Indians’ Surprises: Lonnie Chisenhall
May 25, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall (8) scores a run in the third inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Bretz: For me, the biggest surprise thus far for the Cleveland Indians is Lonnie Chisenhall. I was never expecting him to come out and hit the way he did at the start of last season, but never thought he’d be this bad either. Whether it’s his career low BABIP that’s the cause, or simply swinging at too many bad pitches, I don’t know, but it’s very surprising just how bad he’s been offensively.
And probably even more surprising with Chisenhall is how improved he’s actually looked defensively. In 2014, you’d have been hard pressed to find a third baseman that was worse defensively than Chisenhall. In 2015 though, Chisenhall rates as one of the best defensive third basemen in the game. Yes, small samples can be misleading with defensive metrics, but he’s currently at a +6 DRS, +5 TZ, and +1.8 UZR. I don’t believe he’s truly that good defensively, but just watching him this year it’s crystal clear that he is much improved in that aspect of the game. I expected some improvement but I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by how much he seems to have improved.
* * *
Ryan Rosko: My biggest surprise is that the Tribe has yet to make a significant move to improve the left side of the infield. With the struggles of Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall, I would have liked and hoped to see some adjustment. In my mind, between the two I’ve been ready to move past Chisenhall for a while. As Matt mentioned, there is a small sample size for Chisenhall’s improved game on defense, which I’m glad to see. I just do not believe he is going to be able to keep that up and be a consistent player the team needs going forward. There is not a specific person I prefer, but why not Francisco Lindor, Giovanny Urshela, among others. Even a trade to bring someone in the off-season or during the season would have been fine, especially since Mike Aviles is best situated in a utility role.
* * *
The Tribe has certainly had a crazy season so far, but with any luck, there will be more good surprises than bad ones in the second half.