30/30

Indians manager Manny Acta can always be counted on for putting things in perspective.

A few days ago, when asked about the recent struggles of his first-place club, Acta was quick to note that things really aren’t going as bad for the Tribe as it might seem.

“We had a worse year last year than we’re having right now,” Acta said.

The man has a point. Coming off back-to-back 90+ loss seasons, the Indians are 34-26 and sitting atop the American League Central standings. Of course, the Tigers are knocking on Cleveland’s door, lurking only one game behind as of this writing.

Acta’s point was made, though. Entering the season, if Indians fans were told that three pitchers would wind up on the DL, Carlos Santana and Shin-Soo Choo would be underperforming, Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner would endure more health woes and, somehow, the Indians would be in first come June 10…

… who would have complained?

And, yet, there are fans who’s fingers are flirting with the panic button. Shoot, some have already started pressing it repeatedly.

A hot start will do that for a fan base. Cleveland roared out of the gates with solid pitching, strong defense and timely hitting. Over the past month or so, the pitching has had its ups and downs, the defense has remained solid with a few moe hiccups here and there and the hitting, well, that’s been a key to the slide.

Now, there are a few ways you can examine this tale of two teams.

One could go back to May 3, when the Indians were 20-8. That date is significant because that was when the Tribe wrapped up a seven-game winning streak. Or, you could splice it at May 18. That’s when Hafner went down with his oblique injury. Or, there’s May 23, when the Tribe was a season-high 15 games over .500 (30-15).

For the purposes of this blog, I’m just gonna cut the season so far in half: 30/30.

The First 30 Games

Record: 21-9 through May 5

Offense
Runs – 155 (5.2 per game)
Hits – 280 (9.3 per game)
AVG – .271
OBP – .341
SLG – .427
OPS – .768
Left on base – 207 (6.9 per game)
Strikeouts – 215 (7.2 per game)
Walks – 105 (3.5 per game)
HR – 34
2B – 54

Pitching
Innings – 275
Runs – 106
Earned runs – 101
Unearned runs – 5
ERA – 3.31
HR – 20
Strikeouts – 190 (6.3 per game)
Walks – 94 (3.1 per game)
Hits – 239 (8.0 per game)
Pitches per game – 143.8
Total pitches – 4,313
Total strikes – 2,730
Strike percentage – 63%
Inherited runners scoring – 22%

Notes: Played 9 games against teams with records above .500 (as of June 9). … Played 21 games against teams with records below .500 (as of June 9). … 15 road games and 15 home games. … Opponents: Royals 7, White Sox 3, Red Sox 3, Mariners 3, Angels 3, Orioles 3, Tigers 3, A’s 3, Twins 2.

The Next 30 Games

Record: 13-17 through June 9

Offense
Runs – 120 (4.0 per game)
Hits – 238 (7.9 per game)
AVG – .241
OBP – .306
SLG – .386
OPS – .691
Left on base – 174 (5.8 per game)
Strikeouts – 216 (7.2 per game)
Walks – 83 (2.8 per game)
HR – 25
2B – 58

Pitching
Innings – 266
Runs – 147
Earned runs – 133
Unearned runs – 14
ERA – 4.50
HR – 29
Strikeouts – 174 (5.8 per game)
Walks – 74 (2.5 per game)
Hits – 288 (9.6 per game)
Pitches per game – 140.1
Total pitches – 4,203
Total strikes – 2,682
Strike percentage – 64%
Inherited runners scoring – 31%

Notes: Played 20 games against teams with records above .500 (as of June 9). … Played 10 games against teams with records below .500 (as of June 9). … 13 road games and 17 home games. … Opponents: Rays 6, Rangers 4, Red Sox 3, Angels 3, Blue Jays 3, Reds 3, Twins 3, Royals 2, White Sox 2, Mariners 1.

What does it all mean?

I think it’s fair to point out the the competition has been stiffer in the most recent 30-game stretch. That said, it’s also fair to note that the offense has not been the only issue. Jumping from a 3.31 staff ERA to a 4.50 ERA is not a good sign. Of course, the Tribe played 10 of the last 30 games against teams that currently reside in the AL’s Top 5 for runs scored.

The defense has regressed as well, as you can see by the increase in unearned runs from 5 to 14. That said, the pitching staff has been allowing nearly two more hits per game, which has put a little more pressure on said defense. On the plus side, the staff is still pounding the ol’ strike zone.

One would hope that by getting Hafner back, and potentially seeing Santana and Choo improve to their expected levels, that the OBP and SLG will bounce back. Since Hafner went down, the team’s walk rate has predictably decreased. The production with runners in scoring position has dropped as well.

So, make of these numbers what you want. While you do, remind yourself that there are 102 games left and the true nature of this Indians team is likely somewhere between the First 30 and the Next 30 totals.

In the AL Central, that might be good enough to stay in the race down the stretch.

~JB

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