|2007 Season Postmortem: The Cleveland Indians|
Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on November 15, 2007
Lost to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS in seven games
Batting Average – Victor Martinez, .301
Home Runs – Victor Martinez, 25
Runs Batted In – Victor Martinez, 114
Runs Scored – Grady Sizemore, 118
Stolen Bases – Grady Sizemore, 33
Wins – Fausto Carmona & C.C. Sabathia, 19
Strikeouts – C.C. Sabathia, 209
Innings Pitched – C.C. Sabathia, 241.0
Earned Run Average – Fausto Carmona, 3.06
Saves – Joe Borowski, 45
Who is more valuable? A catcher who leads your team in average, slugging, on base + slugging, runs batted in and home runs or a center fielder who is first in on base percentage, runs scored, stolen bases and second in on base + slugging, home runs and walks? You could split the award, but we give the it to Grady Sizemore on account of him playing in 162 games. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Team Cy Young
The Indians had two 19 game winners in C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona and both can make good cases for themselves when the actual hardware is handed out. Sabathia plays in another league than Carmona when it comes to strikeouts (209 to 137) and K/BB (5.65 to 2.25), but Carmona is a different player who relies more on his sinker to produce groundballs and he actually bests his teammate in ERA (3.06 to 3.21) and quality starts (26 to 25). However, we still give the award to Sabathia because he pitched 26 innings more.
What Went Right
In 2006, many analysts expected the Indians to win the AL Central or at least contend, but their bullpen let them down as it produces nearly as many blown saves (23) as successful ones (24). In 2007, closer Joe Boroswki somehow managed to save 45 games despite his 5.07 ERA and Cleveland found two diamonds in Rafael Betancourt (1.47 ERA) and Rafael Perez (1.78 ERA) to lead a much improved bullpen. Fausto Carmona also deserves to be mentioned here, because his blossoming into a formidable #2 starter was hardly a given after his poor showing in 2006 (5.42 ERA as a starter and reliever). With such improved pitching, the Indians were able to hold off the Detroit Tigers to win the AL Central and then advance to the ALCS after dispatching the Yankees in four games.
What Went Wrong
The Indians had the Red Sox down three games to one and were sending out their two aces in games five and six and game three winner Jake Westbrook in game seven. The results? 1-7, 2-12 and 1-12. Even though they were only one game away from the World Series, you can’t really say they were close, can you? With a combined score of 4-31 in those three games, the blame can at least be evenly shared by both offense and pitching.
On the individual side, Travis Hafner turned from leading the league in OPS in 2006 to being number 29 this year, just outperforming the likes of Nick Swisher or Raul Ibanez (Fine players, but usually not in the same league as Pronk).
Most improbable moment of the season
ALCS, game two, 11th inning of a 6-6 game. Trot Nixon, he of the .214/.307/.322 batting line against southpaws, is allowed to pinch hit against lefty Javier Lopez. Granted, Lopez does not have such extreme lefty splits like some other LOOGYs out there, but Nixon is just really, really bad when the ball comes from the left. Anyway, manager Eric Wedge, who should have been tared and feathered for this decision looks like a genius as Nixon bloops a single to center to drive in the go ahead run. Prime example of wrong choice saved by luck. If you believe in Karma, you knew there was no way the Indians were going to win the series after that.
Up and Coming Player
The future is now for the Indians as they field a relatively young team. Sizemore (25), Martinez (28), Garko (26), Peralta (25), Gutierrez (24), Sabathia (27), Carmona (23) and Perez (25) are all on the right side of 30. They could probably use a power hitting outfielder, but it does not look like they have anyone in the minors who could help in this department the next season. They still have that Andy Marte guy somewhere, maybe he can finally do something in 2008, who knows.
What the Team Should Do in the Offseason
No player on the team hit more than 25 home runs last season (although five players hit more than 20 and one hit 18), so the Indians could use a little more pop, especially from the outfield corners where Franklin Gutierrez, Jason Michaels, Kenny Lofton, Trot Nixon and David Delluci shared the duties. Gutierrez was the best of the group and probably deserves the starting job in right for now, but GM Mark Shapiro might want to try to find someone else for left field on the free agent market or via trade.