Throughout 2013, I’ve been providing semi-regular headlines here at WFNY under the vein of “WFNY Stats & Info.” Often, these will be incredibly detailed split statistics showing various streaks and runs for the Cleveland teams. Today, I’d like to propose something different: A Cleveland-based prop bet.
Which will be more: Home runs hit by Jason Giambi in 2013 for the Cleveland Indians OR wins in 2013 by the Cleveland Browns? Share your response in the comments.
The gist on Jason Giambi
There’s no doubt that Giambi has been one of the premier sluggers in the last 20 years in baseball. He only has 431 home runs, but has an excellent .521 slugging percentage. For his career, entering Friday night, he was averaging 20.2 plate appearances per home run.
The difference is that he’s been a shell of his former MVP-self over the past few years. Here are the average numbers in the six seasons from 2007-2012: 90.2 games, 285.7 plate appearances, 54.8 hits, 10.0 doubles, 13.2 home runs, 40.8 walks, 62.2 strikeouts, .235/.363/.448. His plate appearance per home run statistic still remained pretty close at 21.7.
But, entering 2013, no one knew if Giambi would even make the Indians roster. He had been primarily a pinch-hitter for Colorado the last year, hardly ever starting in the field. And the batting numbers weren’t all that good. Yet, Giambi made the roster, was an excellent clubhouse addition and even belted two home runs in his first four games, totaling 18 plate appearances.
Since then? It hasn’t been pretty. Through Friday, he’s now 0-for-22 in his last eight games dating back to May 11th, with just five walks. He now has 69 plate appearances on the year. As always, getting double-digit home runs was always going to be a matter of plate appearances, but his struggles have reached a new level. Even if he were to get to 180 plate appearances, are even 8 homers a given? Certainly, it could be rationalized if the team cuts ties with him by the All-Star Break or sooner.
The gist on the Browns
Over the last five seasons, your beloved Browns have a combined record of 23-57. They’ve never had more than five wins in any of those years. They’ve gone just 5-25 against the AFC North and then underwent yet another drastic franchise makeover in this past offseason. Their GM Michael Lombardi was an incredibly unpopular hire and new head coach Rob Chudzinski was as un-glossy of a hire as they come.
So what are fans thinking? As of now, I’d optimistically put my over/under on the Browns at maybe 6.5. That’s clearly showing some faith in the continued development of the young stars on both sides. The team should be much improved defensively, but is the schedule still too tough? Will the offense produce at even NFL averages yet?
As I’ve said to friends and family countless times when discussing this fake prop bet, the city of Cleveland would be absolutely thrilled with an 8-win 2013. Fans would be screaming “Super Bowl sleeper” as 2014 approaches. In my mind, 7 wins is the breakeven point of excitement and frustration. Anything less, even to a mild nature 6 wins, could be considered a disappointment.
My vote: As I was leaning initially, despite some wavering, I’m going with the Browns. Eight days ago, this was a much closer decision. Most of my family was leaning toward Giambi, on the hopes he’d stay with the team all year and maintain at least a replacement-level form of slugging. Now? He’s been dreadful and could be cut at any moment with no qualms 1 . Yet the Browns maintain a solid pace for 6 wins or more. That’s where I’m leaning again.
Although because of his exceptional clubhouse presence, even if he is dismissed from the roster, one would expect he’d remain with the team somehow in some capacity. All indications seem to point toward him eventually becoming a manager one day.