• Changing RCF's index page, please click on "Forums" to access the forums.

2024 Guardians Regular Season Thread

Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Don't you have to consider launch angle as well when debating which player has more power? Can a guy who hits a lot of 110 mph ground balls and rarely homers be considered a "power hitter"?

Jose has a relatively low average exit velo but he has developed the ability to pull the ball in the air consistently. Who is the power hitter - a guy who hits a lot of 105 mph home runs or the ball who hits a lot of 110 mph ground balls?

Last year Arias had a ground ball percentage of 52.3% - the highest on the Guardians. Second highest was Oscar Gonzalez, third was Josh Bell, and fourth was Mike Zunino. That's four extremely strong guys who everybody would describe as power hitters, except they didn't hit home runs. They combined for 26 home runs in nearly 1,000 at-bats.

Even Kwan can hit a home run when he pulls the ball in the air. Like Bimbo said, that's what it's all about.

Make a lot of contact, don’t swing and miss a lot, draw their walks, and hit a lot of pulled fly balls to the OF, the last of which has been the missing factor for the emphasis on making more contact to find a more impactful bat. - Bimbo

Last year Arias ranked 12th on the Guardians in pull percentage (33%) and 14th in fly ball percentage. The only players who pulled the ball less were Amed, Oscar, Kwan, and Straw. Three of those four are gone.

No question Arias is one strong dude. But until he starts getting more balls in the air and turning on some pitches I question how successful he can be as a hitter. He'll hit some hard ground balls through the right side and to be fair he's shown he can take it deep to right field. Yandy Diaz had the same profile when he was here - high average EV but lots of balls on the ground up the middle and to the right side. And with the shortstop now playing behind the bag those shots up the middle are mostly outs.

Josh Naylor did it. His fly ball percentages starting as a rookie in 2019 are 30%, 25%, 32%, 34%, and 37% last year. He's getting more balls in the air to take advantage of his power. Maybe Arias can learn to do that, too. The great thing about Arias is even when he doesn't pull the ball he's strong enough to get doubles and homers if he gets the ball up.

Is he a power hitter? Not with a 53% ground ball rate. But he's definitely a potential power hitter.
Regarding Kwan... I don't expect him to pull the ball with any regularity, but also feel he gets a little too reliant on dinking hits over the 3rd baseman, trying to drop them near the foul line. If he can find more of a consistent balance, he turns into a much more complete hitter. Time to turn a corner.
 
Don't you have to consider launch angle as well when debating which player has more power? Can a guy who hits a lot of 110 mph ground balls and rarely homers be considered a "power hitter"?

Jose has a relatively low average exit velo but he has developed the ability to pull the ball in the air consistently. Who is the power hitter - a guy who hits a lot of 105 mph home runs or the ball who hits a lot of 110 mph ground balls?

Last year Arias had a ground ball percentage of 52.3% - the highest on the Guardians. Second highest was Oscar Gonzalez, third was Josh Bell, and fourth was Mike Zunino. That's four extremely strong guys who everybody would describe as power hitters, except they didn't hit home runs. They combined for 26 home runs in nearly 1,000 at-bats.

Even Kwan can hit a home run when he pulls the ball in the air. Like Bimbo said, that's what it's all about.

Make a lot of contact, don’t swing and miss a lot, draw their walks, and hit a lot of pulled fly balls to the OF, the last of which has been the missing factor for the emphasis on making more contact to find a more impactful bat. - Bimbo

Last year Arias ranked 12th on the Guardians in pull percentage (33%) and 14th in fly ball percentage. The only players who pulled the ball less were Amed, Oscar, Kwan, and Straw. Three of those four are gone.

No question Arias is one strong dude. But until he starts getting more balls in the air and turning on some pitches I question how successful he can be as a hitter. He'll hit some hard ground balls through the right side and to be fair he's shown he can take it deep to right field. Yandy Diaz had the same profile when he was here - high average EV but lots of balls on the ground up the middle and to the right side. And with the shortstop now playing behind the bag those shots up the middle are mostly outs.

Josh Naylor did it. His fly ball percentages starting as a rookie in 2019 are 30%, 25%, 32%, 34%, and 37% last year. He's getting more balls in the air to take advantage of his power. Maybe Arias can learn to do that, too. The great thing about Arias is even when he doesn't pull the ball he's strong enough to get doubles and homers if he gets the ball up.

Is he a power hitter? Not with a 53% ground ball rate. But he's definitely a potential power hitter.

There is more than 1 way to hit for power. The bolded I said is a set of traits that, IMO, makes power transitioning from the minors to the MLB more immediate, instead of waiting a few years and 1000 MLB PAs for power to start showing up in the MLB. For most guys, power is the last thing to show up. Because most guys can't get to power naturally to all fields, like Gabe can. So they have to pull to produce power numbers. And in order to pull with a lot of frequency you typically need to see a lot of MLB pitches unless its just your natural skillset, like it is for a handful of guys already on our roster or coming up soon.

But we're looking at batted ball types here instead of looking at the actual production to this point a little too much right now.

Gabe has hit for more power than anyone not named Josh Naylor and Jose Ramirez vs RHP since he debuted. Statistical fact. By ISO, by slugging, by HR/PA, by XBH/PA, he's the only guy on that level with Josh and Jose vs RHP. In some areas he surpasses both of them. Which is not normal for a guy less than 500 PAs into their career. Most guys start like Freeman, Kwan, Brennan, Gimenez, and Rocchio to this point have. Not much power production against any hand. But tools to suggest more is coming. But it will come with experience and knowing when they can cheat on pitches to get the barrel infront of the pitch more frequently.

All of Gabe's issues fall on one side of the coin. A lot of which has to do with a natural swing that wants to go to right-center every swing. Works against righties with stuff moving away from you. Doesn't work vs lefties with stuff coming in to you.

He has issues getting to his power vs LHP in the MLB so far. He does not vs RHP. The power potential to a different degree comes from him figuring out counts to cheat on and get the barrel infront of the pitch to start pulling more balls like the other guys, but with a natural ability to drive the ball for power the other way which not everyone can do.

What makes him intriguing. What makes him a liability as well though. If he starts pulling the ball more what does that do to his approach vs RHP that has worked so far in his brief career. The ever long battle of give and take as a hitter is tough in the MLB.
 
I was talking yesterday about how the Guardians' plate discipline has shown significant improvement from last year, at least in the Oakland series, and how the scoring is way up. Here are some comments from the Guardians on that topic:

“We’re doing the little things right that we talked about all spring,” said manager Stephen Vogt. “We’re taking really good at-bats. We’re making really good swing decisions.

“Val (Chris Valaika, hitting coach) and the hitting group have been crushing that all winter and all the spring. We’re getting into good counts and that allows us to drive the ball in the gaps and hit for power.”

“I like the way we’re battling,” said Vogt. “We’re not just going up there and waving at the first pitch. We’re making pitchers work and we haven’t chased a whole lot so far. I like the consistency of the guys sticking with the plan. They’re buying into the plan the hitting group has put together."


Obviously Valaika did not fail to notice that the Guardians finished 28th in out-of-zone swing percentage last year and he decided to do something about it. They hammered that message all winter and spring and the early returns have been exciting. Now let's see if they can keep it going against better pitching than the Oakland A's had to offer.
 
Last edited:
There is more than 1 way to hit for power. The bolded I said is a set of traits that, IMO, makes power transitioning from the minors to the MLB more immediate, instead of waiting a few years and 1000 MLB PAs for power to start showing up in the MLB. For most guys, power is the last thing to show up. Because most guys can't get to power naturally to all fields, like Gabe can. So they have to pull to produce power numbers. And in order to pull with a lot of frequency you typically need to see a lot of MLB pitches unless its just your natural skillset, like it is for a handful of guys already on our roster or coming up soon.

But we're looking at batted ball types here instead of looking at the actual production to this point a little too much right now.

Gabe has hit for more power than anyone not named Josh Naylor and Jose Ramirez vs RHP since he debuted. Statistical fact. By ISO, by slugging, by HR/PA, by XBH/PA, he's the only guy on that level with Josh and Jose vs RHP. In some areas he surpasses both of them. Which is not normal for a guy less than 500 PAs into their career. Most guys start like Freeman, Kwan, Brennan, Gimenez, and Rocchio to this point have. Not much power production against any hand. But tools to suggest more is coming. But it will come with experience and knowing when they can cheat on pitches to get the barrel infront of the pitch more frequently.

All of Gabe's issues fall on one side of the coin. A lot of which has to do with a natural swing that wants to go to right-center every swing. Works against righties with stuff moving away from you. Doesn't work vs lefties with stuff coming in to you.

He has issues getting to his power vs LHP in the MLB so far. He does not vs RHP. The power potential to a different degree comes from him figuring out counts to cheat on and get the barrel infront of the pitch to start pulling more balls like the other guys, but with a natural ability to drive the ball for power the other way which not everyone can do.

What makes him intriguing. What makes him a liability as well though. If he starts pulling the ball more what does that do to his approach vs RHP that has worked so far in his brief career. The ever long battle of give and take as a hitter is tough in the MLB.
The voice of reason and truth. Makes all the sense in the world. But wouldn't he be successful against lefties by sitting on outer third pitches and taking them to right-center or down the right field line?
 
I think it's exciting that both Freeman and Brennan, who are not known to be power hitters, both hit the ball either high off the center field fence (Brennan) or over it (Freeman) last night. Brennan's shot was caught by Rodriquez, but it would have hit high on the wall.

Also, Kwan launched a home run in Oakland, and it wasn't a cheapie inside the foul pole. Somebody said it traveled 420 feet.

The guys have been pumping iron and are attacking the ball with more "intent" this year. By the way, those two balls hit by Brennan last night that were caught by Rodriguez had catch probabilities of 25% and 15% according to statcast. Julio probably won the game for Seattle with those two catches.

Take Kwan, for example. Yes, it's early and he's only seen 98 pitches, but his barrel percentage is up from 1.1% last year to 5.3%. His launch angle is up from 11.8 and 10.7 degrees his first two seasons to a whopping 17.7 this year. His hard hit percentage is up from 19% to 26%.

Here's the downside; his strikeout percentage has doubled from 10.4% to 20% and his walk rate has dropped from 9.7% to 4.0%. He's trading more walks and fewer strikeouts for a higher hard hit percentage and more launch angle. His OBP is down slightly but his OPS is up. We'll see how this goes the rest of the year, but his approach has definately changed.
 
So, what's the point of this exactly?

Caminero trade was bad. We get that. Every team in MLB makes bad deals every once and a while. It happens. So, after that trade...

Trading away Harold Ramirez, big deal. And before anyone says, "BuT hE hAd A gReAt YeAr!" ... he had a 1.8 WAR last year. Average. Next.

We got David Fry for JC Mejia, that's a small win.

Traded away Zimmer, Chang, Yohan Ramirez, Alex Young, Sandy Leon, Chris Roller, Jose Fermin, all yawn.

The next hot debate one is Nolan Jones. He had a HELL of a year last year, make no mistake. But he's off to a ROUGH start this season. The league has adjusted back to him and he already has FOUR errors on the young season. AND we got Juan Brito. Think this one still requires more patience.

Got rid of Carlos Vargas and Owen Miller... more nothing.

Trading away Will Benson is one that I can't make many excuses for, but. again. Chalk it up as a bad trade.

Getting rid of Palacios and Pikington, again, let's move on.

Trading Civale for Manzardo was a heck of a deal for the Guards, IMO.

Josh Bell trade a wash.

DDLS for Barlow.. still too early to determine, but not going to be one that we look back on either way.

But brings me back to the point of that tweet... what is it? Other than just attempting to have the same old, tiring "Guardians make terrible decisions!"
 
Richie Palacios has a 464 xwOBA and 174 wRc+ playing RF for the Rays (of all fucking teams).
 
So, what's the point of this exactly?

Caminero trade was bad. We get that. Every team in MLB makes bad deals every once and a while. It happens. So, after that trade...

Trading away Harold Ramirez, big deal. And before anyone says, "BuT hE hAd A gReAt YeAr!" ... he had a 1.8 WAR last year. Average. Next.

We got David Fry for JC Mejia, that's a small win.

Traded away Zimmer, Chang, Yohan Ramirez, Alex Young, Sandy Leon, Chris Roller, Jose Fermin, all yawn.

The next hot debate one is Nolan Jones. He had a HELL of a year last year, make no mistake. But he's off to a ROUGH start this season. The league has adjusted back to him and he already has FOUR errors on the young season. AND we got Juan Brito. Think this one still requires more patience.

Got rid of Carlos Vargas and Owen Miller... more nothing.

Trading away Will Benson is one that I can't make many excuses for, but. again. Chalk it up as a bad trade.

Getting rid of Palacios and Pikington, again, let's move on.

Trading Civale for Manzardo was a heck of a deal for the Guards, IMO.

Josh Bell trade a wash.

DDLS for Barlow.. still too early to determine, but not going to be one that we look back on either way.

But brings me back to the point of that tweet... what is it? Other than just attempting to have the same old, tiring "Guardians make terrible decisions!"
Just a transaction record really. Interpret how you see fit.

Edit. Also though it says future considerations for Owen Miller, I do believe that is a done cash deal.
 
Just hoping Boyd and Brito pan out to salvage the Jones and Benson trades. And Manzardo for Civale, of course.
FWIW, in addition to the Benson and Jones deals, the Fry and Kody Huff trades have the potential to be real winners.
 
Zack Meisel has a column on the ten Guardians he is most looking forward to watching this year. I have to agree with his choices, but I would add Cade Smith (is he for real?) and Gabe Arias to the list.

10. Brayan Rocchio

It feels like we’ve been hearing about Rocchio for a decade, and yet he just turned 23 in January. He was perhaps the surprise winner of the spring shortstop competition, and now if he can illustrate why he drew Francisco Lindor comparisons while in the minors, he might not give the job back. For an organization that has stockpiled middle infielders for years — and for a team still searching for an answer at shortstop despite that stockpile — a Rocchio breakout would have a lot of people exhaling.

9. Tyler Freeman

What would Freeman have said in November if told he would start in center field on Opening Day?

“No chance,” he said. “No way.”

He spent the first series roaming the same outfield grass where Dwayne Murphy racked up Gold Glove Awards, where Rickey Henderson got his start. And here’s the thing: He really enjoys it, perhaps even more than manning the middle infield because he has more opportunities to run and to chase after fly balls or line drives in the gap. Vogt praised the way Freeman handled the wind and rain in the spacious Oakland outfield.

It’s easy to forget he was a top 100 prospect ahead of the 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons, according to both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline. As a big leaguer, he had appeared in only 88 games in 2022 and ’23, far too small a sample to draw any conclusions. But he must demonstrate the hitting acumen that made him so well-regarded by prospect evaluators. The contact ability is undeniable. Can he translate that into big-league production? Can he do it while patrolling center field? It’s an intriguing experiment.

8. Bo Naylor

A Cleveland catcher who doesn’t bat ninth? In this economy? The training wheels are off for Naylor this season, but he’ll have as extensive of a support system as a catcher could need in Vogt, Hedges, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Craig Albernaz. In a 67-game sample last year, Naylor flashed some power, some speed and some patience. What can he produce in a 162-game encore?

7. Chase DeLauter

He has to get to the majors first, but he probably expedited his arrival with a captivating spring performance. The calls for his promotion were loud in March. They’ll be deafening by May. And who can blame anyone clamoring for DeLauter? He could finally be a long-awaited answer — and a homegrown one at that — in the outfield. Cleveland hasn’t drafted, developed and employed an All-Star outfielder since Manny Ramirez. Might DeLauter end that drought?

6. Gavin Williams

He’s a hoss who possesses ace-level stuff, and even when he didn’t seem overly dominant last year, he still recorded healthy numbers. So what happens when he has better pitch usage and plans of attack? His slider and curveball stymied hitters in 2023 (.157 and .174 opponent average, respectively), and it’s his fastball — which last year averaged 95.7 mph but fluctuated quite a bit because of mechanical inefficiencies — that typically stands out. There should be a way, once he’s healthy, to deploy those three pitches in a way that overwhelms most hitters.

5. Triston McKenzie

McKenzie snapped off a bunch of curveballs in his final spring tuneup that offered a reminder of what he’s capable of when healthy and what the Guardians missed last year when he was limited to 16 innings. Hitters have logged a .121 average and a .179 slugging percentage against his curveball during his four big-league seasons. That curveball is a thing of beauty to watch. It’s nice to actually get to watch it in 2024.

As for McKenzie’s fastball, well, a little more velocity and/or a little less hard contact would go a long way after a shaky showcase of the pitch on Monday.

4. Steven Kwan

Could Kwan lead the American League in hits? Could he win a batting title? His elite contact rate and plate discipline are already a joy to watch. Now if Kwan follows through on his aim of uncorking more aggressive swings in hitters’ counts, how will that influence his stat line? His home run in Oakland traveled 424 feet, the longest blast of his career. The guess is he performs closer to his 2022 slash line (.298/.373/.400) than his 2023 clip (.268/.340/.370). Oh, and he also has only ever played Gold Glove Award-winning defense, which is pleasing to the eye.

3. Kyle Manzardo

Last year, Cleveland’s lineup sorely needed thump. This year, though? Well, uh, it still sorely needs thump. Manzardo can provide it. He offered no suggestions this spring that he isn’t ready to try to tackle major-league pitching. Perhaps as soon as a few weeks from now, he should receive a chance to do so and to silence anyone still questioning the team’s trade of Aaron Civale last summer. Manzardo might not have the overall ceiling DeLauter does, but his floor is pretty high as a patient hitter who should rack up 20-plus homers and 35 doubles.

2. José Ramírez

How can he not rank at or near the top? He’s thrilling to watch yank a fastball over the fence, lose his helmet while advancing an extra 90 feet, make a backhanded snag at third base, chirp at teammates in the dugout, or deliver a decisive jab when an opponent challenges him to a no-holds-barred showdown. While some whisper about whether Ramírez’s best days are behind him, there’s one person who scoffs at such a suggestion. That’d be Ramírez, now 31 years old. He has finished in the top 10 in AL MVP voting six times from 2017-23 (including a trio of top-three finishes). He’s still so good at so many things, and his instincts and intelligence are such that he’ll figure out ways to produce as he navigates his 30s.

1. Shane Bieber

He’s the most intriguing because this can go in so many directions. How he performs and how the Guardians perform could create a handful of possibilities this summer. If he thrives, he could be a trade option. But if he thrives, it could vault the Guardians into contention and perhaps to a place in which trading him would be detrimental. It’s trite for a player to say they’re in a great spot heading into a new season — I’m still waiting for a player to admit, “Yeah, I spent my entire winter licking Cheetos dust off my fingers” — but Bieber is a motivated pitcher in a walk year. If he can recapture what made him an unquestioned ace from 2020-22, it could pay dividends for everyone involved. The early returns are promising, especially if he continues to trust his new-ish changeup.

“I don’t need approval from the outside,” he said last week. “I know what I’m capable of and I’m excited to go do it.”
 
FWIW, in addition to the Benson and Jones deals, the Fry and Kody Huff trades have the potential to be real winners.
JC Mejia has pitched 13 innings since the trade and is now suspended for the season. From a column on Sep. 20, 2023:

Milwaukee Brewers right-hander J.C. Mejia was suspended 162 games by Major League Baseball on Wednesday after his second positive for a performance-enhancing drug....Mejía was suspended 80 games on May 17, 2022, after his first positive test for Stanozolol, a synthetic steroid derived from testosterone.

I'd say we already won the David Fry trade.
 

Rubber Rim Job Podcast Video

Episode 3-14: "Time for Playoff Vengeance on Mickey"

Rubber Rim Job Podcast Spotify

Episode 3:14: " Time for Playoff Vengeance on Mickey."
Top