Before we start digging into the Indians, let’s get a couple things out of the way. Kansas City, Cincinnati, Baltimore and the Chicago White Sox are horrible teams. Whether they are rebuilding, tanking or still in the teardown phase, it doesn’t matter, they stink.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are far and away the worst wager in the majors. They have any number of underachieving players up and down their roster. However, they were without their best hitter for nearly a quarter of the season with Justin Turner sidelined and on April 30th, their second-best hitter, Corey Seager, was found to need Tommy John surgery and was lost for the season. Add in Clayton Kershaw and other pitching injuries and at least there are reasons.
The Cleveland Indians, what’s there excuse for being below .500 as of May 19th and only being bailed out by being in baseball’s most dreadful division? Nothing really, other than themselves.
On the surface, there is nothing radically wrong with the Tribe. They are seventh in the big leagues in scoring (4.8 RPG) and actually have a lineup capable of more. When and if Jason Kipnes, Edwin Encarnacion, and Yonder Alonso start to hit (all three have batting averages under .225 and on-base percentages under .300), Cleveland should be at or above 5.0 runs per game.
In spite of not having a couple of arms they were counting on like Danny Salazar, the starting pitching ERA is second in the American League and they are also second in OBP and WHIP. Indians starters have conceded the fourth-most home runs in the AL, but as the rest of the numbers suggest, that has not hurt them too badly.
One of my favorite numbers is run differential and with Terry Francona’s team at +19 (as of 5/19), that is comparable with Milwaukee, Arizona and the L.A.A. Angels, all who are at least five games over .500. So that is the real problem, the bullpen.