Cleveland Series Preview
I had said the Indians would be a sneaky good offense and thus would have a chance to finish as high as 3rd or even 2nd if things broke right in the AL Central, but thus far they have been pretty bad with their team wide .307 wOBA. Of course, this doesn’t apply to Shin-Soo Choo, who has a .515 wOBA and is the talk of the American League. Choo’s .385 BABIP is high, but not absurdly so, as his past two years he’s had .370 and .368 BABIPs. Given that his LD% is a bit lower this year than it was last year, I think he’s due for a little correction. The big star has been his homerun rate (percentage of balls hit in the air, those being line drives, flyballs and popups, that go over the fence), which is 19%. The league average is roughly 6% (although that of course factors in flyballs hit by guys like Nick Punto).
The Indians have had back to back good games from their staff, but as a whole it hasn’t been very good. Justin Masterson is getting a nice run, getting hitters to swing and miss at more of his pitches than he ever has before. However, Masterson has also put up with an absurdly high BABIP, which will come down. So maybe a slightly above average pitcher is what Masterson is when it’s all said and done.
Twins starter Kevin Slowey has actually been the second worst pitcher on the staff this year. It’s clear that he has control issues, as his walk rate is 3 times higher so far this year than his MLB career average. Whether he is feeling some residual effect from his wrist injury or not remains to be seen, but hopefully it’s just something he has to adjust to.
The other Twins starter who needs to get his ass in gear is Nick Blackburn. Blackie got dominated by the Royals in his last start, but I think he’ll be better going forward. His homerun rate is 3 times his career average, which is also right around the MLB average. Blackburn is also walking more guys and striking out less guys than he has in his career. While I don’t think he’s an ace, I think he’ll be better going forward.
Offensively, the Twins have been pretty damn good. No surprise that Mauer and Morneau have been great. Denard Span, despite his batting average woes, still has a .347 wOBA in part because of his 16% BB rate, which would be the highest of his career. And, despite some strike zone command issues, Michael Cuddyer is riding a .340 BABIP to a .396 wOBA