This season has not gone well for the Cleveland Guardians. Their offense is not clicking and has been prone to be a no-show on most days. The 5-0 loss on Wednesday to Detroit to drop to third place in the division is just the latest underwhelming day at the plate. What has become very apparent as this team nears the 40 game mark is this offense simply is not good enough.
As previously mentioned, Cleveland was shutout in a loss to Detroit. This was the fifth time this season that the Guardians have failed to score and it is the third time in the last 15 games. Cleveland has been outscored by 25 runs this season, averaging only 3.4 while giving up 4.1 to their opponents. Seven-tenths of a run does not seem like a bunch by itself, but it is important to keep in mind how that compounds over multiple games and how much it really is throughout a season.
As things stand now the Guardians are dead last in runs scored with 126.
This is not just a case of the team leaving more runners on base than last season. In fact, the Guardians average of 7.14 per game is identical to their number in 2022 and their ranking this season (23) is higher than that of 2022 (28). Although it is worth mentioning that their batting average with a man on base this season is the second-worst in all of baseball (.227). Cleveland was significantly better last season as their .258 average was good for 12th overall.
What stands out is the Guardians are not hitting. Cleveland's 272 hits entering Thursday are the second-fewest and at the end of the day will be fewest with Minnesota playing while the Guardians are idle.
The Guardians as a team possess one of the worst slash lines in the sport, they are either at or near the bottom in average (.223), on-base percentage (.297), and slugging percentage (.325). Last season saw Cleveland at sixth in average (.254), 12th in on-base percentage (.316), and 21st in sluggin percentage (.383). This drop in overall hitting numbers combined with situational hitting has not led to many positive results for the Guardians this season and that is a problem.
The new rules were supposed to help the Guardians, not hurt them
Cleveland was a popular pick to be a team to take advantage of the new rules introduced this season. With the shift ban and the emphasis on base-running, the Guardians appeared primed to take advantage with their approach. Add in the a couple new power threats in Josh Bell and Mike Zunino, and maybe they would be able to have some better numbers in the power department.
Unfortunately the complete opposite has been true. Cleveland's 19 home runs are the least amount from any team and they trail the 29th ranking Nationals by five. Through 37 games, Jose Ramirez is the Guardians leader in home runs with four, yes four. The likes of Bell and Josh Naylor have three long balls while Zunino has just two.
While anyone with a reasonable mind expected the Guardians to challenge to lead the sport in home runs, there was an expectation that this team would at least be closer to the middle than last year, not further from it. The power output, or lack-thereof, from this team up to this point has been a complete failure.
Stop with the excuses
Every time this Guardians team underwhelms at the plate the same group of excuses come out. "It's early, the weather is cold, their record was the same/almost identical to last year at this point". Stop it, just stop it.
The phrase it's early can only go on for so long before it's early turns into it's too late. Too late comes a lot faster than expected and not worrying because it is mid-May is nonsense. Everyone knows the saying, "you can't win a division in April, but you can lose it". Well, the Guardians are well on their way towards the latter at this current juncture and that should be alarming.
Just because the team had a similar record umpteen times before does not mean it is acceptable for the current team to also have it. When a team has certain expectations placed upon them it is not acceptable to play in this manner for an extended period of time.
As far as the weather goes, every team has played in cold weather at some point with a good portion playing in similar conditions to Cleveland. Saying the weather is cold is just a convenient excuse to kick the can down the road to avoid some very warranted criticism of how this team has performed up to this point and it has to stop.
The fact of the matter is that the Cleveland Guardians have some real offensive problems and making one simple change will not make the rest of them disappear. The time is running out for the team to do something of substance or they will be playing a month full of meaningless games in September.