Cleveland Indians: Who’s hot? Who’s not? after Week 8

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The Cleveland Indians are out of last place, folks.

You have to start somewhere. After a potentially disastrous start to the 2015 season, the Tribe stumbled their way through the first month of the season and found themselves in the cellar of the best division in baseball.

Now 7-3 over their last 10 contests, the Indians are the hottest team in the division not named the Minnesota Twins. They’re just three games back of the Detroit Tigers and 6.5 out of the division lead heading into another week of baseball — and they’ll draw the second-place Kansas City Royals right out of the shoot.

Let’s take a look at who’s hot and who’s not after the eighth week of the season:

May 29, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Cleveland Indians center fielder

Michael Bourn

(24) laughs during batting practice before a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s hot?

Ryan Raburn 

While I might stop short of calling Raburn the key to the Tribe’s offense, there is no denying the impact the veteran right-hander has made this season. He has absolutely torched left-handed pitching this season, combining with David Murphy to produce a surprisingly efficient platoon situation at designated hitter and left field. Raburn has 23 hits in 68 at-bats (.338) against southpaws while clubbing three home runs and 10 doubles. Manager Terry Francona has been outstanding at putting Raburn in a position to succeed and limited the right-hander’s at-bats to just 10 against right-handed pitching. This week, Raburn led the way offensively – again – batting .357/.400/1.000 in 14 at-bats. He hit two home runs, a double and a triple in another productive week of games for the Tribe. 

Michael Bourn

Francona has been rewarded tremendously by what was the single most impactful personnel decision in baseball over the first two months. While Jason Kipnis annihilates pitching from both sides of the rubber, Bourn has quietly put together an incredibly productive last few weeks. Hitting just .180 through fifteen games in the leadoff spot, Bourn has been an important spark at the bottom of the Tribe’s lineup over the last six weeks. He, too, posted a higher average than Kipnis last week, hitting .350/.364/.400. While his ability to drive the ball into the gaps has been seemingly sapped, Bourn has been a crucial part of an improving Tribe offense.

Nick Hagadone

The Indians have watched their once-dominate bullpen struggle tremendously off and on throughout the first two months of the season. While Scott Atchison, Zach McAllister and the like have posted impressive week-long performances, the group as a whole has been disappointing. This week, the Tribe’s young lefty was absolutely untouchable. He was called upon in several crucial late-inning situations and delivered every time. In five innings last week, Hagadone allowed just one run – albeit a game-losing home run – and delivered on four huge strikeouts. He, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen have all seemingly come around and seem to be reforming that dynamic bullpen we saw a year ago – at least we hope so.

Jason Kipnis

There wasn’t a better hitter in baseball in the month of May. Per TribeVibe, here is a list of his final numbers in May:

  • 51 hits
  • .429 average
  • 22 extra-base hits
  • 30 runs
  • 16 walks
  • 15 doubles
  • .511 OBP

Kipnis led all of baseball in hits, batting average and on-base percentage through the month and became the first play since 2005 (Jimmy Rollins) to post 50-plus hits and 30-plus runs in one month. His 51 hits are the most in any month since Roberto Alomar in 2000 and he, combined with Corey Kluber’s 60 strikeouts in May, became the second duo in MLB history to have 50 hits and 60 strikeouts per STATS. He joins an exclusive class of players to have put together that kind of month.

May 19, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Cleveland Indians designated hitter

Nick Swisher

(33) waits in the batters box against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s not?

Mike Aviles

Aviles has always been a streaky hitter. He’s a hot or cold – no in between – type of guy and this week, unfortunately, the veteran utility man was ice cold. He hit a team-worst .105/.150/.255 in 19 at-bats and made a couple unfortunate errors in the field. The Indians are still struggling to get some production from the shortstop position, so Aviles will continue to get his chances. He is still hitting .276 on the season but, given his streaky nature, that number will fluctuate drastically throughout the season. Last week, it just happened to go down.

Yan Gomes

It’s nothing to be concerned about. Gomes is still getting his legs under him this season and he has yet to show the slightest sign of the dynamic catcher he was last season. Hitting just .200 last week, Gomes struck out four times and his season average still sits well below the Mendoza line at .154. It is still early in Gomes’s season, as he’s only played in 10 total games, but he’s hit just one extra-base hit and contributed a lone RBI thus far. Raburn has been the lone right-handed bat carrying the load for the Tribe and they need a significant effort from Gomes at the plate to help transform this offense from inconsistent to dependable.

Nick Swisher

Full disclosure: Nobody likes Swisher as much as I do. With that being said, his roster spot on this team is becoming less and less defendable. He is hitting just .228/.287/.354 through 23 games and he’s been relegated to a much lesser role given the success of a Murphy/Raburn platoon. While he has always struck out at an outrageously high clip, Swisher’s consistent whiffing is more unforgiving now given his inability to be a significant power threat. He has hit just two home runs through 79 at-bats this season and, in a lineup full of a strikeout-prone hitters, the redundancy of Swisher is becoming hard to watch.

Next: Week 7 - Who's hot? Who's not?

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