Every year I make a computer background for the Indians single season leaders. This year 24 stats were split among seven players (four hitters, one starter and two relievers). The overall winner was Shin-Soo Choo with six.no comments
|Name:||Stephen Francis O'Neill||Position:||Catcher/Manager|
|Accolades:||Top 25 MVP (1913, 1922)|
|Best Season (1920)||149||489||63||156||39||5||2||71||211||69||39||3||0.41||0.43||0.32||0.84||0.11|
|Post Season Career||7||21||1||7||3||0||0||2||10||4||3||0||0.44||0.48||0.33||0.92||0.14|
O'Neill was the second longest tenured catcher in Indians history (after Jim Hegan), spending over a decade crouching behind the plate in Cleveland. In 1913 O'Neill took over the starting role from light hitting catcher Ted Easterly. He maintained as the starter through 1923, the longest string of consecutive seasons for an Indians catcher without missing a significant time due to injury. Among Indians catchers, O'Neill is first in career hits, doubles and walks and among the top five in runs, triples, total bases and steals.
Arguably the most important time of O'Neill's career came in 1920, when the Indians won their first World Series. In that seven game series, O'Neill played all seven games (one of five players to do so) and his seven hits were only second to player/manager Tris Speaker. Most impressive was the fact that he caught the entire series with back-up catcher Les Nunamaker only receiving two at bats during the series. While you can't give him too much credit, he did call the games for the entire pitching staff in that series that ended with a 0.88 ERA, strongly supported by Stan Coveleski's three complete game performance.
In the mid 1930's O'Neill returned to manage the Indians, running the Tribe for 373 games over three seasons. One of many former catchers to return to manage the Tribe, his .534 winning percent remains among the best by an Indian manager to control the team for more than a single season.
Steve O'Neill died in 1962. He was considered for the baseball Hall of Fame, one year getting 5% of the BWAA vote, but simply didn't have the credentials. He was inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame in the inaugural class in 1951.
Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti has said at multiple times this year that no player is safe from trade talks, that every player is available for the right price. I hope he is lying.
The Indians primary goal is as it should be, to win a World Series championship for the first time since 1948. However, this shouldn't be the only goal. There is a secondary goal, which is to win the Series legitimately, with a team that was grown rather than assembled or purchased. Which team do you think is more proud of their championship, the 2009 Yankees, a team almost entirely purchased, filled with All-Stars gathered from around baseball, or the 2010 Giants, who won with a team mostly of internally developed players like Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner.
By saying that every player is available to at least be talked about, Antonetti is basically saying that no player on the team is better than anything he could bring back in trade. While there are many players that are expendable on this team, a few are not (at least not now) and are not worth any price another team could give. Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley would be the first two on that list. Both players were paid less than $500,000 for 2011 and are still under team control. The best player in the league, Miguel Cabrera, wouldn't be worth trading Kipnis for as the Indians couldn't afford to pay his salary and they would still lose a player that is more productive for his position. If he isn't worth the best player in the league, how could any other player be good enough to trade for Kipnis. Brantley is worth a slightly smaller amount, but is certainly worth far more than any team would be willing to give for him.
The next level features players who are not untouchable, but are promising enough the Indians would have to blown away by an offer. None of these players should be traded for prospects no matter how good, because they all were great prospects, but have already made it to the majors, taking away the risk of flopping. This list includes Lonnie Chisenhall, Zach McAllister and Vinnie Pestano. Going along with the original point, even trading these players for more valuable players shouldn't be a priority as it would mean more for the Indians to win with these home grown players rather than someone traded for a single season. Using young players like this also increases the amount of years the Indians should be able to contend as they are under control for years still.
With all these players unavailable for trade, the Indians need to have a few players available to move to improve the team. These are veterans whose time under control is ending or young players that are particularly over valued. Chris Perez is the first of these. He should not be traded because of the things he has said or for a low level player, but if the Indians could find a team that over values closers (and a lot do), he should be made available. A player who throws 60 innings a year is simply not as important as one who plays in 162 games. The Indians are very deep in relief pitching from Cleveland through Lake County. Cody Allen proved that this year. Pestano is ready to take over the reigns in the ninth and, while I would prefer to see Perez play his entire career with the Tribe, a starting outfielder, DH or firstbaseman is more important. Joe Smith and Tony Sipp are also in this boat, although they would have less value to other teams, despite the fact that Smith is almost certainly the best pitcher in the group.
There is one more player that needs to be mentioned here and that is right fielder Shin-Soo Choo. Choo is still under control for 2013 (his third year of arbitration), but has Scott Boras as his agent, leading many baseball writers to believe he will be leaving as a free agent as soon as he can. This was so severe that either Boras or some writers started a rumor that the Indians were looking to trade Choo at the All-Star break. Boras is famous for taking players from small market teams (like Alex Rodriguez from the Mariners) and getting them signed for record deals with larger market teams (like the Rangers). Somehow, a lot of his clients end up one the Yankees for some reason or another (they control 6 current or former Boras clients, only one of which came up with the team, Robinson Cano).
Unless the Indians can get something amazing for Choo, they should keep him. He is a top 20 MLB outfielder and seems to like playing for Cleveland. As with the other players brought up in Cleveland, he is worth more to the Indians because of that past loyalty. Any player the Indians got for Choo would not be as good in 2013 as Choo should be. What Antonetti does with Choo this off-season will be very telling of what he expects out of this team next year. More than any of the other players listed, the trading of Choo would signify another rebuilding process.
The Indians don't need to go crazy this off-season. The core of the team is already in Cleveland and they need to add to it, rather than exchange it for an equal or lesser option. Cleveland can't be New York, Boston, Detroit or Miami so they shouldn't even try. Keep the arbitration eligible players and try to add players through free agency or possibly by trading prospects for pros, the opposite of the Indians usual dealings. This team is ready to win now and showed that when they signed Terry Francona over Sandy Alomar, Jr. It's now up to Chris Antonetti and the rest of the front office to fix the holes in this team.
As always, Burning River Baseball is here with your Indians-centric view of the world.
The Orioles (former Indians: Jim Thome), beat the Rangers (no former Indians) in the first Wild Card single game playoff, then went on to face the Yankees (former Indians: Derek Lowe, Jayson Nix and the fat man) in one of the closest matched ALDS I've ever seen. Each game was within a single run going into the 9th inning and two games went into extra innings. In the end the Yankees came away with the victory with C.C. Sabathia on the mound.
In the other American League match-up, Oakland (former Indian: Coco Crisp) lost in five games to the Tigers (former Indian: Jhonny Peralta). This gives Indians fans another series to root against their Central Division rivals.
In the National League, the Cardinals (former Indian: Ed Mujica) sneaked by the Braves (former Indian: Chad Durbin) on an botched infield fly call, then went on to win a five game series against the Strasburg-less Nationals (no former Indians). Despite missing Steven Strasburg, it was the Nationals relief pitching that killed them in game five, with star closer Drew Storen walking the bases loaded before blowing a two run lead with two outs in the ninth.
The other NLDS match-up featured the Reds (former Indians: Brandon Phillips and Ryan Ludwick) who completely blew the series against the Giants (former Indian: Guillermo Mota) after being up 2-0. Since the Reds were the team picked to follow by Burning River Baseball, we no longer have a dog in this fight. The rest of the playoffs will be for hoping for the Yankees and Tigers to lose. Since they are playing each other it will guarantee a half happy ending.
The best play by a former Indian had to have been this one by Coco Crisp, robbing a Prince Fielder home run in game three against Detroit.
Crisp was also the hero in game five when he ended the game with a walk off single to tie the series and force a game five.
Moving on, the Tigers and Peralta will head to New York to take on the Yankees and the traitor Sabathia. This will be a battle of old money vs. new money, while those with no money are forced to watch at home. The Cardinals will go on to face the Giants in San Francisco for the National League title. If all this seems familiar, it's because it is. Three of these teams won the last three World Series and the other last in the Series in 2006.
Since 1996, the remaining teams have been to the World Series a combined 13 times with 1997, 2005, 2007 and 2008 being the only seasons not featuring one of this year's Division Series winning teams in the World Series. This year will bump that number to 15 times in 17 seasons. One of the only Yankee/Tiger/Cardinal/Giant free World Series was 1997 which featured the Cleveland Indians against the Florida Marlins. That's just to bring things back full circle so you don't forget what this website is about.
"The Lee Award" for Most Improved Player - Shin-Soo Choo
No Indians had amazing comeback seasons this year, although just like last year, there were plenty of contestants. Instead, the award goes to Choo, who has been a great hitter over his entire career with the Tribe, but fell off a little last season. This year he came back to what he had been in each of his previous seasons, only better. Choo set career highs with 43 doubles and 88 runs scored. He also recorded his third season of 20 or more steals.
2011 Winner - Justin Masterson
"The Super Joe" Rookie of the Year Award - Zach McAllister
The Indians had very few rookies playing prominent roles on the team this year after using a whole slew last season. The only choice for the 2012 ROY is McAllister. In fact, he was not only the best rookie on the team, but the best starting pitcher overall. He had a lower ERA, BAA and WHIP than every other primary starter although he didn't pitch enough innings to qualify for rate stats (placing him around the 11th best pitcher on the team in these stats, unqualified). He did start 22 games, third most on the team, despite not being on the team for opening day. He did fall off a bit during the last month of the season, but still ended up ahead of all the other starters.
2011 Winner - Vinnie Pestano
"The Steve Olin Memorial Award" for Best Reliever - Vinnie Pestano
The back end of the Indians bullpen was absolutely fantastic this year, helping the Indians win more games than they should have according to Pythagorean Theory. This was primarily three pitchers, last year's winner, Joe Smith, Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano. Pestano lead all pitchers (who pitched at least 20 innings) in ERA, WHIP and BAA. He also struck out more batters than all but three starting pitchers, 76, good for a 9.77 K/9, also best on the team. Pestano set a new team record with 36 holds, only blowing 3 of 41 potential save/hold opportunities.
2011 Winner - Joe Smith
"The Big O" for Most Outstanding Defender - Michael Brantley
There may be a "Big O" curse as last season's winner ended up being one of the worst defenders on the team in 2012. The ultimate choice was really hard for this season, with two players earning consideration. Casey Kotchman was exactly as expected at first and still remains the top defensive first baseman in MLB history with a .9977 fielding percent. He certainly saved an unknown amount of runs and errors from the wild throws coming from the left side of the infield. He was constantly tested and never failed. Brantley was not tested as much, but when he was, the tests were much harder. Brantley made just a single error all season and was able to make diving catches as well as a few impressive wall climbing grabs. He also had five outfield assists, second most just to Shin-Soo Choo.
2011 Winner - Jack Hannahan
"The Golden Belle" for Most Outstanding Hitter - Shin-Soo Choo
Not only did Choo improve himself this season, he beat out every other Indians player offensively. Choo lead the Tribe in games, at bats, runs, hits, doubles, OBP and SLG. He did all this while batting lead-off for a large part of the season as Manny Acta felt he couldn't trust any other player to get on base to start an inning. He still knocked in 67 runs (Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana lead the team with 76), despite being moved out of his usual power position into one that asked for more patience at the plate and more speed. He complied with the speed part as well, stealing 21 bases and only being caught 7 times.
2011 Winner - Asdrubal Cabrera
"The Addie" for Best Overall Pitcher - Vinnie Pestano
In addition to the basic statistics mentioned before, a very important part of this award is confidence. The best pitcher on the team should be the one that the team turns to when it needs a win. There were no starters who garnered any confidence this season, not a single one that could change a losing streak into a winning streak. However, the bullpen was as close to perfect as it could have been and this was mostly to do with Pestano and Perez. Whenever these two came into the game, Indians fans just knew it would be a win. The two pitchers combined for seven total blown saves in 131 total games. Pestano was just a little bit better than Perez with 12 more innings pitched and three less runs allowed.
2011 Winner - Justin Masterson
"The Rose Award" for Best Overall Player - Jason Kipnis
Choo and Kipnis had almost identical seasons offensively. While Choo had more doubles and home runs, Kipnis had more RBI, triples and steals. Choo had better rate stats, but struck out 40 more times. The slight edge that Choo had to take the Golden Belle Award was not enough to surpass Kipnis' superior defense this year. Kipnis' .991 fielding percent was the highest among all regular starters, except for Kotchman and Choo and he plays a much tougher position than either of them. Choo's defense was also more conservative this year, with very few diving plays and only 7 assists compared to 34 over the past three seasons. Kipnis on the other hand, was constantly getting dirty. He also has become a very dependable double play partner for Asdrubal, turning 94 twin killings in 2012.
2011 Winner - Asdrubal Cabrera
Check here for the 2011 Burning River Award recap.no comments
Continued from yesterday's 1-15:
16. Justin Masterson (2) Below
Masterson would win the award for most disappointing player if there was such a thing. He was so good in 2011 there were Cy Youngs talks going on about him during the All-Star break. This year, he fell off in every part of his game, ending with an ERA of 4.93 and a WHIP of 1.45. He was better than Jimenez in every facet of the game, but he was better last year too, and should have been this year. The biggest problem this season was inconsistency. Masterson would go out and dominate one or two games, then get destroyed the next two. He ended the season 11-15, a very fair record of his actual performance during the y.
17. Russ Canzler (17) Above
If any player made the most of his September call-up, it was Canzler. He had 25 hits in just 26 games, while playing on a fairly consistent basis over the last month of the season. Most of the hits were singles, but 3 were home runs and he did knock in 11 runs. Not only did he play first, but he also did a decent job in left field. The Indians signed Canzler with the possibility of him being the starting first baseman for the entire season, but signed Kotchman shortly after, ending that thought. He ended up spending almost all season wrecking AAA pitching, until he finally got his shot. If the Indians don't make any moves in the off season, Canzler is their best option at first base in 2013.
18. Frank Herrmann (18) Above
Herrmann only pitched about 20 innings in the season, but was absolutely fantastic. He looked like a completely different pitcher, throwing a spiked curveball for the first time and confounding hitters. He allowed just 5 runs and 16 base runners while striking out 14. His rate stats were better than any other pitcher on the team, but they would certainly have come a little closer to normal as he pitched more innings. Either way, he has deserved some more consideration for the 2013 team as he has obviously matured as a pitcher.
19. Lou Marson (19) Below
Marson is a great back-up catcher as he puts absolutely no pressure on Santana for the starting job. Here are a couple of impressive stats about Marson's season. He grounded into the same amount of double plays (10) as he hit extra base hits. He had more steals (4) than home runs (0) and the most important stat of all, he played in 70 games. A .226 hitter played in 70 games.
20. Jason Donald (17) Below
Donald was one of the few hitters to make Marson look good. As a contact hitter, he struck out 40 times and walked just five while batting .202. As a defensive back-up he made seven errors (.926 F%). The most impressive part of his game was his seamless change to extra outfielder late in the season with Lillibridge taking most of the extra infield at bats. While teams always need a versatile player who can help out with off days and baserunning/late inning defense, the Indians do not need Donald.
21. Cody Allen (16) Above
Allen was just drafted in 2011 and blew through the minors this year, finding himself at the top level fairly early in the season. He was amazing at first, not giving up a run in his first month, but regressed some after that, ending with a 3.72 ERA. Allen is another pitcher talked about that may have closer stuff, so he should definitely be returning to the pen in 2013. With the glut of pitchers the Indians already have available for relief duty, they should be able to avoid signing another useless Chad Durbin or Dan Wheeler this off season.
22. Brent Lillibridge (19) Below
Lillibridge is a little bit of an enigma. He was traded twice in the season, coming to the Indians when they certainly weren't looking for another utility player. After coming to the Tribe he looked a lot better than with Chicago or Boston, hitting three home runs in 43 games after having none with either prior team. Overall he was atrocious offensively (.216 AVG), but he was also poor defensively. While playing infield there were multiple times where he fielded an extremely easy grounder and proceeded to launch the ball over the first baseman's head. This seemed to be from more of a lack of concentration than lack of ability, which makes it even less forgivable. There are very few players in baseball that can just relax and nonchalantly play the game, even less that stick around if they try to do that. Lillibridge is not one of those. The worse you are at baseball, the harder you have to try. Players who are trying hard don't lightly toss a ball ten feet over the first baseman's head from around second base.
23. David Huff (23) Above
Huff is a tricky pitcher. He will come out and pitch great his first few times out every year, then start to get worse and worse until you wonder how he could even be the same person. He started this year coming in for Gomez in relief twice and was so good, he was moved to the rotation. There he also pitched well until his last couple of starts. He didn't log enough innings to get to the point where he became a whipping boy, but he appeared to be close, pitching 10.2 innings in his last two starts and allowing 10 runs (4 unearned). Huff is not to be trusted and should not be part of the team next season.
24. Tony Sipp (16) Below
Sipp started the season very poorly. Before the All-Star break he had an ERA of 5.65 in almost 29 innings, this coming down from a 7.71 ERA in April. Part of this was likely improper pitching management as he was almost unhittable (.209 BAA, 1.01 WHIP) against left handed hitters all season, but was not nearly effective (.250, 1.58 WHIP) against right handers. In the past, Sipp has been available for use against multiple batters, such as when there are two lefties sandwiched around a righty, but that is obviously no longer the case. Sipp is now the traditional left handed match-up guy, although there is still value in that.
24. Chris Seddon (22) Above
26. Matt LaPorta (26) Below
Do a search on the site for LaPorta. This topic has been covered past nausea.
27. Scott Barnes (24) Even
Barnes joined the team in late May as one of the teams most touted pitching prospects. He was terrible during that stint with the Tribe, but was recalled again after Hagadone punched himself out of the league and again as a September call-up. Barnes finished strong, giving him some of the most divergent split stats you will ever see. At home he threw 9 innings, allowing no runs, but on the road he threw 10 innings and allowed 9 runs. His day/night splits are almost the same, giving up a single run during 9.2 innings at night with everything else happening during the day. He allowed all 9 runs in June and July, going perfect as a call-up in September, despite pitching the same amount of innings as the other two months combined.
28. Cord Phelps (27) Below
There was a time when Phelps was considered a rival for the future second base job with Kipnis. That time is long passed. This year he didn't play enough to judge, although he did play well in the minors. The same could be said for Neal and Rottino, so all three can be covered here. When September call-ups were made it was announced that the primary player to look at was Canzler and that these three hitters would only get the few scraps of playing time left over. Combined they had only 84 at bats, hitting two home runs and walking twice as well. Young players tend to press, so the lack of walks is not completely surprising, but if they would think before swinging, they would realize that management values good knowledge of the strike zone rather than a couple of lucky singles. None of the three players was able to make a good impression with their short time with the team, which must be disappointing for them considering that they are all getting pretty old for minor leaguers.
29. Thomas Neal (28) Below
30. Vinny Rottino (30) Below
31. Corey Kluber (21) Even
32. Ubaldo Jimenez (8) Below
If Masterson had one to two bad games for every good, Jimenez had three to four. Not only was he ineffective in those games, but things usually got out of hand quickly. When he pitched well (which happened in about 10 games of his 31), he was incredible, throwing a curve ball that dropped from the top of the strike zone to the hitters ankles and mixing in his fastball which still has a little pop. On most days, however, he struggled with control and patient hitters forced him to throw bad pitches just to avoid walks. It is not that Jimenez avoided walks, he allowed more than one every two innings, it is just that he gave up a lot more hits. He will certainly be back next year, despite his 5.40 ERA and 1.61 WHIP, as his price and potential are too good to give up.
33. Jeanmar Gomez (4) Below
Gomez is kind of the opposite of the McAllister group as he actually had expectations coming into the season. Gomez was the strongest pitcher coming out of Spring Training and made the team simply on the merits of that month. He pitched fine enough early on, but as the season went on his problems became more apparant. Shortly after the All-Star break he was removed from the rotation and wasn't reinstated until September, when he was pulled again after just a couple games. One bright point for Gomez is that he pitches very well when used in relief and has the stamina to be a long reliever.
34. Scott Maine (34) Below
Maine pitched a total of 6 innings in 9 games, a red flag if there ever was one. Three of those games, he gave up 2 runs in an inning or less, including one where he didn't record a single out. This lead to an ERA of over 10.50, a WHIP over 2.60 and a pitcher who should not even be thought of in 2013.
35. Roberto Hernandez (24) Below
Hernandez (the pitcher formally known as Fausto Carmona) was the epitome of disappointment in 2012. He missed over half the season with legal issues, then struggled in his three starts. Hernandez lost all three starts and absolutely deserved to. In his final start he was removed early from the game due to a sprained ankle and never returned to the team. The fact that the Indians didn't push to get him back in the rotation or at least the bullpen shows that they don't expect him to return in 2013.
Still here, just hurt:
Josh Tomlin Below
Tomlin pitched poorly (6.36 ERA) over 21 games before blowing out his elbow and getting Tommy John surgery. Because the injury occured so late in the year, he will be out for the entirety of 2013.
Nick Hagadone Below
Hagadone's biggest issue this year was his temper. Through May he was fantastic, used as a left-hander out of the bullpen and keeping an ERA near 2.00. When it started to fall apart for Hagadone, he couldn't take it, despite the fact (or maybe because of it) that everyone else on the team was going through the same thing. His ERA ballooned over 6.00 and he blew his final game of the year, giving up two runs in 0.2 innings. After that, he blew up his hand by punching something in the dugout, successfully ending his season and his paycheck. He deserves a second chance because he has a lot of talent, but he needs to keep his emotions in check if he is going to be successful in the future.
Rafael Perez Below
Perez pitched the second least amount of innings on the team, despite being a good pitcher. He injured his elbow early in the season and despite repeated attempts to comeback, missed the entire season.
Still here, but back in the minors:
Luke Carlin Even
Carlin played 4 games for the Tribe this year and he might as well not have. A throw in from the Cliff Lee trade, Carlin missed all of 2011 because of Manny Acta's infatuation with Marson and was unable to fairly compete for job this year as well. He wasn't even brought up in September with the Indians using Rottino as a third catcher when necessary instead. The fact is that Carlin can't possibly be worse than Marson, so he should have been given a chance each of the last three years and should next year as well.
Juan Diaz Above
Diaz played in five games in the middle of the year, straight up from AA, when Cabrera was day-to-day with a small injury. The Indians decided to go with Diaz rather than Phelps most likely because they knew it was a short term stint with the team and didn't want to interrupt the work he was doing in AAA. I guarantee Phelps would rather have been on the Indians for those five games.
Still here, because no one else would take them:
Aaron Cunningham Below
With a .175 batting average, Cunningham was by far the worst hitter on a very bad offensive team. There should be some kind of award for not only what he did this year, but what the Indians let him do. It's not like Cunningham was an electric outfielder that was so amazing he made up for his shortcomings on defense (like Carrera is). He is just not good at baseball. In fact, he was one of five players released near the end of the season that were so bad, no other team in the league would touch them.
Shelley Duncan Below
If giving 97 at bats to Cunningham was a shame, giving 232 to Duncan was a travesty. Even the one thing Duncan is supposed to be there for, he didn't do very well. Here are a few Indians hitters with less at bats than Duncan who beat his .388 Slugging Percent: Carrera (3.95), Chisenhall (4.30) and Canzler (.398). With all three of these players in the minors and capable of outplaying Duncan at his position (either left field or DH), it makes no sense that he was allowed to flounder in the big leagues for as long as he did.
Dan Wheeler Below
Wheeler only pitched 12 games for the Tribe this year and held an ERA around 9.00 before being relegated back to Columbus. He then spent the entire season in AAA, despite his opportunity to leave and seek Major League employment elsewhere.
Jeremy Accardo Even
Accardo was the best of all the terrible relief pitchers signed prior to this season, but he still wasn't very good. Once the Indians realized the players they already had a home were better than anything that could be found elsewhere, they released the trash, including Accardo.
Johnny Damon Below
Damon should not have been signed, then should not have been played and finally should have been released far earlier than he was. Somehow, the Indians front office thought that Damon would be a better replacement outfielder for Grady Sizemore than Carrera would be and wasted a considerable amount of time and wins in a meaningless experiment. The fact that no one signed Damon before the season started or after he was released proves that he has nothing left.
Jairo Asencio Below
Signing Asencio during late March was possibly the stupidest decision made all year. He cost a player a roster spot on the 40 man and kept a much more talented reliever, like Hagadone or McAllister from making the team to start the season. He was out of options so Tribe management felt they have no choice but to play him and he made them pay. Asencio pitched 18 games and allowed 17 runs before being released and joining the Cubs.
Derek Lowe Even
Lowe was the only member 2012 Indians to make the playoffs this year, even though when he pitched for the Tribe he was almost guaranteed not to make it through the fourth. The Yankees moved Lowe into long relief, something the Indians should have done about two months before he was actually released.
Jose Lopez Even
Lopez signed with the White Sox after a surprisingly decent time with the Indians. Lopez mostly played third base while the Indians were burying Chisenhall in AAA. During a short time he was so good, he was used almost daily in the lineup, sometimes as designated hitter. Lopez did knock in 28 runs this year, not that bad for a utility who only played a short time with the team.
The Indians season is over, so this will be the last Player Rankings of the year. Next season this segment will be changed to be a Player Power Rankings and will be directly coralated to the Player of the Game equation. Today's ranking will differ from the others done this season (April, May, June, July, August and September) as it will list each players highest point on the rankings during this season, followed by an evaluation of their performance in 2012 compared to preseason expectations. The list is still a ranking of each players importance to the team during this past season.
1. Jason Kipnis (1) Even
The one thing keeping Kipnis from a second successful season was his .257 batting average and subsequent .335 OBP. Kipnis should be working on becoming the perfect top of the lineup hitter, which will include getting on base at a very high rate, and he is simply not there yet. A few of the other aspects of the speed game have already been conquered by Kipnis, however. His 31 steals are the most since Grady Sizemore in 2008 and he is only the second Indian to steal 30 bases in the last 12 years. He also lead the team with four triples in addition to his other 36 extra base hits.
2. Shin-Soo Choo (1) Even
Choo lead all Indians in 2012 in OBP and SLG, while still stealing 21 bases. The problem with Choo's season this year stemmed from his change from middle of the lineup hitter (where he belongs) to lead off hitter. In his first three season, Choo hit 14, 20 and 22 home runs, with expectations for him to increase his power as he matured as a player. What happened instead is he was turned into a lead-off hitter, simply focused on setting the table for the following hitters. The problem is that the Indians don't have any power hitters so they need to take advantage of what they do have. Choo did hit another level in hitting doubles with his 43, the most since Sizemore hit 53 in 2006.
3. Carlos Santana (2) Even
Santana lead all Indians with 76 RBI and 91 walks. If based on just the second half of the season, Santana would have far exceeded his expectations. After the All-Star break, Santana hit .281 with 13 home runs and 45 RBI, but his .221 average and 5 home runs before the break really took down his season. The best part of his game is that he walked more than 40 times in each half, although his SO/BB ratio was much better in the second half. Santana understands the importance of getting on base and has a great eye at the plate, which doesn't fail him when he is struggling.
4. Michael Brantley (3) Above
Brantley did everything that could have been asked of him in 2012. In addition to his magnificent defense, he played in 35 more games than last season, getting more hits, doubles, RBI and walks while raising his batting average by more than .20 points. Brantley was everything a dependable centerfielder needs to be, taking just 6 games off all season that weren't for injury. He is the player who should be hitting lead-off for the Tribe, allowing them to move Choo back down in the lineup. He has the perfect skills for lead-off, with a good awareness of the strike zone and ability to get on base. He also hit 37 doubles and four triples, but just 7 home runs, so it is not wasting his power to bat him lead-off, but actually helps as he can move himself along the bases. His one drawback in 2012 was that he was caught stealing nine times in just 21 attempts. This rate needs to be improved for him to be a threat on the bases.
5. Asdrubal Cabrera (2) Even
It is kind of unfair to compare Asdrubal to his 2011 season as it will probably be the best in his career. No one expected him to do what he did then, and no one should expect it from him again. This year was certainly a much more typical season as he hit 16 home runs with 68 RBI, down from 25 and 92 a year ago. What is impressive is that he kept his average around .270 still, and while that might not be good for the AL as a whole, it's great for the Indians. Only Choo and Brantley managed a batting average above Cabrera this year and no one hit over .300. Cabrera's fielding is one place that needs work. While he has excellent range and makes plays that should keep him on Sports Center for years, he also doesn't make plays. Cabrera had 19 errors this year, most in the AL. While some of these errors are caused by his good range, because he can get to balls other players can't, but then can't make a play on them, many have to do with poor throws, or bobbles on what should be routine plays. Kotchman certainly saved him from having even more errors this year. Cabrera will have to work on these fundamental plays if he ever wants to grab the Gold Glove, that he should be able to take.
6. Vinnie Pestano (5) Above
A team's best pitcher should never be in the bullpen, but Pestano is something special. He pitched in 70 games this year and struck out more batters (76) than all but three starters. He also broke the team record for holds (with 36) and pushed it to a new level. If there is one reason Perez got as many save opportunities as he did, it was Pestano keeping the other team from coming back during the 8th inning, setting the game up for Perez. When the two pitched they were unbeatable. Pestano came in for the save or hold 41 separate times and blew a total of three. In just his second season, Vinnie has basically had the greatest two consecutive seasons for any Indians relief pitcher ever.
7. Travis Hafner (1) Below
Any year that Pronk spends more days on the DL (74) than he does in the lineup (66) it is a recipe for a disappointing season. What is most disappointing is that he still ended up being the 7th most important player on the team despite missing half the season to injury. If you just look at his SLG and OPS, he had a good year, second to just Choo in the first and Choo and Santana in the second stat, but there is a lot more to baseball than that. Hafner hit 12 homeruns (pretty good for his amount of playing time), but just knocked in 34 runs. That's almost to a Duncan level of non-production. For those who think that he didn't get enough chances, Hafner stranded 63 runners in scoring position, more than any other player with less than 460 at bats. Hafner had 219 at bats.
8. Chris Perez (7) Above
Much like Pestano, Perez was almost perfect this year. He is already among the top four closers in Indians history when considering total saves and completion percentage. Although he is outspoken, he gets his job done well and that's all that should matter. With Perez having the 9th locked down, the whole bullpen falls into place with Pestano in the 8th and Smith in the 7th. This provides an almost unbeatable bullpen for any pitcher who can get himself through the 6th.
9. Joe Smith (9) Above
Smith is the third part of the Indians Bullpen Mafia that remains solid since 2011. Like the other two, he is almost unhittable (.213 BAA), but he doesn't strike out as many hitters as Perez or Pestano. Because he wasn't used as exclusively in close games as either of the other two pitchers, Smith actually pitched more games(72) than any other pitcher.
10. Casey Kotchman (7) Below
There were only two things the Indians were looking for coming into this season as the Tribe's biggest free agent pick-up, his famous "greatest defensive firstbaseman in MLB history" glove and a decent batting average, like the one he had last season for Tampa Bay. Kotchman was everything as expected defensively. While he did make a couple errors, he certainly saved more errors from Cabrera and Hannahan than he caused. On the other part, he failed miserably. Kotchman was, by far, the worst Indians regular hitter ending the season with a .229 batting average. While many Indians hitters had a poor first half, most were able to salvage the second half of the year to bring them to respectability. Kotchman was not able to do this.
11. Esmil Rogers (11) Above
Rogers came to the Indians through a mid-season trade with Colorado. He had struggled his whole career with command, despite having electric stuff. As soon as he moved closer to sea level he showed the kind of promise the Rockies must have originally seen in him. With Cleveland, he struck out 54 and only walked 12, definitely far away from having a control problem. In fact, it is a ratio about twice as good as the Indians own Smith. After a long trial period, Rogers become a trusted member of the bullpen and ended up pitching in 44 games. There is no part of Rogers game that can be faulted after he joined the Indians and he should be an important member of the bullpen in 2013.
12. Jack Hannahan (4) Below
After Kotchman, Hannahan was the most disappointing regular starter. Of course, he wasn't supposed to be more than a stop gap while waiting for Chisenhall, but a stupid front office move combined with a hit by pitch made Hannahan the most used third baseman. Not only was he bad offensively, but he was even bad on defense, he one supposed skill. Hannahan commited 14 errors, second most on the team and had a dreadful .949 fielding percent. Offensively, he was worse than replacement level with both Carrera and Canzler vastly outperforming him in their short times with the team.
13. Ezequiel Carrera (13) Above
Carrera only played 48 games with the team, but he should have played much more. Carrera had higher rate stats across the board than Damon, Duncan, Cunningham and Lillibridge, all the other players mainly used in left field this year. This shouldn't even have been a surprise as he played well while with the team last season. He is also a much better defensive outfielder than anyone else on the Indians 40 man roster. While he is prone to a stupid mistake from time to time, these occur a lot less often then the errors caused by lack of ability from the other players. He also brings about an element of speed often missing from Indians teams over the past decade. This year he stole 8 bases, just being caught once and hit three triples, one shy of the team lead, in very limited time.
14. Zach McAllister (7) Above
McAllister is the first of a group of pitchers all used as starters (or long relievers) that came in with no expectations and gave something back to the Tribe. This group includes Seddon and Kluber as well, so rather than write the same thing three times, I'll just put it here once. All three pitchers came into this year with little or no Major League experience and were immediately thrown into a terrible situation where they were asked to take on much more responsibility than they should have. McAllister was asked to be the ace of the staff in his first full year with the two supposed aces struggling, Seddon was forced to bounce between starter and reliever without any notice and Kluber was changed from relief pitcher in 2011 to starter in 2012. All pitchers struggled at times, and all outperformed my expectations of them. All three deserve a chance to make next year's team, with McAllister already earning a spot in the rotation.
15. Lonnie Chisenhall (14) Below
This has to have been an incredibly disappointing season for Lonnie. He came into Spring Training as the favorite for the starting third base job and didn't even make the team out of camp. It wasn't until the middle of the season before he got his first chance, then he was hit by a pitch on his arm, breaking it. After how well he played in his short time with the team last season, it was sad to see him in just 43 games this year. In those games, he did not play well, knocking in just 16 runs, even though he hit five home runs.
The rest of the team rankings will be coming tomorrow, including those players who are no longer with the Indians.
Sometimes it seems like baseball fans and writers get a little too stat obsessed and it happens here too. Today is a great day to look past numbers and enjoy the beauty of baseball with the top ten defensive plays made by the Indians in 2012 as rated by me. All season I keep track of every decent defensive play, giving them a rating of "Above Average", "Great" or "Amazing." This year there were 154 Above Average plays, 58 Great plays and 10 Amazing plays. We'll start off with five, not quite amazing plays, followed by the Cleveland Indians top ten defensive plays of the year.
The five that almost made it:
#10 Kipnasty Getting Dirty
Against the Royals' Chris Getz, Jason Kipnis made a full dive running to his left to stop a ball and make the throw to first. The play occurred with no one on and ended the 7th inning. It is the only representation on the countdown of what was a great season defensively from the Indians athletic second baseman.
#9 Willie Mays Style
Michael Brantley recorded the first out in the second inning on June 3rd with this tremendous catch on a Ryan Doumit fly ball. Brantley showed great awareness by extending his arm far ahead of himself on a dead sprint to make the play.
#8 Lilly's Vanishing Act
With the whole crowd dressed in yellow to celebrate Felix Hernandez's first start after his perfect game, Brent Lillibridge made this interesting catch. At the first look, he disappears behind the wall as he grabs the ball down the foul line. With the second look, you can see Lilly flip his glove around to make better use of the webbing. This is pretty impressive considering he was in mid-air at the time and he spends half his time playing the infield. The play occurred in the 8th inning against the Mariners Michael Saunders.
#7 A Damon Dive
The amazing part of this play was, believe it or not, not the Rick Manning live read for fireworks (although it is amazing listening to an artist at work). The incredible part of this play is that Johnny Damon still has the ability to get his entire body off the ground at once and that he is willing to do it sideways. Indians fans may want to forget that Damon was ever on the team, but don't try until you have seen this replay just one more time.
#6 Donald Takes It To The People
Jason Donald made this catch to end the fourth inning in a game against the Tigers while playing third base (one of the many positions he played for the Tribe this year). Donald showed no fear or regard for his own, or the fans safety as he came up with the ball, diving into the stands. Matt Underwood said it best when he said, "the glove comes out, ball still in there," while Rick Manning worried solely about the children.
#5 Brantley Robs Rios 3 Run Home Run
Everyone loves a wall climbing grab that steals a home run, especially one that keeps three runs off the board. This certainly wasn't the only time Brantley stopped runs from scoring on defense, but it was the most acrobatic. This particular three run saving catch came back in May, when the Indians were in first place, against the Chicago White Sox and Alex Rios. The Indians ended up losing this particular game by 7, but they could have lost by 10.
#4 To The Left: Full Extension Mid-Air Catch
This dive is much more impressive than Damon's, because Ezequiel Carrera was running at full speed (and his full speed is much faster than Damon's), he had to run further and reach higher as well. Carrera couldn't possibly have made this play without going all out. This play was for the second out in the fourth inning against Seattle. The fact that this is the third play on the list by an Indians left fielder and all three are by different players exhibits the Indians problems finding a productive outfielder. It also shows that their productivity problems were not on defense.
#3 Shifty Cabrera Catches Morales Bare Handed
Asdrubal Cabrera was playing second on this play because of the shift and Kendrys Morales hit the ball right where he would have been if he had been playing normally. This didn't phase Asdrubal as he ran across the infield, grabbed the ball barehanded and got Morales for the last out of the inning, stranding Angels rookie Mike Trout at third base.
#2 Asdrubal's Choice: Barehander To Second
This is the type of reaction play that makes Cabrera the most fun player to watch on the Indians. While he can have problems throwing on some of the more typical plays, he excels on do-or-die plays like this or the last one. Cabrera has some of the greatest baseball instincts I've ever seen falling somewhere short of the dream team of Omar Vizquel and Roberto Alomar in the late 1990's. With a few years of seasoning, Kipnis and Cabrera could be performing ballet on the infield. While neither of his plays this year would have beat his top three from 2011, they are still the top for 2012.
#1 High Flying Carrera
Ezequiel Carrera grabbed the top spot in this years countdown with this fantastic diving catch. In the past two years, Carrera has only played towards the end of the season and as a fourth outfielder, but has managed to find himself with three plays in each of the past two season's top 15 plays, more than any other player. This shows how exciting a player he can be. The best part is that his plays are not because he has limited range and has to dive for balls other players would easily handle, but because he is actually making plays most outfielders can't.
All video courtesy of MLB.com
|Name:||Terrance Lamont Turner||Position:||Short Stop|
|Nick Name:||Cotton Top|
|Accolades:||Top 25 MVP 1913|
|Best Season (1906)||147||584||85||170||27||7||2||62||217||35||42||27||.338||.372||.291||.710||.080|
Terry Turner won the award for longevity if there ever was one. Only catcher Jim Hegan had a longer career as a hitter with the Indians. From 1904-1910 Turner was the starting shortstop for the Naps, then started at third base for the majority of the time between 1911 and 1914. Turner stuck around as a utility infielder until 1918 and during that whole time, managed to play in more games than any other player in the history of the Cleveland Indians. That incredible amount of time, the equivalent of playing every single game in a modern (162 Game) season for a decade, allowed him to accrue some impressive stats, including being third all time in career at bats and steals. He is also in the top ten in hits and triples.
Turner played with Cleveland almost his entire career, excluding his first season after being signed by Pittsburgh in 1901 and his last season when he was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics in 1919 after being released by the Indians. In total, he played all but 40 games in his career for Cleveland. After his career was over, he stayed in Cleveland until his death in 1960.
Terry Turner was the first of a very long line of extraordinary Indians shortstops. When Turner was moved to third base, his replacement was a young short stop named Ray Chapman. Chapman played until his death in 1920 and was replaced by Hall of Famer, Joe Sewell. A few short term players took over during the 1930's when Sewell moved to third, until Lou Boudreau took over in 1940. This line of short stops is among the best in baseball history and Terry Turner was the forefather of them all.
At this point, it is fairly well known that the Indians have chosen Terry Francona over Sandy Alomar, Jr as the next manager of the Cleveland Indians. The Indians had two choices, representing two extremely divergent paths in the two managers. Alomar is a representative of the past. He is a huge part of Indians history and one of the most popular players that is still alive. He is loved by the players and respected and would bring in some fans who are looking for some 1990's nostalgia.
Francona on the other hand, is someone who, while he has played for the Indians and been part of the front office, has no real ties to Indians players or fans. He is a known winner, being the first manager to bring a championship to the Boston Red Sox in an eternity in 2004, then he did it again in 2007. He was able to control players that ended up being very hard to deal with, like Kevin Youkilis and Manny Ramirez and was able to get the absolute most out of some aging players, like Curt Schilling and youngsters like Dustin Pedroia and Jonathan Papelbon. His experience in the much more competitive American League East should bring a new view point to the more laid back AL Central.
The Indians made the right choice. While Alomar would have been a fun manager and would have brought a few extra fans in for a short period, Francona is more experienced and has a better chance of winning right off the bat. Bringing a winning team back to Cleveland is what will really bring the fans in long term, not simple 90's nostalgia. The best of both worlds would be for Alomar to retain as bench coach, where he has been a great influence over the past couple of years. He has helped Carlos Santana immensely on defense and will be an asset to whatever team he is part of. The Indians would probably be the hardest team for him to manage, because he has so much invested in the team already. Instead of thinking mechanically, like Francona most likely will, he may start to manage with his heart, which can never go well. Also, if he does struggle, the players are more likely to lose confidence in him than Francona as he has so much less experience.
Most likely, Sandy will get his managers role with some team this offseason, whether it is with Francona's former team the Boston Red Sox, or another team who has tired of their leadership. The Tribe showed their goal really is to win, rather than just to placate a few fans who probably don't know half the players on the current roster. The kind of fans that complain about the Indians not having a Kenny Lofton or Roberto Alomar type player, yet don't even know Jason Kipnis or Michael Brantley's names. The fact that the Indians were so quick to announce Francona, they just interviewed him yesterday, show how easy the decision was for them.
Now that the manager has been hired (it will be officially announced on Monday), Terry Francona can go about assembling his coaching staff. The sooner this whole process is finished, the better off the team will be. Chris Antonetti needs to work hand-in-hand with Terry when deciding which trades to make and which free agents to sign. The faster this is finished, the better off the Indians will be when competing with other teams for talent during the offseason.
Congratulations to new Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona and good luck to Sandy Alomar, wherever you end up in 2012.