We’re Waiting… All baseball talk, all the time

“While We’re Waiting” serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Anytime FanGraphs writes about positive things in the Tribe organization, I’m thrilled. With this, I’m bouncing-off-the-walls ecstatic: “In 2013, the 27-year-old Santana might be becoming the superstar that some envisioned when he was a prospect. Despite having a poor May at the plate, his overall season line still stands at .294/.396/.503 (147 wRC+, second-best among qualified catchers, just behind Joe Mauer‘s 148). While it is still early, after 202 plate appearances, Santana’s better performance seems to be based primarily on two things: the return of his pre-2012 power, and a significantly higher BABIP. One or both may be an early-season blip, but there are at least some signs that Santana has made some important and perhaps long-term improvements.” [Matt Klaasen/FanGraphs] [Read more...]