#TBT: Remember when the Cleveland Indians could score runs?
Remember that time the Cleveland Indians could score runs?
No, no. It wasn’t this year. And it hasn’t been for quite some time. Think back 16 years. It was 1999, a year in which the Tribe surpassed the 1,000-run plateau, becoming just the 16th team in league history to topple the mark and just the first in the modern era.
The Indians have scored just 44 runs through 14 games this season, good for 28th in the league – behind only the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies. They are averaging just over three runs per game and boast a team batting average of .220.
In other words: Yikes!
As the Tribe takes a day off – and hopefully rediscovers their bats – we are celebrating Throwback Thursday with a look at what it was like in 1999 when all the Indians did was score runs.
In a star-studded lineup that featured Jim Thome and Kenny Lofton, the Indians fielded five players who touched home more than 100 times that season. They collected 1,629 hits, hit 209 home runs and batted .289 as a team. The ’99 Indians hit .304/.379/.514 as a team in the first month of the season, wrapping up April with a 16-6 record. That team was shut out three times the entire season, scoring 6.2 runs per game and finishing with a 97-65 record. At their worst, the Tribe hit .274 in the last month-and-a-half of the season, squandering a 2-0 advantage to lose their AL Division Series matchup with Boston.
See, there was a time when the Tribe could hit.
But that was the beginning of the end to an exciting era of Cleveland Indians baseball. By the following offseason, Cleveland had lost two of its marquee players – Manny Ramirez and David Justice – and was on their way out of serious contention.
This year’s team has looked lost through much of the first 14 games. Jason Kipnis and his .224 average leads qualified players, as the team has posted a combined .220/.282/.337 slash-line in the early going. They are averaging just over three runs per contest and have already been shut out on two separate occasions. They’re 5-9 with seven games remaining in April, including a looming weekend series in the Motor City.
It hasn’t been pretty for the Indians through the first three weeks of the season, but this is just the beginning for this team. Not only is it 14 games into a season with high expectations, it is 14 games into the first of a 4-6 year window for this team to legitimately compete.
Remember that before you start holding anyone’s feet to the fire this early.