There hasn’t been a more frustrating team in baseball to watch this season than the Cleveland Indians.
I’m convinced of it.
After playing so well in May, the Tribe has again faltered to a 8-10 record thus far in the month of June and sit in an eerily familiar position. They’re 2.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers for the third place spot in the AL Central with the Tigers coming to town to kick off a three game set this evening and the Indians, who are just 14-21 at Progressive Field, have yet another opportunity to surpass their division foes.
Unfortunately, the Tigers are catching the Tribe at another down-time in their season. After hitting .265 last month, the Indians’ offense has been nothing short of abysmal for much of June. They’re hitting just .238 as a team and the Herculean efforts of Jason Kipnis, as good as he’s been, have been wasted.
Again, though, as poorly as the Indians have played this season, they’re still within striking distance in their division. Let’s take a look at who’s hot and who’s not after the eleventh week of the season:
May 29, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (22) throws to first base for a putout during the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Who else? If Kansas City Royals’ fans weren’t busy making a mockery of the All-Star voting — oh, and the best players actually started in that game — Kipnis would be leading the way for AL second basemen by a landslide. He enters tonight’s match-up with the Tigers hitting .345/.423/.509 on the season with five home runs and 10 stolen bases. Kipnis ranks second in the American League with 21 doubles and leads league second basemen in seemingly every offensive category. To top it off, the 28-year-old infielder has committed just two errors on the season and continues to (unexpectedly) dazzle with the glove. Unfortunately for Kipnis, though, he hasn’t had much help from the rest of the Tribe offense this week. Hitting .474 on his own, the next highest average or Indians regulars this week was .238 (Michael Brantley). If only he could get some help.
The offense has just been putrid and, as has become commonplace this season, a number of really solid outings have been squandered by a lack of run support. Making his first big league start on Sunday, Anderson tossed an absolute gem — 7.2 innings, six hits and zero earned runs. He was unable to earn the decision, but the Tribe eventually squeaked out a victory over Tampa Bay — their only win of the series — in the final inning to give Cody Allen the victory. The fifth spot in the rotation has been an absolute travesty in Cleveland this season, so the Indians only hope Anderson can build upon that solid performance as he heads toward start No. 2 this week.
As I say every week, expect Moss to make it onto this list one way or another every week. He’s either scorching hot or he’s ice cold and, this week, the veteran slugger has been the latter. In 19 at-bats this week, Moss has tallied all of zero hits. Yes, you read that correctly. Zero hits for Moss in six games this week, including nine strikeouts and four walks. He was blanked in the RBI column, failed to score a run and was just about useless on offensive this week. And that might be being nice.
For a few weeks there, Bourn looked like a shell of his former self. He was getting on base at an impressive clip, playing solid defense in center field and making plays with his legs on the base paths. And then he returned to Earth. In six games this week, the veteran outfielder notched just two hits in 14 at-bats and struck out six times. He walked twice and scored a run in what was yet another unproductive week for the Tribe center fielder. At some point — and perhaps some time soon — the Tribe will have to cut their losses and realize they are significantly worse with Bourn on their roster. Let’s give Tyler Holt or Tyler Naquin a shot.
I’m not convinced there has been anyone more disappointing over the last two seasons than Santana. While his ability to get on base has often masked the ugly blemishes in his game, the idea of Santana being a good walker has long since run its course. For as good as he is at drawing walks, he’s equally bad at getting hits — especially when the Indians need it most. He’s been a human rally killer this season and hit us .150 again this week. While he was responsible for a team-high four RBIs this week, Santana has been an enormous disappointment. He was supposed to provide some on-base assurance between Kipnis and Brantley, but has failed miserably to do so. Like Bourn, Santana is quickly wearing out his welcome in this Indians lineup.