Early in the Major League Baseball season, it is very easy for teams like the Cleveland Indians to get off to slow starts and want to ignore major issues with their teams. However in the case of the Indians’ offense, a little light should be going off in the head of manager Terry Francona about his ball club.
On Saturday afternoon, the Cleveland Indians were shutout for the third time in this young 2014 season. Now, being shutout will happen from time to time but it was the manner in which the Indians were shutout that was cause for the most concern—as their lineup generated just four hits off rejuvenated 35-year old pitcher, Mark Buehrle. The offensive production was so paltry that at one point in the game I looked at my buddy in the stands and said, this team is not going to score a run today—that was in the second inning.
Most people try to not get wrapped up in early season stats, but it is hard not to with this team. The Indians are No. 18 in all of baseball in runs scored, No. 21 in batting average and No. 24 in slugging percentage. What is even more telling of how bad this offense is right now is the fact they are No. 7 in on base percentage, which is in direct correlation to being No. 3 in MLB in walks. Simply put, the Indians are not taking advantage of the situation when they are getting runners on base.
Right now it is difficult to present a clear picture of what exactly needs to happen to get this team on track, as pretty much every key component from a year ago—aside from Michael Brantley (.284)—is struggling to hit the ball. Yan Gomes is batting .245, Jason Kipnis .230, Asdrubal Cabrera .215, Ryan Raburn .205, Nick Swisher .181, Carlos Santana .145 and Michael Bourn (in less time) is hitting an atrocious .118. What is even more mind boggling is the fact the Indians sent Nyjer Morgan to the minors to make room for Bourn when was hitting .348.
There have been a few bright spots for the Indians lineup this year though, as Lonnie Chisenhall has gotten off to a nice start with a .448 batting average in eight games. Also, free agent acquisition David Murphy has bounced back nicely from his first couple games of the year, as he is hitting .288 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 15 games. Utility man Mike Aviles has also been hitting the ball well in his 12 games with a .270 batting average.
Unfortunately while those three have done very well, the Indians lineup as a whole has been very disappointing this season—and none of them are going to drastically alter the outcome of a baseball game. Though Chisenhall missed a few games due to the birth of his child, the Indians need to find a way to get him in the lineup more, even if this means Santana or Swisher ride the pine for a few games. Outside of leading the team in batting average, he is tied with Cabrera for the team lead in doubles with five.
While trying to remain optimistic about the 2014 season, it is difficult to get excited about a team that just cannot hit for power—or hit at all for that matter. And with the likes of Kansas City (No. 5 in pitching) and San Francisco (No. 7 in pitching) on deck for the next seven games, the cold bats of the Indians may not find a way to get warm any time soon.