Sep 24, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Brantley (23) runs after doubling in the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s be conservative and assume Michael Brantley has the same season but hits another six or seven homers, getting him to 27 along with a .327/.385/.525(approximate based on shoddy math) slash line. Those numbers top those of the just-paid Cruz and Brantley is five years younger. And mobile in the outfield. Once he hit free agency the Yankees would drop a Brinks truck on him and he’d be worth it. The Indians would be priced out and lose all their players. But that also means these guys are worth more in trade. The Indians could flip them early, get better prospects and get them into the “hit more home runs” philosophy that would soon creep throughout the farm system. Even when they lose they win.
Flying in the face of this brilliant scheme is that the two teams that played in the World Series were squads sans power. The San Francisco Giants play in a massive sea of grass by the Bay and ride pitching to success along with some timely line drives. The Kansas City Royals will try every day of the week to bunt for extra bases and find home runs distasteful to their Midwestern sensibilities. To waste all that rawhide by throwing it into those fountains beyond the wall is unseemly. Based on their love of barbecue you know they squeeze all they can out of every bit of every resource. Neither of these teams adhered to this potentially brilliant dinger strategy, yet half of them won a championship. Does this delegitimize my scheme? I say no. If either had hit more homers, they would have been even better champions. One of them anyway.
For years offenses in baseball have been stagnating while pitching and defense have dominated. You know what the defense can’t stop? Home runs. You know what pitching hates? That’s right, home runs. Succeeding as a small market team means the Indians have to think differently, act differently. If they can just hit way more home runs than any other team, there’s a great chance they can be, well, great. No less than Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver was fully committed to the three run homer as a method of offense. If you take those teachings and imbue a tweaked Oriole Way type of philosophy into the Cleveland system it will pay Madoff level dividends, without the eventual bust. One would hope anyway. It’s a scheme man, one the Indians should try if they want to win.