The final part of this two-part series will look at what went right and what went wrong for the Cleveland Indians offense this season.
What Went Right:
Unlike the Tribe’s pitching, it is difficult to find a lot that went right for the Indians offense this season. The team spent most of the shortened season battling the Pittsburgh Pirates for worst offense in baseball. The Indians would get lukewarm towards the end of the season and finish 23rd in the MLB in batting average and 27th in home runs. The offense’s struggles just highlight once again how great the Indians pitching staff was and what it a miracle it was they finished second in the division.
Even with an overall down performance from the Indians lineup, there were a few bright spots. Second baseman Cesar Hernandez was worth every bit of the free agent deal he signed in the off-season. He batted .283 and led the American League in doubles with 20. Hernandez was the most consistent player for the Indians on offense as he hit well from the start all the way to the end. DH Franmil Reyes had an up and down season but did show flashes of being the type of hitter who can carry a whole offense by himself when he is hot. The next step for Reyes is to show consistency throughout the season. OF Josh Naylor was the star of the postseason for the Indians and hopefully, he will carry that into next season. Naylor hit only .230 with three doubles and two RBI during the regular season, but in the two postseason games he hit .714 with four of his five hits going for extra bases.
Third baseman Jose Ramirez was the Indians’ biggest offensive weapon over the 60-game slate. Ramirez led the Indians in almost every offensive category as he hit .292/.386/.607 with 17 homers and 46 RBI. Along with stellar defensive play at third base, Ramirez once again has found himself in the AL MVP conversation. Ramirez also had a productive albeit short postseason hitting .429 with three doubles and four RBI.
What Went Wrong:
The Indians ineptitude on offense made the 60-game season, at times, feel like a 162-game season. For the entirety of the regular season the offense struggled to score more then two or three runs and were almost no-hit by a rookie pitcher. First baseman Carlos Santana, coming off a career-best-year and an all-star game appearance in 2019 looked like he had never picked up a bat before. Santana finished the season hitting .199 with only eight homers. One bright spot was he continued his high walk rate finishing with a .349 OBP. Santana wasn’t the only black hole as the Indians stitched together outfield made fans question why they even bothered to bring a bat to the yard. Throw in the Indians defense-first catchers and there were few opportunities for them to manufacture runs.
The biggest surprise or disappointment was Shortstop Francisco Lindor as he hit just .258/.335/.415 with eight home runs and 25 RBI. He also had several uncharacteristic baserunning gaffs and at times looked disinterested and frustrated. Lindor consistently had been the offensive linchpin for the Tribe since he made his MLB debut during the 2015 season but it looked like the possible trade rumors took a toll. Though Lindor is likely to win another gold glove, this will definitely be a season he will want to forget and it is likely this was the last time Tribe fans will see him in an Indians uniform.
The biggest changes coming next season will be on the offensive side for Cleveland, besides Ramirez, catcher Roberto Perez and Reyes, the Indians lineup will look drastically different. That’s not a bad thing as it was obvious this season that the roster needs an overhaul. Don’t expect any big names to suit up for the Indians next season as they will look to trim the budget and the offense will most likely continue to struggle next season. As an Indians fan, it is unfortunate that the last images of Lindor in an Indians uniform will be him flailing at breaking balls in the dirt. The Indians championship window has closed and what a fun ride it was. There is not a more fitting end for Cleveland fans than disappointment.
All stats via: ESPN.com