Found March 25, 2013 on Waiting For Next Year:
Mlb-indians-tigers-apr
I’ll get to some actual predictions later this week, but today I thought I’d share with you some stat-lines I’ll be paying extra close attention throughout this year.  Think of these as “leading indicators” for how successful each player’s season might be. Michael Brantley’s On-Base Percentage – Given that he’s been in Cleveland since 2009, it’s pretty easy to forget that Michael Brantley is still fairly young.  Younger than Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana and Justin Masterson.  In fact, the only position player expected to see any regular playing time who’s younger than Brantley is Lonnie Who Loved Baseball, who can barely grow an awesome handlebar mustache.  I guess I just want to point out that any criticisms of Brantley need to be tempered by his obvious though easily forgotten youth. On the other hand, he’s not twelve.  Michael Brantley will turn 26 in May, and it’s time for him to demonstrate the OBP skill that made him such a valuable prospect in the first place.  For his minor league career, Brantley had a .388 OBP across nearly 2,500 plate appearances.  So far in the Big Leagues, he’s at only .329.  For reference, in 2012 .388 would’ve placed Brantley fifth in the AL in OBP, behind Miguel Cabrera; .329, on the other hand, is right around league average.  Of course, it’s harder to get on base in the Show than it is in the Minors, but if Brantley isn’t going to hit for power (career SLG% .376) or contribute strong defense at a position of need (adequate defensive LFers grow on trees), then he’s going to have to get better at not making outs.  Or he’ll be out of a job. The good news is that last season Brantley posted a .348 OBP, and not coincidentally he was an above-average offensive player for the first time in his career (106 wRC+).  But in LF, he’s going to have to do better than that to hold his own in a position that is dominated by strong offensive performers. Scott Kazmir’s Swinging Strike Rate – I wrote last week how excited I am to watch Scott Kazmir this season.  I don’t know why exactly, but I’ll be rooting for him to make the team and to find some modicum of success. Worry isn’t the right word, but I do wonder if we won’t have too much of a chance to see Kazmir, what with Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer both nipping at his heels.  But while is here, what I’ll be watching most closely on Kazmir is his ability to induce swinging strikes.  Check out this chart: YEAR SwStr% ERA 2005 10.9% 116 2006 12.5% 141 2007 12.1% 130 2008 11.8% 127 2009 8.7% 89 2010 7.4% 67   You get the picture: Kazmir has to induce swinging strikes to succeed.  When he’s above 10%, he does just fine.  When he falls below, things start to get ugly, and quickly.  This is mostly due to his batted ball tendency: Scott Kazmir is a flyball pitcher, and if those guys don’t get lots of swings and misses (and eventually, strikeouts), they’re going to struggle.  After all, flyballs become home runs eventually, and if you give up enough of those, you’re just not going to be able to hack it. Vinnie Pestano’s Splits – In 2012, Vinnie Pestano was about as dominant against right handed batters as any pitcher who’s ever lived.  Per nine innings, Pestano struck out 13.0 and walked only 2.2, resulting in an otherworldly 5.9 K/BB rate.  He struck out 37% of all right handers he faced.  His FIP (ERA estimator) against righties was 2.24.  Fewer than 23% of right handed batters managed not to record an out against Pestano in 2012. His problem, of course, was left handed batters.  Against lefties, his K/9 dropped below 7.0, his walk-rate climbed to nearly 4 per nine, and his FIP jumped all the way to 4.46. Perhaps the best way to break it down is this: his wOBA against right handed batters was .220, which is about what NL pitchers would put up.  Against, lefties, it was .326—slightly above league average.  In other words, Vinnie turned right handed hitters into NL pitchers and left handed hitters into Michael Bourn. Most of this probably isn’t fixable at this stage—Vinnie’s delivery is just ridiculously hard on same-sided hitters.  But there seems to be a feeling among most Tribe fans that as soon as Chris Perez moves on, Vinnie will be right there ready to close.  Not if he can’t improve against lefties, he won’t. Lonnie Chisenhall’s Isolated Power – I’ve written about ISO before, but in case you need a refresher, it’s just the difference between a player’s batting average and his slugging percentage.  In other words, how many of his hits are for extra bases?  A pure singles hitter would have an ISO of .000.  Sluggers like Adam Dunn and Prince Fielder have  ISO’s north of .250. Last season, Travis Hafner led the Indians with an ISO of .210, and he was the only one above .200.  Shelley Duncan was next at .185.  Among players who will return this season, only Carlos Santana hit for more power (.168) than Lonnie Chisenhall (.162). But a .162 ISO really isn’t anything special.  Last season that would’ve sandwiched him somewhere between Coco Crisp and Kyle Seager.  The reason I’m keying on Lonnie’s power is that he doesn’t have any other offensive skill of note, at least not yet.  His approach—especially against left handed pitching—really needs work, and until he straightens that out he’s going to strike out A LOT.  As we all know, strikeouts aren’t a big deal if you draw walks, but Lonnie doesn’t really do that either, at least not yet.  That means his one offensive tool right now is power.  I sure hope he develops his approach this season, but if not, he’s going to have to get that ISO north of .180 to have much value with the stick. There’s more than these four, of course.  We’ll watch Drew Stubbs’ BABiP (a career low .290 last season) and Mark Reynolds’ K% (below 30% would be nice) and Nick Swisher’s Bro-Ratio (likely to set all-time highs, ‘cuz he’s from O-H-I-O, BROSEPH!).  We’ll look out for Ubaldo’s K-rate (above 20%, PLEASE) and Masterson’s splits  and Brett Myers’ rap sheet.  I can hardly wait, but before then, I’ve got a prediction post to write. (Glorious, glorious) Photo Credit - Mark Duncan, The Associated Press
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Nick Swisher - Ready to rock Cleveland

Nick Swisher is ready to rock Cleveland. After four quietly terrific seasons in New York, Swisher is now taking his laughter and baseball delight to a dugout where he will be teamed up with old Yankee nemesis, Terry Francona. Swisher reminds me of cats--you either love him or hate him. The word, "douche" seems to come up a lot on Twitter from baseball fans and writers...

Francona changing the way Tribe plays baseball

Terry Francona has often described his managerial by saying he wants to put players in the best position possible to succeed. Which sounds pretty esoteric. It wouldnt seem smart to put guys in spots to fail (though it does happen). But spend a few days with Francona in Goodyear and instances arise that demonstrate what the Indians new manager means. The examples relate to individuals...

Indians release Daisuke Matsuzaka

The Cleveland Indians have released right-handed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. By releasing Matsuzaka the Indians can avoid paying him a $100,000 bonus. Matsuzaka was reunited with former Red Sox manager Terry Francona in Cleveland but dealt with cramping in his right calf. He was told last week th......

MLB News: Asdrubal Cabrera Scratched from Lineup with Back Injury

According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Asdrubal Cabrera injured a muscle in his back in the batting cage this morning and was subsequently scratched from the lineup for Sunday afternoon’s game against the Chicago Cubs.  Manager Terry Francona indicated that Cabrera would be out of the lineup both Sunday and Monday, but given that back injuries often linger, there...

Daisuke Matsuzaka Released From Minor League Contract by Indians

Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s reunion with Terry Francona was short lived. The Cleveland Indians released the right-handed pitcher on Sunday. Matsuzaka was signed to a minor league deal on Feb. 10. Matsuzaka pitched in four games with the Indians during spring training. He allowed 10 hits in eight innings, but surrendered just two runs for a 2.25 ERA. He struck out three and allowed one...

Indians rumors: Cleveland shopping David Huff

The Cleveland Indians have told David Huff that he will not make the team and will thus become a trade candidate this spring, according to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer. #Indians have told Ezequiel Carrera and David Huff, both out of options, that they won't make the club and they will try to trade them. — paul hoynes (@hoynsie) March 25, 2013 The Indians...

Spring Training Game #29: Indians 10, Rangers 5

The bats were as scorching hot as the Arizona sun Saturday in Peoria as the Indians and Mariners combined for 15 runs off 34 hits with the Tribe doubling up Seattle 10-5. Scott Kazmir struggled for the first time in Cactus League play this spring, but isn’t expected to lose much ground in the race for the fifth starting rotation spot, which is expected to be decided between him...

The Indians release Matt Capps

The Cleveland Indians have released right-handed relief pitcher Matt Capps from his minor league contract. The Indians signed Capps on January 31st to help fill out and bolster an already loaded bullpen. Capps had been an effective reliever in the past, starting his career off with the PIttsburgh Pirates. From 2005-2009 with the Pirates, he woked his way into the closer role...

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Matt Capps stay with Indians

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) -- Daisuke Matsuzaka and Matt Capps are staying with the Cleveland Indians. The pair agreed to minor league contracts on Tuesday after being released from their previous deals with Cleveland. The Indians used the moves to get around the provision in baseball's labor contract that requires a 100,000 retention bonus if a player is not released by Tuesday or...

Spring Training Game #30: Cubs 4, Indians 3

LINEUP Bourn -  CF (Carrera) Aviles - SS (played whole game, later moved to LF) Kipnis - 2B (Raburn) Swisher - 1B (McGuiness) Brantley - LF (Hernandez - SS) Santana - C (Jeroloman) Reynolds - DH (Gomes) Chisenhall - 3B (Antonelli, Phelps - PH in 9th only, did not take field) Stubbs - RF (Holt) PITCHERS Jimenez - 7+ IP Allen - 1 IP Shaw - 1 IP The story of the day was clearly Ubaldo...

MLB News: Indians re-sign Matsuzaka, Capps to minor league deals

The Cleveland Indians have formally agreed to terms with starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and relief pitcher Matt Capps. The terms of the deal were unannounced, but both deals were of the minor league variety and both players will report to Triple-A Columbus after the close of big league camp. Per Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, it appears that — despite the luxury...

2013 Minor League Spring Game Recap: March 25th

The Cleveland Indians' farm teams took on the affiliates of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday in the eighth of 11 scheduled inter-organization preseason exhibition games. Trevor Bauer started for Columbus, T.J. House for Akron, Jacob Lee for Carolina and Luis DeJesus for Lake County, and Arthur has the details on how all of them did as well as several standout performances in the lineup.

Disuke Matsuzaka released by Cleveland Indians

When Disuke Matsuzaka, from here on in to be referred to as Dice-K, arrived in Boston in 2007 his expectations were sky high. People expected the "gyro" ball pitcher from Japan to be the Japanese version of Pedro Martinez from the Dominican Republic. The $100 million price tag, $50 for the rights to talk to him and $50 million over a 5 year deal made Dice-K the most expensive...

The Nostalgia League: April results

Batter of the Month 1995 left fielder Albert Belle spent the month of April pummeling opposing pitchers hitting to the tune of .371.  His 11 home runs and outstanding 31 RBI were worthy of the Player of the Month Award. In 1995 Belle led the Indians to the playoffs for the first time in 41 years and the Indians won the AL pennant before losing in six games to the Atlanta Braves...

Bye, bye Dice-K; Indian release Japanese pitcher

Daisuke Matsuzaka's bid to bounce back from injuries and poor performances may be over.  The Cleveland Indians released the 32-year old pitcher yesterday.  Matsuzaka was contemplating returning to pitch in Japan if he could not find Major League work.  That might be his best option now. The Indians today released RHP DIASUKE MATSUZAKA from his Minor League contract that...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.