Saturday, November 4, 2017

Analyzing the Tribe's 2017 Season + Postseason

the Cleveland Indians won over 100 games this season, 102 to be exact, for only the second time in franchise history and first time since 1954. they were the favorites to win the American League pennant and many predicted them to win the World Series as well. unfortunately, to every Tribe fan's dismay, they didn't even make it out of the Division Series. so while the 2017 regular season was exciting and filled with highlights, the postseason was crushing. now i'm here to give you a final recap of the Tribe's year and my annual player evaluations.

and i want to apologize for posting this later than i would have liked. once i started going back over all the players' seasons and postseasons, i realized there was quite a lot to cover and i needed to make sure i included all the big and important stuff. i was very thorough and i hope you enjoy my analysis!

note: this blog is LONG, and i do mean LONG. feel free to just read what you like about who you like and what interests you the most. or, read it all over several days. whatever you prefer.πŸ“–✌☮


Looking Back at the Team's Most Memorable Moments

i'm going to spotlight some of the Tribe's best and worst moments from the 2017 campaign now. because i
have the detailed player evaluations further down in this blog, i kept this section team-oriented.

the Indians had six walk-off wins this season. their first was a walk-off in the 10th inning of the Home Opener versus the Chicago White Sox on April 11. the second came on July 22 in the 10th inning versus the Toronto Blue Jays. walk-off #3 occurred a few days later on July 25 versus the Los Angeles Angels in the 11th inning. the next one took place on August 8 in the 9th inning versus the Colorado Rockies. after that, they walked off in the 9th inning on August 21 versus the Boston Red Sox, and finally versus the Kansas City Royals on September 14 in the 10th inning. Joshua Dakwar put together a fantastic video on his youtube channel with all the walk-offs; check that out for more details on who the heroes of the games were and what they did at the plate. his video also featured the Tribe's one walk-off win in the American League Division Series on October 6 versus the New York Yankees in the 13th inning.

from May 14-30, the Indians hit at least one home run in 16 straight games. nine different players were a part of this streak, with Jason Kipnis leading the way with six homers during this time. he also, along with Edwin Encarnacion, had one multi-homer game as well. Encarnacion had five total home runs, Lonnie Chisenhall had four, and Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana had three each. Jose Ramirez hit one and Bradley Zimmer hit one too, marking his very first Major League home run. (source: Joe Noga.)

the longest losing streak suffered by the Tribe this season was four games, when they lost the last game before the All Star Break on July 9, then got swept coming out of the break by the Oakland Athletics in three games from July 14-16. they had several three-game losing streaks this year, but just the one four-gamer. prior to this, the Indians had not lost that many games in a row since July 23-28, 2015, in which time they were the losers of six straight.

after losing five of their first six games following the All Star Break, the Indians went on a 9-game win streak between July 21-29. they swept the Blue Jays at home, won a makeup game versus the Cincinnati Reds at home, swept the Angels at home, and won two games on the road against the White Sox.

the Indians wrapped up Interleague Play this year on August 9 and finished with a 6-14 record against National League opponents in 2017. this was their biggest regular season struggle, i'd say. here's a list of which NL teams they played and how did they: Arizona Diamondbacks, 0-3; Reds, 2-2; Los Angeles Dodgers, 1-2; San Diego Padres, 1-2; San Francisco Giants, 1-2; and Rockies, 1-3.

on August 19, after beating the Royals, the Indians became the only team in Major League Baseball to have three 12-game winners in their rotation.

this year, the Indians tallied 14 consecutive road wins, setting a new franchise record between August 21 and September 21. this broke their previous record of 12 straight road wins set back in 1922. it's also the longest single-season American League road winning streak since 1984, when the Detroit Tigers went 17-0 on the road. (source: Noga.)

one of the biggest highlights of the season was the American League record-setting 22-game win streak. it's also now the second longest streak in Major League history. when it began on August 24 versus the Red Sox, nobody could have imagined how far it would stretch. the Indians went on to sweep the Royals, Yankees, Tigers, White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and Tigers again, then won the first game of the series versus the Royals on September 14 before finally losing on the 15th. while Mike Moustakas acknowledged the Indians' historic accomplishment with grace and class, his teammate Eric Hosmer opted to yell, "fuck that streak!" as he high fived everyone on the field following KC's victory.πŸ‘ŽπŸ˜’πŸ™Š

within that 22-game win streak, the Indians also won 11 consecutive games on the road between August 28 and September 7 after beating the Yankees, Tigers, and White Sox. it was the first time in club history that they ever went 11-0 on a road trip!

the Indians claimed their second straight AL Central Division crown on September 16 after the Blue Jays beat the Minnesota Twins, eliminating Minny from the race. the Indians were already at their homes and not at the ballpark because their game had taken place earlier in the afternoon, so they celebrated on the field in front of fans the next day on September 17. all the details from those festivities can be found in my separate blog, The Indians Are the 2017 AL Central Division Champions!

photo courtesy of Chuck Crow via The Plain Dealer

the reason the Tribe won their division is because they had great success when facing each of their divisional foes. in fact, they essentially ran away with the division once the 22-game win streak began taking shape, and finished with an astounding 17-game lead over 2nd place Minnesota! individually, the Indians had a 13-6 record against the Tigers, 12-7 record against the Royals, 12-7 record against the Twins, and 13-6 record against the White Sox in 2017.

the Indians set another franchise record on September 24 when they won their final road game of the season against the Seattle Mariners, giving them 53 road wins overall.

all year long, pitchers Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco had a side project going on during games in the dugout. as long as the Indians were winning, the two would create mini baseball replicas of every player on the team, using only items they found in the dugout or clubhouse. by season's end, they had an entire mini-ball team that bore such an accurate resemblance to the real thing, it was unbelievable. on September 29, the Tribe gave away a limited supply of mini-ball team photos to fans.

photos courtesy of @Indians on twitter

when the game on September 30 sold out, that gave the Indians 13 sellouts total for 2017. it was the most sellouts in a year since 2001! (source: Terry Pluto.)

the Indians ended 2017 with 11 straight series wins. they swept the Royals (August 25-27), swept the Yankees (August 28-30), swept the Tigers (September 1-3, four games), swept the White Sox (September 4-7), swept the Orioles (September 8-10), swept the Tigers again (September 11-13), won three of four versus the Royals (September 14-17), swept the Angels (September 19-21), won two of three against the Mariners (September 22-24), won two of three versus the Twins (September 26-28), and won two of three versus the White Sox (September 29 - October 1).

on October 1, the Indians defeated the White Sox in their final game of the season to give them 102 wins for the year! it was the second most wins in Tribe history, as only the 1954 team had more victories with 111.

photo courtesy of @Indians on twitter

they also finished with the best record in the American League and second best record in MLB. had they advanced past the ALDS, the Indians would have had home field advantage in the postseason until the World Series. in addition, the Tribe's 102-60 showing was Terry Francona's best year with the Tribe in his five seasons. (more on this can be found in the next section.)

i can't ignore what happened after that. probably the toughest moment of all had to have been the result of the American League Division Series. the Indians played the winner of the AL Wild Card game, which just so happened to be the Yankees. while some worried about Aaron Judge's bat, Tribe pitching made him a non-factor. regrettably, the Indians' own hitters had a very difficult time against Yankee pitching, batting .171 altogether. besides that, some of the guys were getting sloppy on defense and the team as a whole committed nine errors--three times more than their opponent--and had a .953 fielding percentage. after winning the first two games of the series at home, the Tribe lost both games in New York as well as Game 5 at Progressive Field. and so ended an amazing season, one of the best in Tribe history, way too soon. (further details about the ALDS can be found in the Overview section of my Brantley's 2017 ALDS #s blog.)

lastly, here are some other final numbers and rankings for the Indians' 2017 (regular) season:

--offensively, the team finished 2nd in the American League with 574 extra base hits, 333 doubles, 604 walks, and .263 batting average.

--offensively, the team finished 3rd in the American League with 818 runs and 2,476 total bases.

--Indians batters also struck out 1,153 times, the 2nd fewest in the American League.

--defensively, the team had the highest fielding percentage (.987) and fewest errors (76) in the American League.

--Indians pitchers had a combined 3.30 ERA, the lowest in Major League Baseball.

--the Tribe allowed 564 runs in 2017, the fewest in Major League Baseball.

did i leave anything out that you feel should have been cited here? let me know in the comment section!


Terry Francona Has Heart (Problems)πŸ’”

Terry Francona led his squad to a phenomenal 102-60 record this year, the second best record in the Major Leagues. only the Los Angeles Dodgers did better, going 104-58. the Tribe's 2017 campaign was also Tito's personal best record in both his five years with the Indians and in his 17 years so far as a manager.

but it was not all smooth sailing for the skipper this season. Tito dealt with some serious health scares midway through yet made a seemingly quick recovery. it started on June 13 when Francona left the game versus the Dodgers early and went to the hospital. bench coach Brad Mills took over the managerial role for the rest of the night. the team said Tito was light-headed and the doctors determined he was dehydrated. he returned to his post the following day.

on June 26, Francona had to leave during the game versus the Texas Rangers. this time it was announced that he left with light-headedness and a rapid heart rate, which he again went to the hospital for. several tests ruled out any major health issues, but he was required to wear a heart monitor for a few weeks and push a button whenever he felt his heart racing. he was released from Cleveland Clinic on June 27, but did not manage that night's game. Mills took over again and Tito came back on June 28.

prior to the game on July 4 versus the San Diego Padres, Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti told reporters that Francona had been admitted to the Cleveland Clinic for additional testing and would not be managing the night's contest. Antonetti continued to explain that the doctors were trying to narrow down what was causing Tito's symptoms and that he could be away from the team for a day or two.

Francona went on to miss the July 5 and July 6 games versus the Padres before news came out that he underwent a cardiac ablation in the afternoon of July 6. the heart procedure was done to correct an irregular heartbeat. Francona was discharged from the hospital on July 7, but the team specified that he would not be rejoining the Indians until after the All Star Break on July 14. an unfortunate consequence of this meant that Tito would also be unable to manage the American League in the All Star Game, a privilege he earned because the Indians won the AL pennant in 2016. Mills managed all the games he missed with the Indians up to the break, as well as the AL All Star Team (who won the game, 2-1, in 10 innings) in Tito's absence.

Francona did meet the team out in Oakland for their first series following the break against the Athletics, and he didn't miss another game.πŸ‘ this was also around the time that the Indians finally found their groove and started stringing together more wins than losses after a rocky, up-and-down, mediocre first half.

it was a very good thing that Tito got his heart strong again because he uses it often as a manager, or more accurately, player's manager. but maybe he shouldn't have depended on it so much regarding what i'm going to talk about next. every manager makes debatable decisions at different times during a season, but Francona got some of the blame for what happened in the postseason. he made a few unpopular choices with many of the Tribe's fandom, beginning with the players he selected to be part of the 25-man American League Division Series roster. first off, fans disliked the makeup of the bullpen. they questioned why reliable relievers Dan Otero and Nick Goody were left out. Francona confessed it was difficult to tell them they wouldn't be making the roster, but also believed having starters Mike Clevinger and Danny Salazar in the bullpen was the better option.

Tito really took a big hit for the inclusion of a still rehabbing Michael Brantley on the roster as well, especially when Edwin Encarnacion went down with an ankle sprain and Brant had to step in to take his place. (i personally didn't have a problem with that, because i assumed Michael would in fact be using the ALDS to find his timing at the plate again and then be better offensively once the team got into the American League Championship Series. but they never advanced, so we didn't get to see how Michael would have done.) i heard writers' claims that Francona felt bad for Michael and didn't want to exclude him for a second straight postseason and he made that decision with his heart and not his head. meanwhile, fans complained that Yandy Diaz should have gotten Michael's spot on the 25-man. i don't know how that would have worked out though considering the Tribe's top three hitters in the lineup were laboring at the plate throughout the entire series...

then of course there was the starting rotation debacle. why did Francona allow Trevor Bauer to pitch Game 4 on short rest? why didn't he keep Josh Tomlin as the starter instead of using him out of the bullpen in a previous game? and if he knew Corey Kluber was battling something, whether a recurrence of back pain or another issue, why did he let him start two games?

i admit i was pretty upset myself with many of these things and shortly after the loss, i took out my anger in a What Went Wrong for the Cleveland Indians in the 2017 ALDS blog that held Tito accountable and used him as a scapegoat.

despite that, there's still no other guy i'd want managing my Cleveland Indians. Terry Francona is probably going to be nominated for AL Manager of the Year again, an award he won last season. i don't think he'll be victorious this time, but when you lead your team to 102 wins and they set a historical record, you're going to get some kind of recognition.πŸ˜‰

how do you think Tito did this season as the skipper? leave your thoughts in a comment below!


note: the rest of this blog contains several paragraphs that are italicized. those symbolize some of what i wrote in my Indians Spring 2017 Recap, Player Evaluations, and Predictions blog once spring training ended before the regular season began. if you don't want to (re-)read those excerpts in the Analyzing the Players section further down in the blog, feel free to skip some or all of them and just read the actual player evaluations. i like to include the blurbs here for reference, but be advised they do add to the length of this post.


My Preseason Predictions vs. Reality

now let's see how i did with my preseason predictions regarding the Tribe's record, playoff matchups, and what i thought was going to be an advantage for us this year that we did not have one year ago.

if everyone plays to their maximum capabilities and we don't have to endure too many serious or persistent injuries, then i think this team as currently constructed will have a win-loss record of 92-70. honestly, the Indians are a shoo-in to win the AL Central Division. that's not me being cocky, that's me logically looking at the other teams in the division and realizing that everyone else is facing some problems. i believe we'll own the Central.

so i think it was an easy call to predict that the Indians would win the division, though for most of the season they did not have a comfortable lead in 1st place. that didn't come until the last month of 2017, when they were in the midst of that extraordinary 22-game win streak. but i never ever would have thought to predict over 100 wins, which undoubtedly came to be as a result of that streak. both our pitching and hitting were clicking at the same time and so on point. it was an outstanding regular season performance and i have never been so happy with being wrong.

the ALCS matchup i'm seeing this year is Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox. i have to go with the biggest favorites here. sorry to everyone else in the American League, your season is gonna be irrelevant. and i'm undeniably drinking the Kool-aid because i am actually predicting my Cleveland Indians to be the AL Champs again and return to the World Series for the second straight year. i'm not saying it's gonna be a cakewalk though. this series winner may not be crowned until Game 7.

forget about the ALDS, i went straight to predicting the Championship Series. how ironic that both these teams were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, but especially sad for the Indians. and i'd like to offer my apologies to the Houston Astros; i never saw you fellas as being a threat this year. major props to you and thanks for knocking the New York Yankees out of the postseason, something i still can't believe we could not do.😞 

the NLCS matchup is harder for me to decide because i'm not as familiar with National League teams as i am AL. but after thinking about it for a while, i have chosen the Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals. i think this series will go at least 6 games, and while i am very tempted to pick the Nats here, i genuinely believe the Chicago Cubs will be the NL Champions again.

not even close. more apologies to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

okay, so maybe it's a little boring or unlikely that both the Indians and Cubs will return to the Fall Classic. after a change in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the All Star Game no longer designates home field advantage, so it doesn't matter if the AL loses that game in July. while i don't have a prediction for what the Cubs' win-loss record will be, i do foresee them accumulating more wins than the Tribe, giving them the advantage this year. nevertheless, i don't view that as a key factor: i'm picking the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series in 6 games!

while the Cubs did at least advance to their Championship Series, they were no match for the Dodgers. they say it's very difficult for a team to return to the World Series the next year after being in it, and clearly the Indians and Cubs are more proof of that. 

btw, Sports Illustrated has predicted a Los Angeles Dodgers-Cleveland Indians World Series with the Tribe coming out on the losing end once again.

well, they were half right on the teams. congrats to the Astros, i guess.πŸ™

how did your preseason predictions pan out? let me know if you fared better than i did in the comments. 


some things that might make a difference this year that we didn't have last year:

--Encarnacion's bat. i'm banking on this guy hitting at least 35 homers and driving in close to 100.

--Andrew Miller in the bullpen for the entire season. those Ks are gonna add up quick.

--Carlos Santana being in his walk year. sometimes that's all it takes for a player to be at the top of his game.

--Yan Gomes back healthy. fingers crossed. basically any production we can get from the catcher's position is a bonus.

--Michael Brantley. if his August surgery eliminated all his shoulder and biceps pain, then this gives us a huge advantage.

i was definitely right on like two and a half of these. Encarnacion did what he was expected to do, finishing the year with 38 home runs and 107 RBI. while Miller was on the team for the whole season and totaled 95 strikeouts, the Tribe lost him to a knee issue for most of August and almost half of September. it seemed like Santana was putting too much pressure on himself at first in 2017, but he became much more effective in the second half, which he has a tendency to always do. Gomes had his ups and downs with his bat, but between he and Roberto Perez, 94 RBI came from Indians catchers this season. and lastly, Brantley. his shoulder and biceps problems are a thing of the past, but lamentably, he developed a new condition with his right ankle, missing 60 games and leaving two games early because of it. i'm gonna get into all the specifics of each player in a little bit.


No Longer Cleveland Indians

ordinarily, the Indians experience a barrage of roster moves throughout a season, causing several players to be designated for assignment/casualties of new additions. this year, however, the team managed to get back everybody they DFA'd. that's very rare, but i'm sure the players were pleased.

the only strange case was that of Daniel Robertson. he was DFA'd on August 10 to make room for Jay Bruce on the 25-man roster, then was released and re-signed to a minor league deal on August 16. but by September 1, the Indians reported that Robertson opted out of his contract and became a free agent. if he did that, then i don't see him rejoining the Tribe again in the future.


The Free Agents

Carlos Santana's contract with the Indians, the one he signed in 2012, ran out once the team lost the American League Division Series. the Indians will surely give him a $17.4 million qualifying offer. (they can do so on November 6 and then Santana has until November 16 to accept it.) but while Santana has stated that the Tribe is his family and he wants to stay here, he may change his mind if he thinks he can receive a multi-year deal and more money with another team.

Bryan Shaw finished his five-year tenure with the Indians and what a job he did. it's his right to now experience free agency and see if he can get a big payday elsewhere, which i believe he will. the Indians won't extend a qualifying offer to Shaw, but could possibly attempt to negotiate a new contract. this is a guy who made more appearances than any reliever in baseball since 2013. that's not easy to replace with only one person and that's someone whom another team will give a lot of money to. we will realize next season when he's gone just how reliable he actually was and be sorry he left.

the Indians took a chance on Austin Jackson, who was trying to come back from the surgery he had last year for a torn left meniscus, by signing him to a one-year, minor league deal in the offseason for up to $5.5 million ($1.5 mill base, $4 mill in incentives). lucky for him, he ended up opening the year with the Tribe. the risk paid off because even though he had some (other) minor ailments throughout the season, Jackson was an integral piece of the outfield, especially when several OFs went out with injuries. he proved to everyone that his knee was fine and that he can still play, so he's probably in line for a nice multi-year contract with somebody, but it won't be with Cleveland. he won't be getting a qualifying offer from the Indians either.

the Tribe acquired Joe Smith during the season on July 31 after trading minor league left-handed pitcher Thomas Pannone and 2nd baseman Samad Taylor to the Toronto Blue Jays. neither prospect was ranked in the Top 30, but i was disappointed to see Pannone in the deal because he'd been doing really well this year and showing a lot of promise. for a two-month rental, i don't know if Smitty was worth it. sorry. Smith was added to the 25-man roster on August 1 and became an important part of the bullpen. while Smith was very happy to be back with the Tribe, i'm not sure if the reunion will be short-lived or if the Indians will offer him a contract to return in 2018 and/or beyond. he is ineligible for a qualifying offer because he did not spend the entire season with the team, nor does he warrant one from us anyway. 

Jay Bruce joined the Indians thanks to Michael Brantley's right ankle woes. the deal with the New York Mets was done on August 9 and cost the Tribe right-handed pitcher Ryder Ryan from Single A Lake County and $3.7 million. Bruce was added to the 25-man roster on August 10 and became the team's regular right fielder. rumor has it he is now looking for a deal in the four-year, $60 million range and he is definitely not going to get that from the Indians. he's also not going to get a qualifying offer because he's not eligible for one either.

Boone Logan was signed by the Tribe in early February to a one-year, $5.5 million deal with a $7 million option or $1 million buyout for 2018. because he strained his left latissimus dorsi muscle in July, missed almost the entire second half of the season, and decided against having surgery, there is no way he's coming back next year.

Craig Breslow signed a minor league deal with the Tribe on August 4 and his arrival to the Indians came on August 26. he was pretty much just bullpen backup and won't be returning.

many more details about these players' performances with the Indians this year can be found within the Analyzing the Players section below.


Analyzing the Players

this is what you really came here to see, am i right? now i am going to give my analyzations of each individual player who played with the Indians in 2017--even the ones you may have forgotten about. i'm also going to include short performance summaries for those who were on the 25-man postseason roster. i'm separating the guys based on outfielders, DH, infielders, utility, catchers, starting pitchers, and bullpen pitchers. if a player played multiple positions this year, i listed him under the category where he played the most. i decided to use some emojis at the end of my evaluations to describe my feelings as well. and remember, the italicized parts are (portions of) what i wrote about the boys in the preseason blog, which i added here merely to compare.


Outfielders

--Brantley had such an impressive spring that there was no way the team couldn't agree to put him on the OD roster, right? he played probably the least out of all the regulars, including the ones who went off to the WBC and missed time in camp. in his eight games, he bat .385 (10-for-26) and hit two doubles and two home runs while driving in five. he appears to be healthy and he's swinging the bat without any pain, which has to be the main takeaway from spring--not what his final numbers were, even though they were pretty damn good. welcome back! (if you want full details of Michael's spring rehab, see my Brantley's Cactus League 2017 Rehab & Game Details blog.)

Michael Brantley had zero issues with his right shoulder and biceps this season. maybe it was due to the extra shoulder work he did on a daily basis to keep the shoulder strong, but it's clear that the biceps tenodesis (surgery) from August 2016 was a success. this year, Michael certainly had his fair share of poor at bats, what with not having played a full season since 2015. he was inarguably rusty at the plate and could not stop swinging at balls low and high outside the strike zone for much of 2017. other than that, his offensive numbers were turning out to be some of the best on the Tribe. he had a team high 14-game hitting streak between May 15-30 and bat .345 (19-for-55) during it. right around the time he was named to the 2017 AL All Star Team as an outfield reserve on July 2, it was evident that Terry Francona's 3-hole hitter had emerged as a real candidate for AL Comeback Player of the Year. quite possibly the biggest highlight of not only his season, but also his career, was when he collected his 1,000th Major League hit on July 19. unfortunately, Michael had a pestering right ankle sprain that he could not overcome. it originated on May 7 and put him on the disabled list twice--first on June 19 for a week after his time on the Paternity List was over, and second on August 9, which kept him out of 50 games. missing all that time effectively ruined the possibility for a comeback award. following more than one second opinion, it was discovered that Michael was suffering from a deltoid ligament sprain and ankle synovitis. additional time in a walking boot eventually allowed him to run pain-free in the field, a hurdle he battled for a month and a half. Michael returned on September 30 and got a few ABs in the final two regular season games. looking at the numbers, he ended up playing 90 games, bat .299 (101-for-338), and totaled 20 doubles, nine home runs, 52 RBI, 31 walks, 11 stolen bases, and 50 strikeouts for 2017. defensively, he only ever played in left field, but made some very remarkable catches and acquired a co-team high eight outfield assists. he even had one two-assist game, a career first, on June 10. for 90 games, Michael put up good stats. because the doctors said Michael could not harm his ankle any further, he was able to make the American League Division Series roster and was supposed to be used as a PH off the bench. in another turn of events, Michael got more ABs than expected after Edwin Encarnacion sprained his right ankle and had to miss a few postseason games. that allowed Michael to slot into the DH spot. still trying to get re-acclimated at the plate, Michael only obtained one hit in 11 at bats in the ALDS. a week after the Indians' postseason elimination, he underwent right ankle surgery to stabilize the ligaments in the joint. he'll need 4-5 months before he can resume full baseball activities, but, like he was able to do while on the disabled list during the season, i imagine he'll be working on his hitting whenever he feels up to it in the offseason. please refer to my Wrapping Up Brantley's 2017 Season + Postseason blog for more details about Brant's season, including links to my other, more specific season wrap up posts and highlight blogs that i wrote throughout the year.πŸ’πŸ˜€πŸ’ͺπŸ‘ΆπŸš‘πŸ₯πŸ€•πŸ˜ž

--Jackson proved to everyone that after his June 2016 surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee, he is healthy again. he got a late start to playing in Cactus League games, but when he did, he showed no signs of a setback. in total, he got 33 at bats in 13 games, hitting six doubles and one home run. he also had eight RBI. his one drawback is he's probably going to whiff a bunch, too. this spring he had 10 strikeouts and just three walks. furthermore, he recorded one outfield assist. he could potentially be like an equivalent for Davis because he's great in center field and has some speed, although i surely don't expect him to steal like Davis did last year. i'm happy A-Jax made our big league team, i feel that was the right choice, and i hope he does some good things for us this season.

i loved the Austin Jackson pick-up and boy did he prove to be a godsend. the 30-year old made the Opening Day roster with the intention of being a platoon player, starting mainly against left-handed pitchers and batting in the lower portion of the lineup. in the last month and a half though, he was pretty much a regular and found a home batting 2nd. while his knee was fine, he did deal with a few other injuries. on May 2, he went on the 10-Day DL with a hyperextended left big toe, and after he played some rehab games, was activated on May 26 (a day after Lonnie Chisenhall went on the concussion DL). Jackson returned to the 10-Day DL on June 27, when he suffered a mild left quad strain. he again needed a minor league rehab assignment before returning on July 25. altogether, Jackson played in 85 games with the Tribe, batting .318 with 19 doubles, three triples, seven homers, 35 RBI, 33 walks, and 64 strikeouts. he didn't take many risks on the basepaths, stealing only three bases and getting caught once. in the field, he started the year playing center, but also saw some time in right, and then played a lot of left once Brantley went out with his ankle issues. Jackson had four total outfield assists and was part of one double play, but did commit two errors. the high point of his season was the ridiculous, home run-robbing, over-the-wall catch he made against the Boston Red Sox in center field at Fenway on August 1. talk about a web gem; that was one of the biggest defensive plays of the year in all of baseball. in the postseason, he played in all five games, mostly as the left fielder, going 3-for-14 with six strikeouts. A-Jax was a great signing, but he might have been a one-and-done with us.πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ŒπŸ˜ŽπŸ™Œ

--Tyler Naquin had another superb spring in spite of some bad luck. he fouled a ball off his foot during one game, then later was sidelined for a few days with bilateral knee soreness. his ailments could have been the reason why he cooled off after a very hot start. of his final five games, he went hitless in four. but overall, he hit five doubles and one homer, drove in five, and bat .333 in 39 at bats. in the outfield, he also attained one assist. it's been suggested that Naquin could possibly see time in right field this year if needed, and he's also going to face more left-handed pitching. so that will be interesting.

Tyler Naquin opened with the Indians, but he did not stay long. he was optioned to the Columbus Clippers on April 13 when Chisenhall returned from his rehab assignment/DL stint. oddly enough, the reverse was true on July 14--Chiz went on the disabled list again and Naquin was recalled. however, that was short-lived as well and Naquin was back in Triple A on July 17, which is where he would stay until September 5. he was pretty much negligible this year, appearing in just 19 games and going 8-for-37 with two doubles, one RBI, and two walks vs. nine strikeouts. in the outfield, he played in both center and right. not only did he not make the postseason roster, but he was sent home before the Division Series even began. after his great spring and even going back to his successful rookie 2016 season, this year was a whole 'nother story.πŸ˜ŸπŸ‘Ž 

--early on in spring, Brandon Guyer had minor right hamstring soreness, which delayed his appearance in Cactus League games. he also had the flu for a short period of time. when he did play, he had a good camp--six RBI, one double, two home runs, four walks in 14 games. and of course, he got hit by three pitches, the most in spring. but you really can't complain about those stats from a platoon outfielder. although, Francona did publicize that he plans on playing Guyer more against right-handed pitchers this season because he thinks that will help him become an even better hitter against lefties. we'll see. 

Brandon Guyer didn't have the best season. in 70 games, he bat .236 with seven doubles, one triple, two home runs, 20 RBI, 15 walks, and 43 strikeouts. he also totaled eight hit by pitches, which was tied for the most on the team with, shocker, Yan Gomes! Guyer wasn't nearly as effective against left-handed pitching this year as he was last year. in the field, he played both corners and was sometimes used as a defensive replacement for Brantley in left. what really held him back was his wrist. he was placed on the 10-Day DL with a left wrist sprain on May 14 with a 4-6 week recovery timetable. he started a rehab assignment in the middle of June and came back to the majors on June 26. he missed the last half of September when his wrist flared up again and ended up having surgery on October 11 to repair the extensor tendon.πŸ˜•πŸ€•

--thankfully, we did not discover any discouraging news about Abraham Almonte this spring. (say no to drugs, kids lol) he had one of the better camps of all the regulars, yet he made the OD roster purely because Chiz is opening on the DL, which to me seems absurd. he can play all three OF spots; wouldn't you choose him for your squad independent of other players' health? he bat .352 in spring, hit four doubles and three home runs, drove in 12, walked six times, and even stole three bases. in addition, he had a 12-game hitting streak, which was the longest streak by an Indians player in the spring since Asdrubal Cabrera's 13-gamer in 2011. defensively, he acquired himself an outfield assist as well. i was abundantly pleased with what i saw from him in spring and i pray he's not the one who gets demoted when Chiz comes off the disabled list.

Abraham Almonte was another platoon OF and played all three positions. he was the main RF when the season opened until Chisenhall returned. then he saw more time in left when Brantley was out with his ankle sprain, but was also used as a late inning defensive replacement when needed. Almonte, too, had his own injury troubles. he went on the 10-Day DL on May 16 with what was called a high grade strain to the right biceps tendon. (that gave the Indians a total of THREE of their OD outfielders on the DL at once, btw.) it took him quite a while to recover from that because at one point during his minor league rehab, he had to stop due to having a hard time throwing. he was finally activated on July 5, but was a casualty of a roster move on July 26 and got sent down to Triple A Columbus. Almonte was recalled on August 5, and then suffered another setback when he went on the 10-Day DL with a left hamstring strain on August 18. he returned for good on September 1. he only played in 69 regular season games, batting .233 with eight doubles, three triples, three home runs, and 14 RBI. i feel like the DL trips kept him from getting on any real roll with his bat this year. Almonte did not make the ALDS roster.πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ€•

--Lonnie Chisenhall looked to be having a nice spring until he ran into a wall--literally. a week before camp was supposed to break, Chiz ended up with a mild sprain of the AC joint in his right shoulder after attempting to catch a ball and smacking into the right field wall at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona. he was shut down for three days and, following his re-evaluation, he was told he would be opening the year on the DL. prior to that, Chiz obtained five extra base hits, including two home runs, and six RBI. he also played a couple games in center field and did well. he's not expected to miss too much time; in fact, the team believes he will only be out for the first week (road trip) of the regular season.

Chisenhall came off the disabled list on April 13 following a small rehab assignment. he missed time again when he was placed on the 7-day concussion DL on May 25. after a few rehab games, Chiz returned on June 6 and remained healthy until July 11, when he went on the 10-Day DL with a right calf strain. he was unable to go out on a rehab assignment until almost the middle of August and came back up to the bigs when rosters expanded on September 1. his right calf tightened up on him in the contest on September 14 and he was held out of games until September 27. he had a rough go this year, to say the least. when healthy, Chiz was mainly a right fielder, though he did play all three outfield positions: CF early on in April and May until Bradley Zimmer got called up, and LF in September/October after he came off the DL, as Jay Bruce had overtaken RF by then. he acquired two assists and was involved in one double play as the right fielder. Chiz was also sometimes brought in as a late inning defensive replacement, including finishing seven games at 1st base. in only 82 games, Chiz bat .288 with 17 doubles, 12 home runs (one shy of his career high), 53 RBI, 25 walks, and 55 strikeouts. he primarily faced right-handed pitchers, as he is still regarded mostly as a platoon player. in the postseason, he appeared in four games, went 0-for-5, scored one run, got hit by two pitches (or one, technically...), and struck out four times. he played left field in two contests and came in to PH in the other two.πŸ€•πŸ˜΅πŸ’«πŸ˜ž 

--Daniel Robertson's spring went very well. he had 61 total ABs, the most out of everyone. he bat .328 in 25 games and hit two doubles, a team high two triples, and one home run. he also scored 13 runs and drove in nine. he even acquired one outfield assist and was part of a double play. unfortunately, he left the last game he was in early after seemingly injuring his hamstring, but not before going 3-for-4 with three RBI. irrespective of that, i'm unsure if he'll ever get to Cleveland this season.

Daniel Robertson did get to Cleveland when his contract was purchased on May 14. he was meant to be Guyer's replacement in right field after he went on the DL, but ended up playing all three spots in the outfield. most of the time he spent in left came while Brantley was out in June. he made some quick throws, proven by his three assists. he was also part of one double play and committed one error. in 32 total games, he bat .225 and had four doubles, one triple, one home run, seven RBI, seven walks, and three strikeouts. his homer was the first of the then 31-year old's four-year big league career. he didn't have the greatest numbers, but he was a gritty player who loved the game. he was optioned down to Columbus as soon as Brantley came off the disabled list on June 26 and didn't see Cleveland again. Robertson was designated for assignment on August 10 to make room for Bruce on the roster. he was released and re-signed to a minor league deal on August 16, then opted out of his contract on September 1 and is now a free agent.πŸ‘πŸ‘Š 

--Bradley Zimmer was another one of the stars of the spring, no question. except there was no room for Zimmer when it came time for the Indians to establish their 25-man roster. he got a lot of playing time with the Tribe, going 19-for-53 and batting .358 with five doubles, one triple, three homers, 14 RBI, team high four stolen bases, and team high 35 total bases. his lone blemish was one error in the outfield. he literally could not have done more, but could stand to play in Triple A for a while prior to joining the big leaguers. and i can see him being called up sometime this year.

Zimmer was shockingly called up over Naquin on May 16 when Almonte went on the DL. his contract was purchased by the Indians and he became the team's main center fielder, starting against right-handed pitchers and coming in off the bench late on days when southpaws pitched. Zimmer was a human highlight reel, exhibiting memorable defense in center with his astonishing jumps and dives to rob hitters of hits. his speed was incredible--it was amazing how fast he could go from one spot to another to get to a ball. he could score from 3rd on short sac flies as well. oh and he had some pop in his bat. conversely, by August, the league had made adjustments to Zimmer by pitching inside to him and he didn't make adjustments back, so he became ineffective. he went through an awful 0-for-37 slump (including a sac fly even though that's a plate appearance and not an at bat: source and explanation via Jordan Bastian) with 18 strikeouts to start August. it was the second longest hitless streak in Indians history. but that wouldn't be the only adversity he faced this year. on September 10, he left the game early after his left hand got stepped on as he slid into 1st base. the diagnosis was a fractured 4th metacarpal, and he had surgery for it on September 12 using a metal plate and nine screws to help heal the bone. Zimmer was given a recovery timetable of 6-8 weeks. needless to say, he missed out on the ALDS. before his injury, he played in 101 games, going 72-for-299 (.241 BA) with 15 doubles, three triples, eight home runs, 39 RBI, a team high 18 stolen bases, one caught stealing, 26 walks, and 99 strikeouts. he bat in every spot in the lineup at least once except for 5th, with his main BOPs being leadoff and 8th. in center, he acquired eight assists, tied with Brantley for the team lead among outfielders, and was part of one double play. if he can make the necessary changes at the plate for next season, then he's going to be one of the best all-around center fielders in baseball.πŸ’¨πŸ’ͺπŸ™Œ πŸ€•

Bruce was acquired by the Indians for Lake County's right-handed pitcher Ryder Ryan on August 9 and added to the 25-man roster on August 10. he has Brantley to thank for this deal really, because without that ankle injury, i'm not sure the front office goes after him, has room for him on the team, or is willing to pay him the $3.7 million that was left on his contract with the New York Mets in order to bring him here. anyway, i'm only going to recap Bruce's time with the Tribe and not his full season. he dealt with neck soreness in the first week of September and missed six games. he also left a game early on September 25 with a sore left heel/plantar fasciitis. otherwise, he was an every day player. in his 43 games as an Indian, the 30-year old mainly bat 5th in the lineup. he went 37-for-149, batting .248 with nine doubles, two triples, seven homers, 26 RBI, 18 walks, and 37 strikeouts. on the defensive side, he totaled two assists and two errors in right field. he also played a quick 2.0 innings at 1st base in one game. he played in all five games of the ALDS as the right fielder and boasted the highest average (.278) of the qualifying players. he also had a team high two home runs and was tied for the team lead with four RBI to go along with one double, two walks, and eight strikeouts. i feel like he did was he was brought here to do, but i don't think he'll be back with the Tribe in 2018.πŸ’ͺπŸ‘πŸ™‚ 

--Greg Allen did not do as well as Zimmer and new Major Leaguer Diaz, but for all intents and purposes, he had a successful camp with the Indians. he had 11 hits, three of which were doubles, two RBI, and three stolen bases. he played the most time in the outfield between he, Zimmer, and Diaz, and had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. he'll likely be the last of this trio to debut in Cleveland, but he's definitely someone to keep an eye on down in Akron.

Greg Allen was the last of the trio to make his debut, but i had no idea it would be during this season. the Indians selected his contract from Double A Akron on September 1. and he didn't just sit on the bench and observe; he got to play in parts of 25 games. Allen was mostly used as a pinch runner/defensive replacement, especially when Jason Kipnis was learning CF again in late September. he did play in four complete games though, and saw time in both center and left field. he played 109.0 innings combined of perfect defense. offensively, he went 8-for-35 (.229 average) with one double, one home run, six RBI, one stolen base, two walks, and six strikeouts. not a bad debut for the 24-year old! and get this, he even made the postseason roster! he didn't get any at bats, but he played one inning in center in Game 1 and pinch ran in Game 3. nobody saw that coming out of spring training!πŸ˜€πŸ‘πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘ŠπŸ‘


DH 

--newbie Encarnacion had a good camp, batting .311 (14-for-45) overall, but in the beginning he was mostly hitting what i called a lot of weak singles. according to Terry Pluto, he's not normally a great hitter in the spring, so i guess we shouldn't panic because he mainly hit his home runs in BP. that's right, the big bopper didn't hit any bombs in Cactus League play until the very last spring game on March 31. his other extra base hits were doubles (five) and he had a total of seven RBI. he also struck out 19 times, which is something we'll simply have to live with. defensively, he made one error at 1st base, but Francona disclosed EE will DH more than play 1st base in the regular season.

Edwin Encarnacion got off to a slow start, causing some fans to panic and deem this signing a fail. he really began to find his stride in June and then all was forgotten. he spent the year going back and forth between the Indians' cleanup hitter and 5-hole hitter. between August 6 and September 9, he reached base in 32 straight games. he was the club's main DH, but did appear in 23 games as the 1st baseman, including three straight when Carlos Santana went on the Paternity List, and had one error there. Encarnacion was reliable and didn't have any significant injuries in the regular season. he played 157 games total, going 143-for-554 (.258 BA) with 20 doubles, one triple, and two stolen bases. he also had team highs with his .377 OBP, 38 home runs, 107 RBI, 104 walks, and 133 strikeouts. in the postseason, Encarnacion left Game 2 of the ALDS with what initially looked like a very serious right ankle sprain. he remained on the bench until Game 5. when he played, he was the DH and went 0-for-7 with one walk, one hit by pitch, and three strikeouts. that was not what the Indians were hoping for and to me, it was reminiscent of how Mike Napoli had a big regular season last year, then couldn't produce in the playoffs.πŸ˜€πŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺ🐦πŸ₯‡πŸ€•πŸ˜•πŸ˜ž


Infielders 

--Santana spent a significant amount of spring away from the Tribe while playing for Team Dominican Republic in the WBC. before he left, he wasn't hitting much, but when he was in the tournament, he did well. and that continued when he rejoined the Indians. in 12 games, he finished 10-for-38 (.263) with four doubles, one home run, and four RBI. he's going to play a lot more 1st base this year than last season, so said Tito, and may also play in right field when the team plays in National League parks. i think he's ready and could rival his career high HR total from 2016.

Carlos Santana had a successful walk year. as usual, he was quite durable, missing just a little bit of time when he was placed on the Paternity List on July 5, then missing a few games later in July when he had a bruised toe, and then a couple more in August with some lower back tightness. in 154 games, he bat .259 (148-for-571) with 37 doubles, three triples, 23 home runs, 79 RBI, five stolen bases, one caught stealing, 88 walks, and 94 strikeouts. he also set career highs with 90 runs scored and 6 hit by pitches and he became the Indians' all time RBI leader (585) by a switch hitter on September 9. Santana played 140 games at 1st base and seven games as the DH. he led all 1st basemen in the American League with 96 assists and 130 double plays and was tied for 1st with 10 defensive runs saved. he also committed five errors as the 1st baseman. in addition, Santana played seven games in right field, five occurring in National League parks, and acquired one assist/was part of one double play. he started and completed all five ALDS games at 1st base and bat .211 (4-for-19) with one home run, four RBI, three walks, and four strikeouts. on October 26, it was revealed that Santana was named a finalist for the AL 1st baseman Gold Glove award. if he does not re-sign with the Tribe, his production and glove will be missed.πŸ‘ΆπŸ‘£πŸ’ͺπŸ˜€πŸ‘πŸ‘ 

--Jose Ramirez got the Indians' first hit of the spring this year and he played the most out of all the starters. he also got a five-year, $26 million contract extension. (one good season and they gave him a better deal than Brantley got before he even proved he could do it again? that's a dope agent Jose has lol) overall, he had a great spring, batting .304 with seven doubles (team high), one homer, and seven RBI, but his strikeouts were a little high (nine in 56 ABs) compared to what we saw from him last year. he began camp playing 3rd base, then had to move over and play 2nd once Kipnis went down with his shoulder pain. and the Indians have decided he will be Kip's replacement at 2nd, marking the third straight year that he doesn't open up the season at 3rd. but if you didn't know, 2nd base was actually his "natural" position, so his defense there shouldn't be a hindrance. case in point, he had no errors anywhere on the infield this spring. (and Tito already specified he's not planning on putting Ramirez in the outfield this year, fyi.) i'm still a bit skeptical that his bat will continue to be hot. i need to see it in order to believe that he's not a one-year wonder. 

Jose Ramirez had his best season yet in the majors. i didn't know if he could do it again, but he did. he started out at 2nd base while Jason Kipnis was still on the DL and went back to 3rd base when Kip was activated. but when Kip got hurt again after the All Star Break, Ramirez moved to 2nd base again. Terry Francona liked the Ramirez-Francisco Lindor duo at 2nd and short so much that he didn't want to change that when Kip returned in September. (scroll down to read what happened to Kipnis then, if you don't already know.) in the lineup, Ramirez bat 5th behind Edwin Encarnacion to "protect" him, as Tito liked to say, when the season opened. then Ramirez got moved down to 6th for a bit in May. when Michael Brantley was out in June, Ramirez took over the 3rd spot, but went back to 5th upon Brant's return. Ramirez wound up in the cleanup spot in August for a while until Brantley re-injured his ankle and went back on the DL, at which time Josey re-assumed the 3rd spot. batting higher up in the order helped him acquire more ribbies, imo. but Ramirez had some inconsistencies during the season as well. when he was hitting, he was really hot. then when he struggled, he slumped hard, particularly in the months of May and August. in fact, he had four straight hitless games in August--a rare occurrence for him. but he still ended up with excellent numbers overall because, like i said, when he did hit, he was superb and made up for the skids he had. on June 19 and September 5, Ramirez was named AL Player of the Week. the latter may have been influenced by his five consecutive extra base hits, including three doubles and two home runs, in the game on September 3. fans made a mad dash to the All Star polls in the final days to vote him in as the starting 3rd baseman in the All Star Game, the first All Star nod of his career. Ramirez remained healthy until a few pesky things arose in the final two months of the season. he missed two games with a right forearm injury in August and three games in September with a sore right wrist. he left the game on September 11 with a left forearm contusion (but returned the next day) and missed games on September 16 and 17 with a hamstring issue. overall, he played in 152 games. he set career highs with 186 hits (team high), 56 doubles (team high and also led all of MLB), six triples (team high), 29 home runs, 83 RBI, five sac flies, 107 runs (team high), 52 walks, five intentional walks, 69 strikeouts, 341 total bases (team high), 645 plate appearances, 585 at bats, .318 batting average (team high), .374 OBP, .583 SLG (team high), .957 OPS (team high). also, his career high 91 extra base hits led the Tribe, the American League, and were tied for the MLB lead. he totaled 17 stolen bases versus five caught stealing as well. defensively, he played 71 games at 2nd base with six errors, and 88 games at 3rd base with six errors. he received the Heart and Hustle Award and was the Indians' nominee for the Hank Aaron Award (but did not win). in the ALDS, Ramirez bat 3rd and played 2nd base in five complete games. his regular season success did not continue into the postseason, as he was just 2-for-20 with two walks and seven strikeouts. despite splitting time between two positions, he played enough innings at 3rd to be named a Gold Glove finalist in the AL on October 26. πŸ’ͺπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ˜€πŸ˜•πŸ˜ž 

--Francisco Lindor went all the way to the championship game of the WBC with Team Puerto Rico. he played A LOT for them and was one of their best offensive players. if you combine his stats from that and his spring with the Tribe, then nothing looks out of the ordinary, but truthfully, he did a lot better during the tournament. overall in Cactus League play, he bat .229 (8-for-35) with two doubles, one home run, and four RBI in 11 games. his sole error came very early on in camp. otherwise, he showed off his skills at short with a number of his routine outstanding defensive plays. he's as ready as he's ever gonna be for the regular season and i'm confident that he's going to have another spectacular year with both his bat and his glove. 

Lindor was one of the few Indians to not get bit by the injury bug. he came out of the gate looking good and strong. he was quickly racking up home runs, and then it seemed as though he had changed his swing to actively try to continue hitting homers. as a result, he was striking out more and between May and June, his batting average had plummeted from .306 to the .250s. still, he was named as an All Star for the second straight year after being voted in by his peers. in the second half, Lindor adjusted his swing and hit much better. he began the year batting 2nd, then got some time leading off before permanently taking over the leadoff spot on August 18. he played in a team high/career high 159 games and bat .273 (178-for-651) with 44 doubles (career high), four triples, 33 home runs (career high), 89 RBI (career high), 15 stolen bases, three caught stealing, 60 walks (career high), six intentional walks (career high), 93 strikeouts (career high), and 329 total bases (career high). furthermore, he led the AL and the Indians with 723 plate appearances and 651 at bats (also career highs). he had two 12-game hitting streaks, one in April and one in May, along with a 13-game streak in July, making him the only player in the big leagues this year with three such streaks. he had a franchise record 10 consecutive games with an extra base hit from September 7-16, too. on September 3, Lindor set the shortstop record for most home runs in one season when he hit his 26th homer of 2017. on September 20, he set the record for most home runs by a switch-hitting shortstop in MLB history with homer #31. every game he appeared in this season was at short except for one game when he was the DH. he committed 10 errors in 158 games at short. in the ALDS, he bat .111 (2-for-18) in five games with one home run, four RBI, four walks, and six strikeouts as the leadoff hitter. he was named as a Gold Glove finalist for shortstops in the AL on October 26 and could possibly win it for the second straight year.πŸ’ͺπŸ˜€πŸ’£πŸ‘πŸ˜”

--Yandy Diaz, welcome to The Show! he was certainly the star of spring. he put together a performance much like Naquin did during ST 2016, batting .458 (22-for-48) with four doubles, one triple, two homers, a team high 15 RBI, and team high eight walks. he also had a team high 22 hits in 20 games and went 2-for-3 in each of his last four games. the only negative from his camp was that he missed a little time with a groin injury. i was amazed that he made the OD roster because of his current questionable defense. besides that, it's unknown as to whether or not his hot bat will remain as such in the cold Cleveland April weather. the Tribe doesn't typically allow first timers to debut right out of camp because there's a high probability they will start slow and lose confidence. i admit, i am nervous that that may happen with Diaz. i know everyone was rallying for him to make the team, and therefore my reservations will be met with incredulousness. sorry.

Yandy Diaz was sent down to Columbus on April 21 when Kipnis came off the disabled list. he returned on May 8 after Brantley sprained his ankle (the first time) and needed to sit out for three games. Diaz was optioned to Triple A on May 16 and did not return until August 22 when a couple of guys went on the DL. like i assumed, Diaz had somewhat of a rough debut. his approach at the plate was good, for the most part, but he wasn't seeing the results. so when he went down to Columbus, he worked on some refinements and when he rejoined the club in August, his offense improved greatly. he played in 49 games with the Tribe, batting .263 overall (41-for-156) with eight doubles, one triple, 13 RBI, 21 walks, and 35 strikeouts. as for defense, he mainly played at 3rd base except for the three games in May that Brantley was out--then Diaz took over in left field (and made one error). he committed two errors as the 3rd baseman in 40 games. health-wise, Diaz left a game early in September with a left elbow contusion and jammed his right middle finger towards the end of the season as well. he was left off the postseason roster, to the dismay of many fans, though he may have still been battling that jammed finger at the time.πŸ’ͺπŸ˜ƒπŸ’₯πŸ€•

--Jason Kipnis is still a ways away from playing with the Indians. when he first got to Goodyear, the team mentioned that he was on a "special" throwing program to build strength in his shoulder. then when spring games began, it came out that he felt discomfort when he was throwing the ball and had a strained right rotator cuff. he received a cortisone shot and was shut down for five days before resuming throwing. on March 9, he made his Cactus League debut as the DH, but was shut down again on March 12 for two weeks because of the strain. then a week later it was announced that Kip would be out 4-5 weeks and starting the season on the disabled list because of inflammation. many fans are equating Kip to Brantley, which i don't understand because those are two, well actually three, entirely different issues. Kipnis seems to only have pain with throwing, as he did go 2-for-5 at the plate in his two spring games. hopefully the extra rest will take care of the problem and nothing lingers into the season.

Kipnis could not stay healthy this year, so he never really got into a groove. he went on his rehab assignment in April and was activated on April 22. he missed a couple games in June with neck stiffness. then the neck issue popped up again on July 5 before he went on the 10-Day DL with a right hamstring strain on July 9. he was activated on August 6 and played until he left the August 10 game early with a hamstring strain again. he sat out a few games before returning. he left another game early on August 22 because of his hamstring and finally went back on the 10-Day DL on August 23. is your head spinning yet? then when Kip came off the disabled list on September 17, he became the Tribe's center fielder because Tito didn't want to disrupt the Lindor-Ramirez combo at short and 2nd, and also because Bradley Zimmer had recently undergone surgery on his finger, so there was an opening in that spot. Kip came up as a CF in the minors so the position wasn't brand new to him, but he needed reps there for sure. he played parts of 11 games in center to end the year with one complete game, no assists, and no errors. he started out by mostly playing in short center field. there were instances when balls went over his head and some he played off the bounce that maybe a more experienced CF would have dove for and caught. at 2nd base, Kip played in 75 games and committed seven errors. offensively, he bat .232 (78-for-336) for the year with 25 doubles, 12 home runs, 35 RBI, 28 walks, six stolen bases, two caught stealing, and 71 strikeouts in 90 games total. when he returned from the DL in April, he bat in the 6th spot in the lineup before getting promoted to leadoff, and then started hitting 2nd when Brantley went down with his ankle sprains. upon Kip's final return from the DL, he alternated between 7th and 8th in the lineup in September/October. he played all five games in the ALDS, in center, and went 4-for-22 with just one triple, one RBI, and eight strikeouts while batting 2nd. and there were some occasions when players took advantage of him being in center and scored on him when he wasn't able to get to a ball quick enough or make a better throw home.πŸ€•πŸ’«πŸ˜žπŸ€· 

--Giovanny Urshela took part in the WBC with Team Columbia, but he didn't miss much time with the Indians because his team didn't advance very far. he had a decent camp offensively, finishing with two doubles, two homers (one being a grand slam), and seven RBI. still, the Tribe decided to give Diaz the temporary spot at 3rd base until Kip comes back and Ramirez returns to the hot corner. i was taken aback by that decision because we know Urshela is consistently solid with his defense, which cannot be said for Diaz (yet). once toted as a top prospect in the organization, Ursh has not played in the bigs since 2015. and now i'm beginning to wonder if there's even a place for him with the Indians anymore. is it possible that his time has already come and gone? might his name end up on the trading table someday soon?

Giovanny Urshela got to put his defense on display in Cleveland once again this year. he first came up on June 17 because the Indians had a doubleheader and he started the 2nd game. he was optioned to Columbus the following day. then after Kipnis went on the 10-Day DL with a right hamstring strain on July 9, Ursh returned to the bigs for good. he played the majority of his games at 3rd base, but Francona also wanted to move him around the diamond, so he saw time at short, 2nd, and even 1st. he made five errors in 67 games, one coming when he played 2nd base. he played a mix of complete games, games that he started but didn't finish, and games where he came in to finish them. he made some excellent plays as the 3rd baseman with barehand grabs and jump throws and really showed Tribe fans what they've been missing. his offense, on the other hand, still leaves much to be desired. he hit 35-for-156 (.224) with seven doubles, one home run, 15 RBI, eight walks, and 22 strikeouts this season. he also made the 25-man ALDS roster, but did not appear in any postseason games.πŸ‘‹πŸ‘πŸ‘€πŸ’ͺ


Utility 

--Michael Martinez is not a favorite among Indians fans, i know. but the guy is a utility player and Francona loves him. and he actually had a pretty productive spring, batting .345 (20-for-58) with five doubles, one triple, one home run, and nine RBI. he mostly played 2nd base, but appeared in three games in the OF and obtained one assist. Martinez generally does not perform even close to this level during the regular season, so it's hard to get hyped about him. he may not stay on the big league squad the whole year and could be sent down and called up repeatedly as needed.

okay, i'll say it: Michael Martinez is a phenomenal pitcher. he got to pitch 1.0 innings in a blowout and allowed one hit, but no runs. it was impressive. aside from that, Martinez was mainly used as late inning defensive replacement. he played 2nd base, shortstop, 3rd base, and center field this year with the Tribe. in 14 games as a hitter, he went 4-for-11 (.364) with one double, two walks, and five strikeouts. Martinez opened the season with the Indians, but was designated for assignment on May 14, then traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash on May 18. but he didn't stick with the Rays and, in a move that i think everyone saw coming, was signed to a minor league deal with the Tribe on June 25. too bad for him though he was not called back up to the majors, not even in September.πŸ’«πŸ‘‹

--Erik Gonzalez (infielder) had what should be a confidence-boosting camp, especially after his struggles on the Indians last year. he bat .308 with two doubles, one triple, two homers, and 11 RBI, but he did strike out 19 times versus drawing only one walk. in addition, he committed two errors in 29 chances. towards the end of spring training, he was hit in the hand and then sat out some games. he's turning into a utility type player so the Tribe will have more options of where they can put him, but what he will bring to the team offensively remains unclear. the reason Martinez made the team over him, aside from all of MM's big league experience and versatility, is that the Indians wanted Gonzo to play every day, which he wouldn't in Cleveland. maybe we'll see him get called up later in the summer.

on the day Martinez was DFA'd (May 14), Erik Gonzalez was recalled from Columbus and he wasn't optioned until August 6. he got called up for a day when Michael Brantley went on the DL for the second time with his ankle sprain on August 9, and then sent back down on the 10th when Jay Bruce was added to the team. he came back for good on August 23 after Jason Kipnis went out with his hamstring strain. Gonzalez is another super utility guy and was used at 2nd, short, 3rd, and even played one game in left field when Brantley was out in June. the two errors he made both came when he was the shortstop. he set career highs in everything, playing 60 games and batting .255 (28-for-110) with six doubles, four home runs, 11 RBI, one stolen base, two caught stealing, and 37 strikeouts. Gonzalez also appeared in two games in the ALDS as a defensive replacement at 3rd base. at the plate, he was 0-for-2.πŸ’₯πŸ’«


Catchers 

--Gomes had a tremendous spring and i think, after how his 2016 played out, he needed that. batting .370, he had six doubles, three homers, and seven RBI, and his nine extra base hits were the most out of all the guys in Major League camp. more importantly, his arm already appears to be in mid-season form, as he threw out (a catcher's high) four runners trying to steal, including two in one game. maybe now Gomes can put his past misfortunes behind him and be a valuable contributor in the lineup this year.

Yan Gomes got off to an awfully bad start offensively. his April numbers were atrocious and he knows that lol it really took him a while to get his bat going. at the end of the year, he'd batted .232 (79-for-341) with 15 doubles, 14 home runs, 56 RBI, and 99 strikeouts. Gomes also set new career highs with 31 walks and eight hit by pitches, the latter being tied for the team high with Brandon Guyer. he played in 105 total games and always bat in the lower third of the batting order. defensively, in the 856.0 innings he caught, he made nine errors. more importantly, he threw out 24 of 57 base stealers and led the American League in fewest stolen bases allowed (33) and stolen base percentage (.579). in the ALDS, Gomes took a backseat to Roberto Perez for the catching duties. he caught one complete game, the 13-inning Game 2. then he made two pinch hit appearances in Games 3 and 4. overall, he went 2-for-6 with one double, one RBI, two walks, and two strikeouts. on October 26, he was named as one of three Gold Glove finalists at the catcher's position in the American League and has a great shot to win his first GG.πŸ’ͺπŸ‘ŒπŸ‘Š 

--Roberto Perez missed most of spring because he was part of Team Puerto Rico in the WBC, though he did have a few good games before he left. Perez only appeared in two games with his country's team and i personally think it was kind of a waste for him to be there for over two weeks. he needed the most practice out of everyone since he's never been that great with the bat. be that as it may, he did end up hitting .304 (7-for-23) for the Tribe with two doubles, two RBI, five walks, and one stolen base in 10 games. his skills behind the plate seem sharp, and his arm looked great, too, as he threw out three baserunners. with any luck, we'll get a little more out of his bat this season than we have in the past. **edit: on April 2, the Indians signed Perez to a $9 million, four-year extension with club options for 2021 and 2022. congrats!

Perez caught 580.2 innings this year, but as it got to be later in the season, he turned into the main catcher. he worked really well with all the pitchers, called some great games, and only made two errors. offensively, the more he played, the better he got. he played in a career high 73 games and set career numbers in plate appearances (248), at bats (217), hits (45), doubles (12), home runs (eight), RBI (38), total bases (81), and strikeouts (71). he also attempted to steal his first base, but got caught. in the ALDS, Perez played in four of the five games, batting .300 (3-for-10) with one home run, two RBI, two walks, and three strikeouts.πŸ’ͺπŸ‘ŒπŸ‘Š

--catcher Francisco Mejia played with the Tribe for a little bit until he was optioned to Double A Akron on March 15 and he did quite well. he appeared in 11 games and bat .421 (8-for-19) with one double, two home runs (including one GRAND SLAM), and eight RBI. even with him mainly coming in later in games and not facing top tier Major League pitching, that's pretty extraordinary for a kid and i know it was a very valuable experience for him, too. he's one of our top prospects for a reason and i'm looking forward to his debut in Cleveland (which probably won't be until at least 2018).

so i got the timing wrong here, sue me lol Francisco Mejia got called up from the Akron RubberDucks on September 1 when rosters expanded. (on September 2, he was named Eastern League Rookie of the Year, which might have been the coolest thing to happen to him this year had he not just been promoted to the big leagues.) he caught 4.0 total innings in three contests, late in the games after either pinch running or pinch hitting. Mejia played in 11 games overall and was mostly used as a pinch hitter, though he did play one complete game as the designated hitter. keep in mind, the Indians were still in the middle of setting their AL record of 22 straight wins, trying to win their division, and looking to get home field advantage in the playoffs. so the fact that Mejia got to play a part in any of the September contests shows that the team really believes in the then-21 year old. i just wish he could have caught more. at the plate, Mejia bat .154 (2-for-13) with one RBI, one walk, and three strikeouts in his first taste of the bigs.πŸ‘€πŸ‘ŒπŸ˜€


Pitching

let me highlight the pitching as a whole on this club for a minute because even though some things fell apart in the postseason, Cleveland's pitching has become one of the best in baseball, and it's been that way for years.

between the starters and the bullpen, Tribe hurlers pitched 30 straight scoreless innings this season over five games from August 24-28, including three straight shutouts from August 25-27. it was the longest shutout streak in the majors this year and the longest on the Indians since a 31-inning shutout in 2008. (source: Joe Noga.)

in 2017, the pitching staff ranked first in Major League Baseball with a 3.30 ERA, 3.33 FIP (fielding independent pitching), 27.5% strikeout rate, and 4.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio. they also ranked first with 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings, 1,614 strikeouts, and 31.7 fWAR (wins above replacement), which were all single-season MLB records. (source: Jordan Bastian.)

they struck out 10 or more batters in a record 92 games. (source: Paul Hoynes.)

the starting rotation and bullpen had the lowest ERAs of 3.52 and 2.89, respectively, in the AL. (source: Hoynsie.)

in addition, from 2013-2017, the Indians have now led the American League in the wins (454), ERA (3.64), and strikeouts (7,248) categories. (source: Bastian.)

for the fourth time in club history, two pitchers--Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco--totaled 200 Ks in the same season. the last time this occurred was in 2015, when the same duo first did it.

on September 28, Kluber and Carrasco became the 6th pair of teammates with 18+ wins and 220+ Ks in the same season in MLB. their 18 wins were also tied for the most in MLB (along with Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers). (source: Bastian.)

on September 29, Kluber, Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer became the first trio in MLB history with 17+ wins and 190+ Ks.


Starting Pitchers

no questions here this year. our starting five was set long before anyone even reported to spring training. Corey Kluber is the ace, Carlos Carrasco is #2, and Danny Salazar is #3. as for the last two, Terry Francona has gotten on board with my preferred order of Josh Tomlin #4 and Trevor Bauer #5. (actually, he insisted he ordered them that way due to early season pitching matchups, but still, i like it. i like it a lot.) like last season, the Indians have a couple off days early on in April, but Tito vowed that everyone would be pitching in order and no one would be skipped, at least not in the first week. it is possible that one of the starters ends up as a temporary option in the bullpen somewhere down the road though.

i know the ERAs of all our starters aren't exactly desirable, but i can say with confidence that they all have great stuff and there were definite flashes of how dominating they can be when everything comes together. again, pitching can be more arduous in Arizona, so the final numbers aren't necessarily red flags. if everyone can maintain their health, then this is one of the most intimidating starting 5s in the league, hands down.

--Kluber was brought along slowly this spring because he pitched the most out of any starter in the 2016 playoffs. he didn't pitch in a Cactus League game until March 6 and was rusty. as spring went on, however, he began to hone in on his pitches and the strikeouts kept piling up. in five games and 23.1 innings, he struck out 28. on the downside, he gave up 18 runs and four homers, three of which came in his final spring start. he also walked seven and acquired an earned run average of 6.17. but he will be the Tribe's Opening Day starter and he's ready. he's in good shape and after a very heavy workload last year, his arm feels good. if past seasons are any indication, then we might see him struggle in a few outings early on, but it won't last. the Klubot will be activated eventually and then it's lights out for the hitters he faces.

Kluber is going to win his second AL Cy Young Award in a few weeks, but it won't be as satisfying after how his performance in the American League Division Series went. let me first start with the regular season. he threw five complete games, tied for the most in MLB, and had three shutouts, tied for the most in MLB. both were career highs as well. he threw his first SHO on April 21. he left the game on May 2 with lower back discomfort and was placed on the 10-Day DL on May 3 with a lower back strain/tightness. he pitched one rehab game in Akron at the end of May and was activated on June 1. he threw SHO #2 on June 19. Klubes was picked by the Commissioner's Office to be on the AL All Star Team--the second All Star nod of his career. after the break, he had some neck stiffness on July 18 and missed one start because of it. then he threw two consecutive complete games on August 3 and August 8, when he struck out 11 batters in both. between June 1 and August 13, Kluber had a 14-game streak with 8+ Ks. that was tied for the fourth longest in baseball history and was the third longest single-season streak in MLB history. in that time frame, he also broke a franchise record with five consecutive games with at least 10 strikeouts from June 14 - July 4. then he pitched another five consecutive games with at least 11 strikeouts from July 15 - August 8. on August 18, he left the game with a right ankle sprain that gave everybody a good scare, but he was ready for his next start. he threw his third shutout of the season on September 12. after the September 17 game, he totaled 250+ Ks for the second time in his career and was the third pitcher in Indians history to do so. Kluber threw 26 consecutive scoreless innings between September 7 and 24 (over four starts), including back-to-back scoreless outings on September 12 and 17. now for some awards. Kluber was named AL Pitcher of the Week twice this season, on June 26 and September 18. he was also named AL Pitcher of the Month for June, August, and September. in addition, he won the MLB ERA title for 2017 with his 2.25 earned run average. overall, he pitched 203.2 innings in 29 games, all starts, and amassed an 18-4 record, with the 18 wins tying for the most in Major League Baseball this year. his 265 strikeouts were the second most in the American League. he allowed 141 hits, 21 home runs, a career low 56 runs, 36 walks, and 15 stolen bases. furthermore, he hit five batters, threw four wild pitches, committed one error, and was part of one double play. offensively, Kluber got to bat in one game at the beginning of the year against the Arizona Diamondbacks and went 1-for-2 with a single. in the ALDS, Kluber started Game 2 versus the New York Yankees because Terry Francona wanted Kluber on full rest to pitch in a Game 5 if there was one. the ace didn't make it out of the 3rd inning in Game 2 and couldn't make it out of the 4th in Game 5. altogether, he pitched 6.1 innings, gave up 10 hits, four home runs, and nine runs while walking three and striking out 10. he got one no decision and took the loss in the decisive Game 5. his 12.79 ERA was shocking, to put it nicely. Kluber just didn't look right in either game he pitched and after the Indians' elimination from the series, it came out that he was dealing with a mechanical flaw in that his arm slot was lower, which he began having trouble with in his last start of the regular season. some speculated that a lower arm slot can be the result of an injury, but everyone insisted that Kluber's back was fine. we may never know the truth. but now he's got plenty of time to either fix that issue or heal before 2018 gets started.πŸ€–πŸ₯‡πŸ€•πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ˜€πŸ˜•πŸ˜žπŸ’© 

--Carrasco had some right elbow soreness and inflammation that kind of came out of nowhere. one day, he couldn't throw his breaking ball without pain and gave up three home runs, including one grand slam, and eight runs in just 1.2 innings. after a little downtime and a short paternity leave, he returned and threw all his pitches again with no complaints. once he completed his final start, he'd appeared in six total games, pitching 15.0 innings, and had a 10.80 ERA with a record of 2 wins and 2 losses. overall, he gave up seven homers and walked four, but also struck out 13 batters. he didn't accumulate the number of innings in spring that the team wanted, he only pitched about half as much, and will probably be limited to pitching 4 or 5 innings in his first couple starts. the jury's still out on if his elbow truly is okay, but i have no reason to believe it's not until we hear otherwise.

Carrasco was one of the originators of the mini-ball team, which was pretty brilliant, but more importantly, he was magnificent on the mound. Carrasco had no injury issues this year and his reliability turned out to be huge because several other members of the rotation went down at different times, including the ace. in 32 games, all starts, he pitched a career high 200.0 innings and totaled a 3.29 ERA with an 18-6 record. the 18 wins were also tied for most in the majors and a career high for Carrasco, who won his last five starts in September and pitched one complete game as well. in his final start of the season on September 28 versus the Minnesota Twins, he struck out a season high 14 batters in 8.1 innings. overall, he gave up 173 hits (career high), 21 home runs, and 73 runs, and allowed five stolen bases, 46 walks, and 10 hit by pitches (the latter two being career highs) to a career high 798 batters faced. also, he threw a career high 10 wild pitches, but struck out a career high 226 batters. he didn't commit any errors and was part of one double play. in 2017, he also got to bat in two games against National League teams, going 0-for-4 with one run, one walk, and one strikeout. on September 5, he was nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award. in the ALDS, he pitched 5.2 innings in Game 3 against the Yankees. he gave up three hits but no runs, allowed three walks and one hit by pitch, and tallied seven strikeouts. he did his job. Indians hitters though, they didn't do theirs. so the Tribe lost the game, 1-0, but Carrasco got a no decision. the good news is, the team clearly has a second ace who's still under control for three more years.πŸ‘πŸ‘ŠπŸ’ͺπŸ˜€πŸ‚‘

--Salazar had one bad start due to control issues and that skewered some of his overall spring stats. he only allowed one home run until his last start, in which he gave up two homers to the same player. he finished with a 4.85 ERA, went 2-1, and walked a team high 14, but also struck out a team high 37 batters! furthermore, he pitched a team high 26.0 innings in seven appearances. this was the best spring i've seen from him. he had his fastball working and when that's good, his offspeed stuff (his changeup) is also good. if he can stay healthy, he's going to have a hell of a year, i know it.

Danny Salazar is beginning to frustrate people because he just can't remain consistent or stay healthy and there are continued questions about his arm. let's start with how he was giving up runs on a regular basis in the first two months of the season and got sent to the bullpen on June 1. on June 6, he landed on the 10-Day DL with right shoulder soreness, which turned out to be inflammation. he was able to throw again 10 days later and began a minor league rehab assignment shortly thereafter. he pitched for Mahoning Valley, Akron, and Columbus before he returned on July 22. he got six starts and looked so much better on the mound. he even struck out a season high 12 batters in 7.0 innings on August 5 versus the Yankees. another setback occurred on August 22 when he was placed on the 10-Day DL with right elbow inflammation. he didn't miss too much time though, coming back on September 5. not long after that, he was sent to the bullpen for a little bit while the Indians tried to determine if he would be better used as a reliever or starter, but did start two more games prior to the season's end. in 2017, Salazar compiled a 5-6 record with a 4.28 ERA in 23 games (19 started) and 103.0 innings. he also totaled 94 hits allowed, 14 home runs, 51 runs, 44 walks versus 145 strikeouts, and one error. for the amount of innings he pitched, that's an outstanding amount of Ks. he made the 25-man postseason roster as a reliever. he pitched 1.2 innings in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Yankees and gave up one run, allowed two walks, and punched out two hitters. look for him to be in the starting rotation next year, and hopefully he'll have figured out how to pitch well right from the get-go.πŸ™πŸ€•πŸ’ͺπŸ™‚πŸ‘

--Tomlin, like Kluber, was given a little more time to get himself ready for spring games because of his number of playoff appearances as well. the first spring game he started was on March 9 and he pitched a skilled 3.2 innings. it looked like he hadn't missed a beat since his last outing in 2016 and had picked up right where he left off. he had a few rough starts following his debut though, particularly his final one, when he gave up four home runs in 7.0 total innings. maybe it was due to him being stretched out more, i don't know. Francona didn't seem bothered by it. speaking of, Tomlin did not pitch for the Tribe in the last week of spring. the Indians opted not to have him pitch at Chase Field against the Arizona Diamondbacks because he's scheduled to pitch against them in his first regular season start. therefore, he made four total starts in spring, the least of everyone. he finished with a 5.50 ERA, allowing 13 runs and seven home runs. conversely, in typical Tomlin fashion, he did not walk anybody. i reckon he's gonna be fine once he's out of the desert.

Josh Tomlin was used strictly as a starter in the regular season. his April was bad, but he improved a lot as the year went on. that can be directly attributed to the advice of former Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, who told Tomlin to trust in his curveball more. sadly, Tomlin left the July 30 game early and wound up missing the whole month of August after being placed on the 10-Day DL on July 31 with a left hamstring strain. he was expected to miss six weeks. he pitched a rehab game for Mahoning Valley on August 24 and was activated on September 1. he had no further problems from then on. Tomlin pitched in 26 games and got his 10th win in his last start on October 1. overall, he went 10-9 with a 4.98 ERA. he allowed 166 hits, 23 home runs, 80 runs, and one stolen base in 141.0 innings, and he committed one error. he also walked 14 batters, struck out 109, and pitched one complete game. Tomlin got to bat in three Interleague games as well, going 1-for-7 with three strikeouts. in the ALDS, Tomlin was supposed to be the Game 4 starter. then Francona opted to use him out of the bullpen in Game 2 (over Salazar) to finish the extra innings contest versus the Yankees (which he got the win for), and so that ended that idea. Tomlin also pitched out of the bullpen in Game 4. in total, he pitched 3.0 innings of scoreless baseball, with no hits and four strikeouts. i strongly believe he would have been better utilized as a starter and potentially helped us advance to the American League Championship Series.πŸ€ πŸ˜€πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘πŸ‘ 

--Bauer was classic Bauer this spring. what i mean by that is, after a very short break from baseball, he spent the majority of his offseason preparing for 2017. that included adding another pitch to his repertoire, known as a split-finger fastball. did he really need another pitch though? nonetheless, he had a good spring, finishing with the lowest ERA of all the starters (4.74) and a 3-0 record. in six starts, he pitched 24.2 innings, the second most of everyone in the rotation, and acquired 18 strikeouts. he also gave up five home runs and allowed six walks. just like Tomlin, he did not pitch in an Indians game in the final week of spring, but he and Tomlin both pitched in a minor league game on March 31 to get their last bit of work in before the regular season.

Bauer was the co-creator of the mini-ball squad along with Carrasco. while he didn't pitch quite as well as Cookie and had some major stinkers, he was another starter who at least managed to stay healthy all year. though he'd disagree, his best game of 2017 was probably when he struck out a season high 14 batters in 7.0 innings on May 30 versus the Oakland Athletics. he compiled a 17-9 win-loss record, the wins being a career high, and he was the first Tribe starter to acquire 16 wins (on September 10) on the season. Bauer pitched 176.1 innings in 32 games, 31 of which were starts (another career high). he finished with a 4.19 ERA and career highs in strikeouts (196), hits allowed (181), and home runs (25). he gave up 84 runs, 60 walks, and four stolen bases, too. he also threw three wild pitches, hit five batters, and was charged with one balk. defensively, he committed one error and was part of three double plays. Bauer got to hit in two games this year when the Tribe played in National League parks and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. in the postseason, he started two games, including Game 1 of the ALDS versus the Yankees as was originally planned. and for the second straight year, the Indians' playoffs opened with Amon Amarth's metal song, "The Pursuit Of Vikings." Bauer pitched 6.2 innings, giving up two hits, no runs, and one walk while striking out eight. obviously, he got the win and it was an excellently pitched game. then after the Tribe lost Game 3, he volunteered to pitch Game 4 on short rest. and Francona agreed to it. Bauer only made it 1.2 innings, allowing four hits, four runs, two walks, and one stolen base while striking out three. those four runs were all unearned thanks to some defensive errors, so Bauer's total ALDS ERA remained 0.00, but he took the loss for that game. still, i don't think it was a good idea to use him on short rest and wish Tito had gone with one of the other starters that he had stored in the bullpen.πŸ‘πŸ˜€πŸ’ͺ🀘😬😞

--Mike Clevinger couldn't locate his fastball in his first start with the Indians, and he may have been partially distracted in his final start that came shortly before his wife gave birth to his second daughter. overall, he didn't have the flashiest spring, but had a 2-1 record. he made five appearances and finished with an 11.12 ERA in 5.1 innings. he also allowed two home runs and walked eight, but i'm not worried about him. while in camp, he worked on minimizing the tap of his lead foot before throwing his pitches. Clevinger will likely be the first guy called up if something happens to anyone in our current starting 5 thanks to the experience he gained in the bigs last season.

Mike Clevinger was the first Triple A starter to arrive in Cleveland this season and he got his first opportunity with the Tribe on May 7, shortly after Kluber went on the DL with a lower back strain and tightness. after six starts and one bullpen appearance, he was optioned on June 7. he returned as the 26th man on June 17 to start Game 2 of a doubleheader. he was sent down to Columbus following the game, but got called up again on June 22. after seven starts, the Indians moved him to the bullpen on August 4. he was back as a starter on August 12, when he struck out nine batters in 7.0 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, then got sent to the pen for Game 2 of a DH on August 17. Clev started six more games--and struck out nine batters again in the contest versus the Kansas City Royals on August 26 in 6.0 innings--before being moved to the bullpen permanently on September 23 in preparation for what his role was going to be in the playoffs. altogether, in his second year with the Indians, he pitched in 27 games, with 21 starts. the longest he pitched this year was 7.0 innings in two starts. for the season, he went 12-6 with a 3.11 ERA. every stat was basically a career high for him because he didn't pitch this much last year. he allowed 92 hits, 46 runs, 13 homers, 60 walks, and four stolen bases in 121.2 innings and induced 137 strikeouts. he was also charged with two errors. Clev even got to hit in two National League parks this year. he went 0-for-3 with one strikeout, but also had one sac bunt. the Indians lost both of those games, btw. he made the ALDS roster not as a starter, but a long-relief (bullpen) pitcher. he pitched in two games for a total of 1.1 innings and gave up two hits, one home run, three runs, and four walks while striking out three batters. he had an overall 13.50 ERA. in the first game Clevinger came out of the pen, Game 2, the Indians were down three and then he gave up a 2-run homer to put them down by five. luckily, they managed to come back and win that game. in Game 4 it was the same thing--Clev gave up a run to take the Tribe from trailing by four to trailing by five. honestly, i don't like him coming out of the bullpen and i don't know why Francona continues to think that he's a good option for that.πŸ‘πŸ˜€πŸ€” 

--Ryan Merritt will be known around Cleveland as the hero of the 2016 American League Championship Series for a while. the southpaw started the Tribe's first Cactus League game this year and had some difficulty. he appeared in four games before being optioned to Columbus, performing best in his last two. all-in-all, he gave up eight runs, one homer, and two walks while striking out seven in 8.1 innings. i think he'll provide good depth for us if needed at some point this year.

Ryan Merritt was the Tribe's main man when they had a doubleheader. he got called up on June 17, August 17, and August 30 to pitch in one game of a DH. after his start on June 17, he was immediately sent back to Columbus. on July 1, he was added to the roster as the 26th man for a DH, but he was not used and then sent to Columbus right away again. he was recalled on July 17 and optioned on July 22, getting to pitch out of the bullpen for 1.0 inning in one game in between that time period. Merritt came back as the 26th man on August 17 and sent down to Triple A after he pitched Game 2 of a DH. he returned to Cleveland on August 24 when Andrew Miller was shut down for a week with his knee problems, but got sent back to Columbus on August 26 when the Indians decided to bring up Craig Breslow. Merritt was called up for the final time on August 30 to pitch in Game 2 of a doubleheader and then remained with the squad for the rest of the season, but did not pitch anymore. he appeared in five games total in 2017, starting four of those. his first start with the Indians this year (June 17) was his worst, and that's saying something because he only surrendered three runs. overall, he had a 2-0 record with a 1.74 ERA while giving up 26 hits, six runs, no homers, and four walks versus seven strikeouts in 20.2 innings. Merritt was once again an effective pitcher and it's a shame he was not used more (or in the postseason).πŸš—πŸ˜€πŸ‘πŸ‘ 


What About...

--Adam Plutko had an excellent spring in four outings with the Tribe. he amassed 10 strikeouts while only giving up one run in 8.0 innings pitched, and was also credited with two saves. i don't know if he'll see time in Cleveland as a starter this season, but he may join them in the bullpen down the road like last year.

Adam Plutko, though he is a starter, was brought up to Cleveland for bullpen backup a few times this year. he was first recalled on June 16 when Michael Brantley went on the Paternity List, then optioned to Columbus on June 23 when Cody Allen came off the Paternity List. he was called back up on August 2 when Miller went on the DL with right knee patella tendinitis, but sent back down on August 5. Plutko never pitched either time he was with the Tribe. the Indians brought him up again when rosters expanded on September 1. however, the Indians knew he wouldn't be getting any pitching opportunities, so they optioned him to the Lynchburg Hillcats on September 4 to pitch out of their bullpen. on October 9, he underwent surgery to repair a tear in the labrum of his right hip. he's scheduled to return to full baseball activity in 4-6 months. if that torn labrum is anything like Brantley's, then he's assuredly going to need to go slow in his rehab and will likely be starting the 2018 season with the Clippers a little late.πŸ˜πŸ€•

--Shawn Morimando also made four appearances with the Indians in spring, including one start on a split squad day. his final numbers were nothing to write home about, although he didn't allow any home runs. he gave up six runs on 12 hits, walked two, and struck out 11 in 8.2 innings. he needs more time in Triple A to work on his stuff before he's ready to be a fixture in the big leagues. but he should be a promising future option.

Shawn Morimando didn't get called up to Cleveland until September 1, the day rosters expanded. clearly at that point, he was not going to pitch as a starter and instead became a reinforcement in the bullpen. problem was, he wasn't being used out of the bullpen either, so on September 23, the Indians simply sent him home with full pay and service time.😐🀷


Bullpen

in 2017, the Indians bullpen registered a 2.89 ERA, which was tops in the majors. (source: Jordan Bastian.) even so, the relievers were directly responsible for 24 of the team's 60 total regular season losses. i always consider a loss to be the bullpen's fault if 1.) the Indians are in the lead and then a reliever blows the lead, and 2.) the game is tied when a reliever comes in and then he cannot hold the tie. this year, relievers blew the lead five times and could not keep the game tied 19 times (and the bats couldn't rally a comeback).

the 24 losses this year rank high when looking at previous seasons. here are the comparisons back to 2013:
2016 - 21 of the 67 total losses
2015 - 16 of the 80 total losses
2014 - 23 of the 77 total losses
2013 - 15 of the 70 total losses

in five American League Division Series games versus the New York Yankees, the bullpen was only accountable for one of the three losses. it occurred in Game 3, when Andrew Miller gave up a solo home run to break a scoreless tie, and the Tribe ended up losing, 1-0. 

coming into camp, our bullpen was almost completely filled. spots were already occupied by Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw, Zach McAllister, Dan Otero, and Boone Logan. and once we got to the end of spring training, it was revealed that Shawn Armstrong would also be making the roster and pitching in relief for us, at least for the start of the season anyway.

--due to their workload in the playoffs, Allen and Shaw were brought on a little more slowly. neither appeared in a game until March 5. Allen pitched a total of 8.2 innings in nine games, gave up four runs on six hits, and struck out eight. he had one categorically bad outing, when he gave up three runs and was charged with a blown save. other than that, our closer looks ready to go. 

Cody Allen was ready to go and got off to a great start this year, unlike his seasons past. he was named AL Reliever of the Month for April after striking out 20 hitters in 10.0 innings and registering a 0.90 ERA and six saves in 10 games. he racked up 13 straight saves in his first 19 appearances between April 3 and May 23 before blowing a save in his 20th opportunity. he earned a save in six consecutive outings from April 26 - May 7 as well. Allen went on the Paternity List on June 22, but returned rather quickly on June 23. he made history on August 26 by becoming the franchise leader in strikeouts by a reliever (461 at the time, 484 at season's end), passing Eric Plunk. he passed Plunk again on September 2 when he set a record with his 374th relief appearance; he currently has 386. between September 2-13, Allen appeared in five straight games and earned five straight saves. in all of 2017, he earned 30 saves in 69 games. fact: he's acquired at least 30 saves in each of his last three years and has played in at least 67 games in each of his last five seasons. this year, he pitched 67.1 innings, which is slightly below his average of the past five years. he amassed a 3-7 record, with the seven losses being a career high, and a 2.94 ERA. he also allowed 57 hits, a career high nine home runs, 24 runs, 21 walks, and six stolen bases. furthermore, he totaled 92 strikeouts, two hit by pitches, nine wild pitches, four holds, and four blown saves this year. it was another solid performance from our closer. Allen pitched in every game of the ALDS except Game 3. in his four games, he had a 1.69 ERA with five hits, two runs, three walks, and eight strikeouts in 5.1 innings. he earned one save as well, occurring in Game 1. both of the runs he gave up came in Game 5; he'd had a perfect 0.00 ERA prior.πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ŠπŸ₯‡πŸ˜€πŸ‘ΆπŸ“‘

--Shaw of course stayed true to form and had his annual underwhelming spring. he was still working on things right up through his last appearance in the final game, which was one of his worst. overall, he allowed 19 hits, 16 runs, but only two homers in nine games and 7.2 innings. he finished with a paltry 17.61 ERA. Francona did not seem concerned, assuring the media that the ball was coming out of his hand good, he just wasn't locating. but is that really all it is? every year we wonder, is this going to be the year all those innings from previous seasons catch up to him? but then he goes out there and, aside from a few stinkers, is one of the more reliable pitchers in the 'pen, especially as he racks up innings on his stats sheet. so how can i expect anything else from him right now?

Bryan Shaw's name has to be synonymous with durability by now. all the guy does is pitch. he might be the most talked about Indian on social media because a lot of fans get upset when he gives up runs. but i'm going to prove that he is actually one of our best relievers. or was, if the free agent doesn't re-sign with Cleveland. early on, Shaw pitched in nine consecutive contests without giving up a run in 11.1 innings between April 27 and May 19. he had four holds in that time as well. on September 13, he appeared in his 70th game for the fifth straight year (which spans his whole career with the Tribe). on September 20, he recorded the first two-inning save of his career. at the end of the regular season, Shaw had made 79 appearances, which was tied for the most in MLB along with Kansas City Royal Peter Moylan. this also marked the second time in the last four years that Shaw led MLB in appearances. (source: Paul Hoynes.) in addition, Shaw has led the AL in appearances three times in the last four years now. he's also pitched in at least 74 games in his last four seasons. getting back to 2017, Shaw went 4-6 with a 3.52 ERA. he set career highs with his 76.2 innings, three saves, and 26 holds, as well as the 71 hits and 36 runs he allowed. additionally, he tied his career high with 73 strikeouts. the rest of his numbers include five home runs given up, 22 walks issued, three wild pitches thrown, three stolen bases allowed, two errors committed, one double play, and three blown saves. (do the math here people--three blown saves in 79 outings is extremely good.) Shaw pitched in three games in the postseason. he totaled 6.0 innings: 2.2 in Game 2, 1.1 in Game 4, and 2.0 in Game 5. after facing 20 batters, he allowed four hits, one home run, and one run while striking out five and compiling a 1.50 ERA. this guy doesn't get hurt, doesn't get tired, and doesn't pitch nearly as bad as some continually claim.πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ŠπŸ’ͺπŸ˜€ 

--Miller also should have taken things easy at the start of spring, but he had to get ready for the World Baseball Classic. his first outing in the WBC was not good--he gave up TWO home runs and the internet practically blew up. yet in his first game back with the Tribe, he looked like his usual self. overall, he pitched 7.0 innings in seven games and had a 5.14 ERA, giving up two homers and striking out eight hitters. i'm not worried and i anticipate he will set a strikeout record this year.

Miller confirmed he was human after all this year and maybe i should have been a little bit worried at the end of spring. Miller went 15 straight appearances at the start of the season without surrendering a run, from April 3 - May 15, while striking out 25 batters, covering 18.1 innings! it was the longest streak by an Indians pitcher to start a season since 1990, when Doug Jones had 20 scoreless innings. (source: Joe Noga.) if you add the last 12 straight games that Miller pitched scoreless baseball in from 2016, then his streak spanned 27 outings over 31.2 innings with 47 strikeouts from September 8, 2016 - May 15, 2017. wow. it was a no-brainer that he got his second career All Star nod, but what happened after the break was certainly unanticipated. on August 2, Miller was placed on the 10-Day DL with right knee patella tendinitis. two weeks later, he pitched in a minor league game before being activated on August 18. in his second appearance back on August 21, he walked the first batter he faced, then had to leave the game because he re-aggravated his knee. on August 22, he was placed on the disabled list again with patella tendinitis. since his injury was described as more of a basketball injury, the team contacted the doctors from the Cleveland Cavaliers in order to establish a better recovery plan for him. on August 24, Miller was shut down for 5-7 days with patellofemoral syndrome with associated patella tendinitis. at some point in September during this DL stint, his wife gave birth to a baby girl. he finally returned on September 14 and pitched in nine games with no issues. actually, in his final 11 outings of the season, he pitched 8.2 scoreless innings with 17 strikeouts. outside of his knee injury, Miller performed like everyone expected. for the regular season, he had a 1.44 ERA in 57 games. in 62.2 innings, he gave up 31 hits, three home runs, and 11 runs while walking 21 and striking out 95. he also hit five batters, allowed one stolen base, and threw one wild pitch. Miller went 4-3 overall with 27 holds, two saves, and two blown saves. at the plate, he got one at bat in an Interleague game, but struck out. in the ALDS, he pitched 5.0 innings in four of the five games and acquired an 0-1 record. he took the loss in Game 3 when he gave up a home run that decided the game. altogether for the postseason, he allowed four hits, one home run, and one run. in addition, he compiled a 1.80 ERA with two walks compared to eight strikeouts.πŸ‘πŸ’ͺπŸ˜€πŸ€•πŸ‘ΆπŸ‘πŸ’ͺπŸ˜€πŸ™πŸ’© 

--McAllister was the only reliever to get stretched out for the purpose of possibly making a spot start during the regular season. he started one spring game and, in what was probably his poorest appearance, he allowed five hits and two home runs in 2.0 innings. in spite of that, i believe he's primed and ready to be another staple of the bullpen. he pitched 11.2 innings in nine total games, striking out 12 batters and walking just one. he surrendered three homers overall and earned one save. in general, he pitches very well unless he's hurt, so remember that if McAllister is ever largely inefficient on the mound for several consecutive games this year.

Zach McAllister stayed healthy the whole season. he pitched in 50 games, all out of the bullpen, and had a 2.61 ERA, three holds, and 2-2 record. in 62.0 innings, he allowed 53 hits, eight home runs, 18 runs, 21 walks, and three stolen bases. he also struck out 66 batters, hit one, and threw three wild pitches. McAllister took part in two double plays from the mound as well. there were several games in which he pitched 2.0 innings and he even got a full 3.0 innings in the game on July 31. in his final seven appearances in September/October, he did not give up any runs. for the season, he did give up three runs in two separate games, but other than that, McAllister was a reliable multi-innings reliever. he was not named to the postseason 25-man roster because Terry Francona elected to stick a couple starters in the bullpen, so there wasn't enough room for McAllister.πŸ˜€πŸ‘ŒπŸ˜ž

--Otero had the best spring out of everyone. he started off very strong and didn't give up a run until his 9th appearance on March 26. prior to that, he had 8.2 clean innings of work. he finished right behind McAllister for most innings pitched with 11.1. in 11 games, he gave up two walks, no homers, and just the one run. he also struck out five and had a 0.79 ERA. fantastic.

Dan Otero was not as effective as he was last year, but still did well overall. he had no health issues and was always available when Francona called upon him. Otero had one really bad outing on June 3, when he gave up five runs in 0.1 innings, but only one run was earned. he went on the Paternity List on August 30 for the birth of his third daughter and returned on September 1. in 2017, he went 3-0 with two holds and a 2.85 ERA in 52 games and 60.0 innings pitched. he allowed 63 hits, six home runs, 23 runs, and two stolen bases. he also had nine walks versus 38 strikeouts. defensively, he committed one error. there was no room for him on the ALDS roster either.πŸ‘ΆπŸ™‚πŸ‘ŒπŸ˜ž

--Logan got roughed up after his first outing and had some more struggles along the way. he was also apparently continuing to work on stuff, right up to the final Cactus League game. when spring ended, he had a 9.90 ERA in 11 appearances and 10.0 innings. he gave up 11 runs, two homers, and four walks, but he did strike out 14. i didn't get a sense of dependability from him and i worry that his $5.5 million deal was a mistake. to be honest, i would say right now he's the weak link in our bullpen, though he may not be that weak. it's probable that he can become a dominant second left-hander in the pen to get out lefty hitters.

Boone Logan turned out to be a bust. we didn't need him and could have saved the money that the Indians used to sign him back in February. he left the game on July 19 with a strained/torn left latissimus dorsi muscle and went on the 10-Day DL for it the following day. on July 29, he was transferred to the 60-Day DL. he got a second opinion on August 4, which confirmed a high grade strain, and chose not to have surgery. because of that, he had to be shut down from throwing and it was assumed that he was done for the season. dude probably would have been better off having whatever procedure fixes that cause now he doesn't even know if he'll be okay for 2018, but that's not going to be our problem. Logan pitched in 38 games total, but missed just about the entire second half of the year. in 21.0 innings, he allowed 20 hits, two home runs, and 13 runs. he struck out 28, walked nine, and hit one batter. additionally, Logan finished with a 4.71 ERA, 1-0 record, four holds, and one blown save. the stats aren't totally bad, but it did seem like every time he came into a game, it was nerve-wracking.πŸ™πŸ€•πŸ‘Ž 

--Armstrong was pretty much equal with Otero in terms of effectiveness. he did a lot in the offseason to make improvements and it showed in spring. he worked on his mechanics, used weighted balls to train, and increased his bullpen work. he also kept in touch with pitching coach Mickey Callaway. he didn't give up a run until his 9th appearance on March 27 after 9.1 perfect innings. he finished with two runs allowed, three walks, 10 strikeouts, and 10.2 IP in 11 games. he also compiled a 2-1 record and 0.84 ERA. moreover, the Tribe tried to stretch him out so that he could pitch in multiple innings this year. he was my preference to complete the bullpen because he really seemed to be locked in this spring. he's had some success with us in the past, so here's hoping that continues.

Shawn Armstrong was the first "casualty" of the bullpen (and fairly quickly, i might add) when the Indians needed a fresh arm on April 14 and he was optioned to Columbus. after that, he wore out the I-71 between Columbus and Cleveland. he was recalled on May 2 and pitched 2.2 innings--the most of any of his outings this year. he was optioned on May 8, came back up on May 16, and sent down again on June 1. Armstrong was next brought up on June 18, then optioned on June 26 real fast before returning on June 27. he stayed in Cleveland until July 8, was recalled on July 26, then sent to Triple A on August 1 to make room for Joe Smith. he got called up on August 22, then optioned to Columbus on August 24. he was brought back on August 30 as the 26th man for that day's doubleheader and headed down to C-bus immediately after the DH. on September 5, Armstrong was back for good. he had a 1-0 record with Cleveland, with his first career win coming in his first outing on April 5. his final numbers, all of which were career highs, are as follows: 21 games, 24.2 innings, 23 hits, five home runs, 12 runs, 10 walks, 20 strikeouts, and a 4.38 ERA. he also hit one batter, threw one wild pitch, and allowed one stolen base. he did the best he could considering he had to yo-yo between the majors and minors every month.πŸš™πŸ’«πŸ‘ 

--Nick Goody had a very strong spring, finishing with a 0.90 ERA before being optioned to Columbus. he appeared in 10 Cactus League games, pitched a total of 10.0 innings, and induced 11 strikeouts. he allowed a mere one run while walking three. Francona outwardly stated that he would have made the team if they were going with an 8-man bullpen. Goody will probably be the first reliever called up when the Indians need a fresh arm or perhaps have an open roster spot, and i think he will definitely be helpful in our bullpen. 

Nick Goody was the first reliever called up, on April 14, and it was due to the fact that the Indians needed a fresh arm in their bullpen. i couldn't have nailed that prediction more perfectly. so he joined the Tribe a week and a half after the season opened and once he arrived, Goody stayed put in Cleveland. he went 17 outings, 20.1 innings, and 73 batters without giving up a run before finally allowing a runner to score in his 18th appearance of the season on June 3. overall, he had a 2.80 ERA, six holds, and 1-2 record in 56 games this year. he gave up 39 hits, seven home runs, and 20 runs. he totaled 20 walks versus 72 strikeouts! he also hit three batters and threw four wild pitches. defensively, he committed one error and was part of one double play. though it wasn't perfect, his terrific season indeed rivals that of Tyler Olson's. both were amazing. regrettably, Goody did not make it onto the ALDS roster. in hindsight, that was a lapse in judgment by Tito.πŸ˜€πŸ‘πŸ‘ŠπŸ‘πŸ˜”

--Kyle Crockett had one of the better springs out of all the relievers and was a contender to get that final spot in the bullpen right up until the last week. (although, i think the writing was on the wall for the lefty when Logan got signed.) in 10 outings and 10.0 innings, he struck out 13 and didn't walk a batter. he gave up three runs on nine hits and did not allow any homers. he also earned one save in two opportunities. he looked like the Crockett i always thought he would be, but never seems to be when he's actually on the Major League team. evidently, he pitches best when he gets rest in between appearances, but that won't always be the case in the majors and that's presumably why he hasn't done consistently well during his time with the Indians. 

Kyle Crockett was called up on May 25 after Lonnie Chisenhall went on the 7-Day concussion DL, but he was optioned to Columbus the next day. he was recalled again on June 7 to give the Tribe a new arm in the pen. he pitched in three games before returning to Triple A on June 17. it took until the September 1 roster expansions for him to rejoin the Indians and he pitched in Game 2 of that day's doubleheader, but Francona never called on him again after that. in total, Crockett appeared in four games, pitched 1.2 innings, and faced five batters. he gave up four hits and two runs and hit one batter. he allowed one walk versus two strikeouts and finished with a 10.80 ERA. Crockett has just not been the dependable left-handed reliever that he once was when he initially came up in the league in 2014, and i don't know if he'll ever get back to being that.πŸ™…πŸ˜• 

--Tyler Olson pretty much lost his shot to begin the year with the Indians once they signed lefty Logan, which is a real shame because he had the much better spring of the two. in 11 games, he gave up three runs, one home run, and six walks. he struck out 11 in 10.2 innings, earned a save, and acquired a 2.53 ERA. i expect him to get at least one call up this season.

Olson got called up twice, and the second time he stuck for good. his contract was purchased on July 21 after Logan went on the 10-Day DL with his left latissimus dorsi muscle strain. Olson was optioned back to Columbus on July 25 to make space for Austin Jackson when he came off the DL. he was recalled on July 31 and then finished the year in the bigs. Francona was not afraid to bring him into a high stress situation and always trusted him to keep a lead. Oly became so reliable it was almost automatic. on September 5, Olson set a new club record with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. on September 21, he reached 26 scoreless outings in a row and notched his first career save. when he recorded his 28th straight appearance without giving up a run on September 26, it was the longest streak in MLB history since 2008. at the end of 2017, Olson had registered a total of 30 consecutive scoreless appearances for a perfect season! he put together a 1-0 record with eight holds and one save in 20.0 innings. he only gave up 13 hits, walked six, hit one batter, and struck out 18. Olson's 30 games and 20.0 innings pitched marked the most of each without allowing a run or an earned run in a full season in MLB history. it was the best year yet of his career, hands down. obviously, Francona could not leave this lefty off his ALDS roster, and Olson pitched in three of the five games. he faced seven batters in 2.0 total innings, striking out two, and allowing just one hit, no runs, and no walks.πŸ₯‡πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ˜€πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘ 

Smith was reunited with the Indians on July 31 in exchange for minor leaguers LHP Thomas Pannone and 2B Samad Taylor. he was added to the 25-man roster on August 1 and got to work right away out of the bullpen. in 21 games with the Tribe, Smith pitched 18.1 innings and allowed 16 hits, one home run, seven runs, and one stolen base. he also struck out 20 batters, was part of one double play, totaled nine holds, earned one save, and compiled a 3.44 ERA. in the ALDS, Smith appeared in four games (Games 2-5) and did not give up any runs, keeping his postseason career 0.00 ERA intact. in 2.1 total innings, he walked one and struck out three. it was fun while it lasted, but his time in Cleveland may be over now once again.πŸ‘ͺπŸ‘‹πŸ˜€πŸ‘ 

Craig Breslow was signed to a minor league deal on August 4 and the Indians selected his contract from Columbus on August 26 shortly after Miller was shut down with patella tendinitis. Breslow appeared in seven games with the Tribe and pitched 4.1 innings. he gave up three hits and two runs, allowed two walks, and struck out five batters. he had a 4.15 ERA, which looks kind of high, but is mostly a result of a small sample size. he was credited with one hold as well. he did not make it onto the ALDS roster.😐 


What About... 

--Joe Colon's 19.80 ERA looks horrible, but he only pitched in five spring games with the Tribe. in an early outing, he allowed six runs and two home runs in 1.0 inning. he spent a lot of time away from the club while taking part in the WBC with Team Puerto Rico, which basically ruined his chance of making the roster. in his first appearance back from the WBC, he gave up a grand slam in the 9th inning and blew a game for us. knowing him from last season, i can confirm he's better than that, but clearly needs some time to work out his kinks.

Joe Colon was called up for the first time on May 3 when Corey Kluber went on the 10-Day DL with a lower back strain/tightness. he was optioned to Columbus on May 7 without ever pitching. then news came out on July 1 that Colon was suspended for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug, or a selective androgen receptor modulator (modulator LGD-4022), and would be out for the remainder of the regular season. on October 8, his suspension was complete and he was outrighted to Columbus.πŸ’ŠπŸ‘ŽπŸ˜ 


okay, i think that about covers it. if you have any questions about anyone, let me know. and if i forgot someone or forgot to mention something that you thought was a big deal, whether bad or good, leave it in a comment below! also feel free to leave an evaluation of your own about any of the players if you'd like, using grades or emojis!πŸ’­πŸ’»


MVPsπŸ‘

time to recognize those who were the most valuable players on the team this year. Kluber is going to win another Cy Young for his performance even though he missed a month with his lower back strain. Carrasco came into his own this season and pitched like an ace as well. and the star of the bullpen in 2017 was unquestionably Mr. Olson! he didn't get called up until the second half, but he pitched a perfect 20.0 innings and that can't be ignored. Ramirez, Lindor, and Encarnacion are getting the nod from me on the offensive side of things. Ramirez had a couple bad months, but enough hot ones so that the bads didn't hurt his total stats. Lindor got pull happy and had a rough patch, but he figured it out after the All Star Break and finished up strong. and EE ended up with the big HR and RBI numbers that we anticipated we'd see from him.


Postseason MVPsπŸ‘

i'm giving this honor to Bruce and Perez for their bats. and the pitchers who really stuck out to me are Carrasco, Tomlin, and Smith.


Letdown PlayersπŸ‘Ž

now i'm gonna take a minute to acknowledge the players who either didn't do well this year or had too many injuries that (negatively) affected their season. i'll start with Chisenhall. when he first came off the DL, he was doing so well, but then a calf injury kept him out for most of the second half. Kipnis also had issues throughout the year with a hamstring strain and barely played half the season. i won't be a homer, i'm putting Brantley in here, too, because of the 50 games he missed in August and September with that "mild" ankle sprain. after making the All Star Team, that was a huge blow for Dr. Smooth. he would have been the AL Comeback Player of the Year if not for that injury. Guyer has to be included in this category as well because his wrist sprain prevented him from being able to do the job he's supposed to do--hit left-handed pitching. he never really got into the swing of things to start with, and then having to miss time with the wrist problem threw his game all off.


Postseason Letdowns😠

Encarnacion just got shut down offensively and i don't think the ankle had anything to do with that. for the amount of money he got paid to come here and produce, he was a disappointment in the ALDS. i also have to name the Top 3 in the batting order--Lindor, Kip, and Ramirez. going 8-for-60 at the plate with 21 strikeouts in five games is no bueno. especially Ramirez because that guy's likely going to get a lot of MVP votes, so to not be able to hit in the postseason was quite unsatisfying. and i know there is still some mystery surrounding Kluber's performance, but regardless of if he was hurt, when your ace can't even get through 4 innings in a game, that is a serious letdown.


do you agree with my picks? enlighten me with your thoughts on who excelled and who bombed in a comment below.


and with that, i'm closing the book on 2017. it was a year that began with so much promise, then ended horribly. i know a lot of us believed we'd be playing in our second straight World Series this postseason. i certainly knew the competition to get there would be tough, but i never doubted that we'd get there. sigh. at least most of the team is under contract for next year, so hopefully we can make another run at it.

speaking of, as usual, i will be writing a Tribe Needs: Looking Ahead to 2018 blog, where i go through what areas the Indians could stand to improve on and which free agents the front office might go after. expect that to get posted sometime around Thanksgiving.πŸ¦ƒ

thanks so much for reading, and if you read through this entire blog, then YOU ARE AWESOME! leave a comment if you did and let everyone know!πŸ–

Go Tribe 2018! 145 days left until Opening Day!


if you're not already, be sure to follow me on twitter @clevelandgirl23 for all the latest offseason news on Brantley, including updates and progressions from his right ankle surgery. and don't forget, i have a subscription list if you'd like to join. then you will get notifications sent directly to your email every time i post a new blog. just enter your email address in the box underneath the Blog Archive sidebar over on the upper right side of this page and you'll be all set!πŸ“§

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