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Grading the Indians | 2019

Stark

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Anybody that got moved and is no longer a part of the organization (Bauer, Hanley, Leonys, etc.) won't be covered here. I'm using baseball reference WAR and fangraphs UZR for those wondering. I know that's weird, but I'm used to the bref WAR.

Greg Allen - OF | Season Stats: .229/.290/.346/.636, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 8 SB, 231 AB, 0.5 WAR, 5.0 UZR
Allen's offensive numbers dipped a bit in his age-26 season but his fielding metrics soared higher than they've ever been. He didn't really receive consistent playing time throughout the year, but proved to be a solid defensive replacement and pinch running threat. I was a bit upset at his usage as a pinch hitter and the fact that his bat seemed to take a step backwards this year. Grade: C

Jake Bauers - 1B/LF
| Season Stats: .226/.312/.371/.683, 12 HR, 43 RBI, 372 AB, -0.6 WAR, -0.3 OF UZR, 0.0 1B UZR
Bauers was one of the bigger disappointments for the 20Y19 Indians. Coming over in the Yandy Diaz/Carlos Santana deal from last winter, Bauers was a relatively highly touted prospect that Indians fans were hoping would help fill the LF void left by Michael Brantley. Unfortunately, Bauers struggled mightily at the dish most of the season, even leading to a demotion to Columbus, and was not great in the field either. He'll only be 24 at the start of next season and has a fair amount of tools to be a good hitter, but Bauers' 2019 campaign goes down as major disappointment for me on both sides of the field. Grade: D-

Bobby Bradley - 1B
| Season Stats: .178/.245/.356/.600, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 45 AB, -0.3 WAR
Bradley was a hyped up prospect coming into the season, and even moreso for how he was destroying the ball early on in Columbus. Unfortunately, Bradley was simply overmatched over his brief stint at the big league level. He's younger than Jake Bauers, so of course, there is plenty of room to grow, but his BB% and K% rates at Columbus are far from encouraging. I hate to fail guys based on 45 ABs, but this is Cleveland production only and Bradley simply was not good at all at the big league level this year. Grade: F

Yu Chang - 3B/2B
| Season Stats: .178/.286/.274/.560, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 73 AB, -0.2 WAR
Similar to Bradley, Chang was a guy many of us expected to see in Cleveland in some capacity this season. His offensive numbers, again, like Bradley, left a lot to be desired however. He's only 24 years old, and since he had a better walk rate and more positional flexibility than Bradley, I'm not going to completely fail him, but Chang was still pretty disappointing. Grade: D-

Ryan Flaherty - 3B/2B | Season Stats: .143/.143/.238/.381, 1 RBI, 21 AB, -0.2 WAR
Shot myself in the foot when I decided to cover everybody who finished with the organization at the end of the year. Flaherty sucked. Grade: F

Mike Freeman - IF/OF
| Season Stats: .277/.362/.390/.752, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 177 AB, 1.3 WAR, 2.4 2B UZR
Freeman pretty much came out of nowhere as the Indians super utility guy this season, and performed far past expectations in the role. He was a slightly negative fielder in all of the positions he played except for second base, but his vast positional flexibility (he spent time at 2B, SS, 3B, and LF) was a great help nonetheless. He was a very patient and crafty hitter who also had a very solid 10.3 BB%. Was he a world beater? Of course not, but Freeman performed way beyond what any of us expected this year. Grade: B+

Eric Hasse - C
| Season Stats: .063/.118/.250/.368, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 16 AB, -0.2 WAR
Hasse barely played this season, but the one hit he had all year was his first career home run, so that's kind of cool I guess. He showed a lot of pop in Columbus and figures to fight with Plawecki for the backup catcher job next season. Again, I hate failing guys based on 16 ABs, but Hasse wasn't hampered by injuries or anything and I think "incomplete" grades are cop-outs, so he unfortunately fails since a .368 OPS is garbage. I do think there's a chance he contributes for us next season though. Grade: F

Jason Kipnis - 2B
| Season Stats: .245/.304/.410/.715, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 7 SB, 23 2B, 458 AB, 0.5 WAR, 3.5 2B UZR
Kipnis fought pretty hard for us this season. He struggled mightily out of the gate, which led to a lot of fans calling for him to be DFA'd. He still didn't have a great season by any means, but he was able to pull his OPS above .700 by the end of the season, still slugged 17 HR which isn't half bad for a second basemen, and played an above average second base this season. He's not an all-star anymore, but after that horrid start he had, I honestly thought Kipnis was cooked beyond salvation this season. If he has played his last game with the Indians, I'm glad he didn't go down without a whimper. Grade: C+
 

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And of course, this thing posted for some reason before I was completely finished and I still can't edit any of my posts on this board. I'm finishing the rest of the hitters right now.
 

Stark

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Francisco Lindor - SS | Season Stats: .284/.335/.518/.854, 32 HR, 40 2B, 74 RBI, 101 R, 22 SB, 170 H, 598 AB, 4.7 WAR, 6.4 UZR
Lindor is simply the best all around offensive player the Indians have. He missed the first month of the season pretty much and still put up a great campaign. This season, he joined Lou Gehrig, Alfonso Soriano, Miguel Cabrera, and Albert Pujols as the only players in MLB history with 3 straight seasons of 30+ HR and 40+ 2B. The only flaw I found in Lindor's season was the fact that his UZR rating at shortstop had a relatively significant falloff. He went from 13.4 in 2018, which is pretty much gold glove caliber, to 6.4 this season, which signifies that he was just a bit better than above average. He was still good over there, not saying he was bad, but there was a noticeable decline from his great 2018 defensive campaign. Grade: A

Jordan Luplow - OF
| Season Stats: .276/.372/.551/.923, 15 HR, 38 RBI, 15 2B, 225 AB, 1.7 WAR, 2.6 UZR
Luplow emerged as one of the best sluggers in all of baseball against left handed pitching, finishing the year with a 1.181 OPS against southpaws. That's great and all, but for as good as Luplow was against lefties, he was that bad against right handed pitching (.573 OPS). Since right handers are far more common than lefties, Luplow was somewhat limited in what he could do for us. Still though, that massive power against lefties pretty much came out of nowhere given his past MLB track record. He's only 26 years old as well, so there's plenty of time for him to develop into a respectable hitter against righties, which would pave the way for more playing time. Grade: B+

Oscar Mercado - CF
| Season Stats: .269/.318/.443/.761, 15 HR, 15 SB, 54 RBI, 70 R, 25 2B, 2.2 WAR, 0.6 UZR
Mercado erupted with one of the better rookie seasons out of an Indian in recent memory. He showed surprising power, prowess on the basepaths, and outside of a poor August, was able to keep his foot on the petal for the majority of the season, something easier said than done as a rookie. He wasn't great in the field however and probably projects to move to a corner spot at some point, but I credit Oscar Mercado for being one of the key cogs in the 2019 Indians, and without him, who knows where they would have ended up this season. Grade: A-

Tyler Naquin - RF
| Season Stats: .288/.325/.467/.792, 10 HR, 19 2B, 34 RBI, 274 AB, 1.4 WAR, 9.7 UZR
Naquin re-surged himself into his best season since his rookie campaign in 2019. His splits were lower but comparable to his 2016 season, but this year was far and away a breakout season for Naquin in the outfield. His 9.7 UZR and 2.9 ARM ratings were far and away career highs. Unfortunately, a torn ACL ended Naquin's season a bit early, but if he's able to recover, he'll be able to use this season as a great stepping stone into his age-29 season in 2020. Grade: A-

Roberto Perez - C
| Season Stats: .239/.321/.452/.774, 24 HR, 63 RBI, 389 AB, 3.9 WAR
Perez had a breakout season in his first year as a full-time starter behind the dish. He hit more home runs this season than the rest of his career combined and was arguably the best defensive catcher in all of baseball. He led the American League in CS% at 41%, with league average being 27%. He tailed off a bit towards the end of the season offensively, but any-time a gold glove caliber catcher like Perez gives you 20+ HR and a .700+ OPS, you take it and run. Grade: A

Kevin Plawecki - C
| Season Stats: .222/.287/.342/.629, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 158 AB, -0.1 WAR
Plawecki was penciled in by some to be the Indians starting catcher in the spring, but was quickly demoted to full-time backup status following Perez's meteoric season. Even in this role, Plawecki had his fair share of struggles. He wasn't worth much with a bat and threw out a paltry 23% of base stealers. I'd figure he and Hasse will have a competition for the MLB backup spot next season, or perhaps we'll even look for external help. Grade: D

Yasiel Puig - RF
| Season Stats (w/ CLE): .297/.377/.423/.800, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 15 2B, 182 AB, 0.5 WAR, -0.7 UZR
Puig was an exciting rental to say the least for us this offseason, and although the home run power shriveled up into pretty much nothing, he was still more than capable with a bat in his hands. His fielding was below average, but I was actually somewhat impressed with Puig's plate discipline and all around batting approach in his short time here. I don't think we should pay him this offseason, but I will look back on Puig as a fun guy to watch for two months at the very least. Grade: B

Jose Ramirez - 3B
| Season Stats: .255/.327/.479/.806, 23 HR, 83 RBI, 24 SB, 33 2B, 482 AB, 3.3 WAR, 4.2 UZR
It was a roller coaster of a season for Jose Ramirez to say the least. He started out in a horrendous slump, rebounded a bit, broke his hand, then came back and had one of the most memorable games all season long when he slugged 2 HR and had 7 RBI in his return game in Chicago. His end of season numbers ended up being pretty solid given that he was terrible for seven weeks and then missed another month, and despite the eye test (in my opinion) saying otherwise, he was an above league average fielder at third base. Jose will still only be 27 years old next season as well, and I look for him to rebound into an MVP candidate again in 2020. Grade: B-

Franmil Reyes - DH
| Season Stats (w/ CLE): .237/.304/.468/.772, 10 HR, 35 RBI, 10 2B, 173 AB, 0.1 WAR
Reyes scuffled a bit in throughout the first few weeks of his Cleveland career (falling to -0.7 WAR at one point), but was able to rebound and build himself some momentum for next season. He's got insane power and is still a very young guy. His fielding capabilities are pretty low, and rumor has it that Tito wants him to play outfield next season, so we'll have to see how that goes. I do think Reyes is a dark-horse candidate to approach the 50 HR mark next season if he stays healthy. Grade: C+

Carlos Santana - 1B
| Season Stats: .281/.397/.515/.911, 34 HR, 93 RBI, 110 R, 30 2B, 573 AB, 4.5 WAR, 1.5 UZR
Santana had the best season of his career in his return to Cleveland in 2019, and also earned his first career all-star selection. His walk rate remained very high and he set or tied career highs in BA, SLG, OPS, HR, RBI, R, OPS+, H, and WAR. A flat out dominating season for a Cleveland fan favorite. Grade: A+

Bradley Zimmer - OF
| Season Stats: .000/.071/.000/.071, 1 R, 13 AB, -0.2 WAR
Zimmer made his return late in the season and projects to be in the running for an outfield spot in 2020. Since Zimmer was injured, I'll cut him just the tiniest bit of slack on his final grade and not fail him, solely because I didn't think we'd even see him in Cleveland again until 2020. Grade: D-

I'd appreciate if @The Human Q-Tip or another mod could combine this post into my OP for cleanliness when they get a chance.
 
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Excellent summary. My only quibble, and this is minor, is on Lindor. I'm big on situational hitting; a single with the bases empty is not as valuable as a single with two out and the bases load. This year Lindor hit:

.290 with nobody on
.366 with a runner on first base
.202 with runners in scoring position
.167 with runners in scoring position and two out

Lindor was abysmal in his most important at-bats; 9-for-54 with RISP/2 out. He consistently chased pitches out of the zone in situations that demanded he be patient and swing at a good pitch. This might be excusable for an overanxious rookie, but at this point in his career he's a team leader and multiple All-Star. Great players rise to the occasion and perform at their best in the highest leverage situations. Lindor did the opposite.

When asked he complained that pitchers wouldn't throw him strikes with RISP. So how did he respond? By swinging at bad pitches and ending the inning rather than taking a walk and giving the next guy a chance to hit a better pitch.

Oscar Mercado, a rookie, hit .298/.918 with two out and RISP. But how many times was he left in the on-deck circle because Lindor, selfishly trying to be the hero, lunged at a pitch in the dirt and killed the rally? Mercado was 4-for-7 this year with the bases loaded. He hit .323 with RISP. He would have got a lot more at-bats in those situations if Lindor had not been so intent on driving in runs that he hacked at practically every pitch he saw.

I would give him a B- since his overall numbers were still good and his defense was very good.
 

Derek

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Excellent summary. My only quibble, and this is minor, is on Lindor. I'm big on situational hitting; a single with the bases empty is not as valuable as a single with two out and the bases load. This year Lindor hit:

.290 with nobody on
.366 with a runner on first base
.202 with runners in scoring position
.167 with runners in scoring position and two out

Lindor was abysmal in his most important at-bats; 9-for-54 with RISP/2 out. He consistently chased pitches out of the zone in situations that demanded he be patient and swing at a good pitch. This might be excusable for an overanxious rookie, but at this point in his career he's a team leader and multiple All-Star. Great players rise to the occasion and perform at their best in the highest leverage situations. Lindor did the opposite.

When asked he complained that pitchers wouldn't throw him strikes with RISP. So how did he respond? By swinging at bad pitches and ending the inning rather than taking a walk and giving the next guy a chance to hit a better pitch.

Oscar Mercado, a rookie, hit .298/.918 with two out and RISP. But how many times was he left in the on-deck circle because Lindor, selfishly trying to be the hero, lunged at a pitch in the dirt and killed the rally? Mercado was 4-for-7 this year with the bases loaded. He hit .323 with RISP. He would have got a lot more at-bats in those situations if Lindor had not been so intent on driving in runs that he hacked at practically every pitch he saw.

I would give him a B- since his overall numbers were still good and his defense was very good.
First off, welcome to the boards.

Second, I wouldn't read too much into single season situational splits.

It takes nearly 1000 at bats for BA% to normalize, and with just over 100 AB with RISP this year, there's bound to be a lot of small sample size noise. In fact, just this year Lindor hit .324/.409/.441 in what were deemed to be high leverage situations. Again though, that's over the course of just 44 PA, which is way too small of a sample size to draw any accurate conclusions.

He had an 11.3% walk rate and a 15.8% strikeout rate with RISP this year (compared to 7.0% and 15.0% for the season as a whole) to go along with a career high hard hit rate in such situations. However, he had just a .217 BABIP and a career-low HR/FB%. That's showing me a lot of bad luck.

Yes, Lindor chases out of the zone more than most. He actually ranked 32nd of 135 qualified batters in chase rate this year, but he does it in ALL situations. Obviously, I'd like to see him improve upon that, but his approach with RISP is no different than has been in any other AB or during any other season of his career where he's been more than solid with RISP.
 

daddywags

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All good points on Lindor, however, IMO career stats are (or should be) meaningless in regard to a single season grade.
 

Derek

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All good points on Lindor, however, IMO career stats are (or should be) meaningless in regard to a single season grade.
Absolutely, but to knock the guy for his production with RISP is silly to me when we have a full season worth of at bats to grade him on
 

Derek

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For what it’s worth, in 30 high leverage plate appearances with RISP this year Lindor hit .304/.367/.435

:chuckle:
 

BMAN

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I’m pretty familiar with advanced stuff compared to the casual fan, but what all goes in to a at bat being “high leverage”?
 

Urban

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I’m pretty familiar with advanced stuff compared to the casual fan, but what all goes in to a at bat being “high leverage”?
Score, inning, outs, and base runners

So it essentially gives a bit more context that a straight RISP split. Bases loaded in the 4th inning up 5 runs isn't as critical as a tie game in the 9th with a runner on 3rd with 2 outs

Also a bigger crapshoot when you see the sample is just 30 plate appearances
 
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First off, welcome to the boards.

Second, I wouldn't read too much into single season situational splits.

It takes nearly 1000 at bats for BA% to normalize, and with just over 100 AB with RISP this year, there's bound to be a lot of small sample size noise. In fact, just this year Lindor hit .324/.409/.441 in what were deemed to be high leverage situations. Again though, that's over the course of just 44 PA, which is way too small of a sample size to draw any accurate conclusions.

He had an 11.3% walk rate and a 15.8% strikeout rate with RISP this year (compared to 7.0% and 15.0% for the season as a whole) to go along with a career high hard hit rate in such situations. However, he had just a .217 BABIP and a career-low HR/FB%. That's showing me a lot of bad luck.

Yes, Lindor chases out of the zone more than most. He actually ranked 32nd of 135 qualified batters in chase rate this year, but he does it in ALL situations. Obviously, I'd like to see him improve upon that, but his approach with RISP is no different than has been in any other AB or during any other season of his career where he's been more than solid with RISP.
Thanks for the additional info - makes me feel better about his season. I just got tired of watching Frankie chase breaking balls in the dirt with two strikes when I knew exactly what was coming. He'd foul off a high fastball for strike two and my wife and I would both be saying, "Here it comes, Frankie, slider in the dirt, lay off it" and sure enough he'd lunge at that slider in the dirt and kill the rally. It got to be so predictable. By the end of the season the Tribe's announcers were even talking about it during the game. I don't recall him hitting a lot of line drives right at somebody in those situations even if the stats say he was "unlucky". There were a lot of pop-ups and easy fly balls, which is reflected in your statement about him having a career low HR/FB%.

I just know he could do so much better in those situations with a little more patience. I think he might have been affected by the Indians offense being so bad in the early going that he was pressing to do tooo much and got into some bad habits which continued even after the offense improved. I watched Santana lay off close pitch after close pitch in those situations while Frankie was flailing at pitches more than 6" off the plate.

"He’s gotten overanxious and chased out of the zone. Especially on breaking balls down. That’s the biggest thing. When he stays in the zone, he’s a pretty good hitter. He’s just a little overanxious." - Tito on Lindor with RISP
 

Joe Charboneau

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I still feel like Frankie should bat 2nd or 3rd. I always feel like his at bat is wasted batting leadoff. He just doesnt seem like your prototypical leadoff guy. Be nice if we could get some sort of speedy, contact guy and drop him down
 

Lord Mar

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I still feel like Frankie should bat 2nd or 3rd. I always feel like his at bat is wasted batting leadoff. He just doesnt seem like your prototypical leadoff guy. Be nice if we could get some sort of speedy, contact guy and drop him down
Agreed. Mercado or Allen would be better suited.
 

Derek

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I still feel like Frankie should bat 2nd or 3rd. I always feel like his at bat is wasted batting leadoff. He just doesnt seem like your prototypical leadoff guy. Be nice if we could get some sort of speedy, contact guy and drop him down
Ideally, I’d have Jose 2 and Frankie 3. Problem is, we don’t have a good OBP% guy to put in that leadoff spot.
 

Lord Mar

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Ideally, I’d have Jose 2 and Frankie 3. Problem is, we don’t have a good OBP% guy to put in that leadoff spot.
I feel like Mercado did enough to warrant a chance. He is aggressive at the plate.
 

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