The Cleveland Indians were able to scrape by with a series win against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, but the lack of offense is starting to worry some people.
The Tribe suffered through a 23 inning scoring drought covering parts of all three games in the series, and were still able to come away with wins in two of them. They can get away with that now against a mediocre team in Kansas City, but that won’t work for long.
On Twitter, you can hear faint cries calling for hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo‘s job, but rest easy. There is no reason for Van Burkleo to lose his job. Offenses go into slumps sometimes and the Indians are just having one at the start of the season. Besides, the Tribe has been known to get off to slow starts in the past, and they’ve still done pretty well lately.
But there has to be something that can explain why this team just isn’t generating any offense.
How bad is it right now?
It’s pretty bad. The Cleveland Indians have the worst slash line in baseball. They rank at the bottom of the league in batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. With a .159/.252/.274 line, this lineup isn’t even close to the rest of the pack.
The next highest team batting average is the Tampa Bay Rays at .201, over 40 points higher than the Indians. The next highest OPS is nearly 30 points higher. The Indians are in the offensive cellar right now, and it’s a long climb out of it.
Why are they hitting so poorly?
When trying to figure out what could be the cause of this offensive slump, one needs to check a couple of different statistics. In order to explain why the on base percentage was so low I checked how many walks the team drew. They were about middle of the pack compared to the rest of the league so that couldn’t be it.
Then I looked if it was such a high number of strikeouts that could explain these low numbers. But, the Cleveland Indians were also middle of the pack in that category as well, so that couldn’t explain the slump.
Then I checked the team’s batting average on balls in play, or BAbip. As it turns out, the team’s BAbip is .186, which is absolutely atrocious. So this appears to be the cause of the major slump we are seeing. BAbip is seen as an indicator of luck. An extremely high BAbip shows that the player or team has been extremely lucky with the hits they’ve gotten, while an extremely low BAbip, like the one the Indians currently have, is a sign that they have been extremely unlucky.
What does this mean?
It means the Indians lineup will be fine. It’s just that right now, the entire lineup has been very unlucky with the balls they’ve hit into play. Baseball has a way of balancing these things over a 162 game season. There is too much talent in this lineup for every single of them to stay this unlucky.
With a .186 BABIP, there’s not much hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo can do. The lineup is hitting the ball right at people. He can tell them all he wants to hit it where they aren’t, but the result there is out of his control.
Van Burkleo’s job is safe. We are two weeks into a very long season. While a slow start isn’t exactly what fans wanted to see, the Tribe has done it before and bounced back. The bats will probably heat up as soon as the weather does. So let’s hope this weather heats up soon, both for the players’ sake and our sake.
The Cleveland Indians lineup is still one of the best in baseball. There’s a lot of talent in there, and before long this slump will be over.