Month in review: June

478930288Growing up in Chicago, I was all too familiar with the phrase “June swoon” while rooting on the Cubs. So often, it seemed that promising starts hit a wall in baseball’s third month, shifting fans into an early wait-til-next-year mindset.

Well, Indians fans wouldn’t be blamed for letting their thoughts wander similarly right now.

April was a bust, but Cleveland stormed through May with one of the best collective offensive and pitching performances in baseball. When the calendar flipped to June, the temperature got hot, but the Tribe’s bats went cold again. The pitching was middle-of-the-road, but the run support was nearly non-existent, giving the arms little to no margin for error.

Rock bottom arrived in Baltimore, where the Indians scored three runs in three games, included putting up 18 zeros in a doubleheader in (not-so) Charm City on the month’s final, bloody Sunday. Fortunately for the Tribe, some good feelings arrived in St. Petersburg, where the Indians ended June with a pair of impressive wins, leading up to Carlos Carrasco’s near no-hitter on July 1.

There is still plenty of time for the Indians to regain their footing and make a second-half push, but June made things a little more daunting.

Here is a look back at the month that was for the Tribe…

Overall: 11-15
Record at home: 5-9
Record on road: 6-6

Offense (AL rank)

.249 AVG (9)
.313 OBP (9)
.364 SLG (13)
.677 OPS (12)
79 R (14)
215 H (13)
18 HR (14)
62 XBH (t-13)
73 RBI (14)
10 SB (9)
79 BB (6)
197 K (8)
314 TB (t-13)
1.8 WAR (13)

Notes: The last time the Indians scored no more than 79 runs and had an OPS no greater than .677 was, well, way back in April. Oof. Before April, you had to go all the way back to June of the 1991 season to find an offensive outage of that kind in one month. And, go figure, Cleveland also did the same dubious feat in April of 1991. Baseball is weird.

Pitching (AL rank)

11 wins (12)
3.90 ERA (10)
4.22 rot. ERA (11)
3.15 rel. ERA (6)
4 saves (14)
226.1 IP (14)
29 HR (10)
69 BB (6)
212 K (6)
.245 AVG (7)
1.23 WHIP (7)
3.91 FIP (11)
2.4 WAR (11)

Notes: Let’s flash back to 1991 once again! April of ’91 was also the last time an Indians’ pitching staff had an ERA no higher than 3.90 with no more than 11 wins to show for it. I bet Paul Hoynes’ Plain Dealer articles back then detailed a lack of run support just like in June this year. In April of ’91, though, the staff went 7-10 despite a 2.61 ERA.

Player of the Month: 2B Jason Kipnis
Stats: .358/.441/.484/926, 10 XBH, 8 RBI, 15 BB, 15 R, 5 SB, 25 games

Previous winners: OF Michael Brantley (April), Kipnis (May)

Notes: Man, Kipnis really slumped through June. I mean, he hit .429/.511/.706 with 30 runs and 51 hits in May, taking home the AL’s Player of the Month award. Oh well. Looking at his June, Kipnis is the first Indians batter to have at least five steals, 10 extra-base hits, 15 runs and a .926 OPS in a month since… Kipnis did that in June 2013. In the last 10 years, only Asdrubal Cabrera (May 2011), Shin-Soo Choo (Sept. 2010) and Grady Sizemore (twice in ’08 and twice in ’06) achieved the same feat.

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Danny Salazar
Stats: 3-2, 3.82 ERA, 30.2 IP, 30 K, 8 BB, .233 AVG, 1.14 WHIP, 5 starts

Notes: There wasn’t anything particularly historic about Salazar’s month, but he was arguably Cleveland’s top start for June. I could’ve easily gone with reliever Zach McAllister here, but I decided to pick him for the next category.

Previous winners: RHP Trevor Bauer (April), RHP Corey Kluber (May)

Reliever of the Month: McAllister
Stats: 2.61 ERA, 10.1 IP, 14 K, 1 BB, .200 AVG, 0.77 WHIP, 9 games

Previous winners: LHP Nick Hagadone (April), RHP Cody Allen (May)

Notes: McAllister has developed into a solid part-time late-inning option, or a bridge to Cleveland’s setup men and closer. He’s on a short list of Cleveland pitchers to ever have 14-plus strikeouts with no more than one walk in nine-plus outings in one month. Prior to his June, that list included Chris Perez (July 2012), Rafael Betancourt (April 2004), Paul Shuey (July 2002), Sean DePaula (September ’99) and Paul Assenmacher (July ’96).

Game of the Month (hitter): 1B Carlos Santana
June 16 vs. Cubs: 2-for-3, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 RBI

Notes: Over the past 10 years, an Indians batter has had two-plus hits, two-plus walks and six-plus total bases in a game 16 times. Players on that list include Grady Sizemore (four times), Santana (three times), Jhonny Peralta (twice), David Murphy, Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Jason Giambi, Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko.

Previous winners: OF Brandon Moss (April 24), Kipnis (May 3)

Game of the Month (pitcher): RHP Cody Anderson
June 21 vs. Rays: 7.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R/ER, 1 BB, 4 K

Notes: There’s an argument to be made that Anderson’s eight-inning gem vs. the Rays on June 29 was actually the best start of the month, but I’ll go with his MLB debut due to the historical elements. Anderson joined Scott Lewis (2008), Luis Tiant (1964) and Ray Benge (1925) as the only Cleveland pitchers to log at least 7.2 shutout innings in an MLB debut.

Previous winners: Bauer (April 9), Kluber (May 13)

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Minor League standouts for June

Triple-A Columbus

Player of the Month: 1B Jesus Aguilar
Stats: .310/.352/.469/.821, 4 HR, 9 XBH, 24 RBI, 11 R, 28 games

Previous winners: OF Tyler Holt (April), OF James Ramsey (May)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Shawn Armstrong
Stats: 1.29 ERA, 14 IP, 19 K, 6 BB, .170 AVG, 1.00 WHIP, 4 saves, 10 games

Previous winners: LHP Bruce Chen (April), RHP C.C. Lee (May)

Double-A Akron

Player of the Month: OF Anthony Gallas
Stats: .326/.364/.576/.940, 5 HR, 12 XBH, 18 RBI, 24 games

Previous winners: OF Ollie Linton (April), SS Erik Gonzalez (May)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Mike Clevinger
Stats: 1.84 ERA, 29.1 IP, 32 K, 7 BB, .206 AVG, 0.99 WHIP, 5 starts

Previous winners: RHP Cody Anderson (April), RHP Josh Martin (May)

Class A (high) Lynchburg

Player of the Month: 1B Nellie Rodriguez
Stats: .341/.412/.541/.954, 3 HR, 10 XBH, 18 RBI, 14 R, 23 games

Previous winners: OF Brad Zimmer (April, May)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Justin Brantley
Stats: 1.17 ERA, 15.1 IP, 19 K, 7 BB, .157 AVG, 0.98 WHIP, 8 games

Previous winners: RHP Adam Plutko (April, May)

Class A (low) Lake County

Player of the Month: 1B Bobby Bradley
Stats: .277/.346/.574/.921, 7 HR, 12 XBH, 20 RBI, 15 R, 24 games

Previous winners: None (April), 2B Claudio Bautista (May)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Cameron Hill
Stats: 0.90 ERA, 10 IP, 14 K, 5 BB, .147 AVG, 1.00 WHIP, 3 saves, 7 games

Previous winners: RHP Dace Kime (April), RHP Nick Pasquale (May)

Class A (short-season)Mahoning Valley

Player of the Month: OF Anthony Santander
Stats: .419/.486/.903/.1.389, 3 HR, 9 XBH, 9 RBI, 6 R, 4 BB, 8 games

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Shao-Ching Chiang
Stats: 0.82 ERA, 11 IP, 3 K, 1 BB, .132 AVG, 0.55 WHIP, 2 games

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Month in review: April
Month in review: May

–JB

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