The dichotomy of the top third of the order and middle third of the order: A study of the last 7 days
Since the early days of last week, Santana has solidified himself as the number two hitter in Terry Francona’s “new and improved” lineup. Jason Kipnis has been hitting leadoff since the beginning of the Toronto series and Michael Brantley has been in the three hole since the beginning of the season.
In the past seven days, the top of the lineup has been very productive. In 62 ABs, the tenacious three have 20 hits (.318), three 2Bs, one 3Bs, two HRs, and 11 RBIs. The three have also drawn seven walks in the same span against six strike outs.
In big picture terms: The first three hitters in the Indians lineup are getting on base at a very good clip (.378) and hitting the ball very well.
Let’s look at the middle of the lineup in comparison
The middle of the lineup in the past seven days has generally consisted of a rotating group of four players:
- Brandon Moss,
- Nick Swisher,
- Lonnie Chisenhall and,
- David Murphy
Now, David Murphy has only had 8 PAs in the past seven days and his role has been somewhat diminished. I will include his numbers post-facto regardless so as to not bias the data.
Anyway: The middle of the lineup.
In the past seven days, the middle three players* has been moderately productive. In 56 Abs, the three middle hitters have only 14 hits (.247) with three 2Bs, one 3B, 2 HR, and eight RBIs. In the same breath, the middle lineup has walked only three times and struck out twice as many times (6).
The middle lineup is getting on base nearly 10% less than their top-of-the-lineup counterparts in addition to hitting 7% less (with regard to batting average) than those same counterparts.
Here are the middle-of-of-the-lineup hitters numbers with RISP (which almost exclusively were either Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, or Michael Brantley) in the past seven days:
- Brandon Moss: 1/8
- Nick Swisher: 0/6
- Lonnie Chisenhall: 3/5
- David Murphy: 2/4
For those of you who don’t enjoy math, the latter four “mashers” are a paltry 6/23 with RISP (.261). We’re going to give Nick Swisher a break considering he just broke into the lineup within the last seven days coming back from his start on the DL.
When it comes to the likes of Brandon Moss though, that .125 average with RISP is EGREGIOUSLY FOUL. The front office brought him in to do one thing: Drive in runs.
Thus far, he isn’t doing that. He is being given plenty of opportunities to do so. If Kip, ‘Los and Dr. Smooth get on base anymore, they’ll (well, mostly Kip) will be on pace for a couple of the greatest months in MLB history.
When you have disparity between sets of hitters like the Indians do now, you’re not going to see gobs of runs being scored; just a run here and there. When lineups are experiencing normally distributed hitting with RISP rather than the severely left (left being the front of the lineup) skewed version we’re currently witnessing, good things happen.
For those of you who want to argue about the circular nature of batting orders as it pertains to a “normal distribution”, leave it in the comments. I’ll go in depth there a little more if you have serious issues.
Jason Kipnis: April showers bring May flowers…well, hits anyway:
Can we just talk about Jason Kipnis right now?
That dude is on fire. I’d really like him to sit down with Brandon Moss and teach him his secret ways. In the month of May, Jason Kipnis is hitting .488/.551/.814 and, over the course of the season, hitting right-handed pitching really well.
Halfway through May, he’s already eclipsed the amount of walks he had over the entire month of April (and end of March; 6:5). This would indicate more patience from Kip at the plate (i.e.: he’s working counts deeper). At the same time, he’s only struck out four times through nearly half of May. In the month of April, he struck out 13 times. If he can continue to maintain his patience at the plate, I see his strikeout rate remaining low.
To put the cherry on the top of the sundae that has been Jason Kipnis’ 2015 May, he has six 2B halfway through May. In March/April, he only had one. I don’t expect him to hit a ton of homeruns; he’s not a power guy. I expect him to hit for average and hit to all parts of the field well. His numbers through the first half of May tell me that he’s figuring things out and getting into a groove.
Like I said, hopefully Brandon Moss can sit down with Kip and ask him about the ways of the force.
These cleats were made for walkin’
I wanted to quickly touch on Carlos Santana’s walk rate through one and a half months of the season. He’s only second to Bryce Harper (30) in walks with 29 and only has 22 strikeouts (that’s a 1.32 BB/K ratio). Harper’s BB/K ratio is 0.77).
It should also be noted that Harper has 10 more ABs than Santana.
Harper is raking right now (similar to Kipnis) and has like…. 15 HRs in his last 5 games (obviously exaggerating, but he’s still blasting HRs like no other).
With Santana’s placement as the number two man in the lineup, those walks are going to be all the more important. They’ll mean that much more if the guys behind him can drive him in. Letting Santana rot on 1st or 2nd base isn’t going to help this team win and I know that he would do anything to help his teammates bring him around and in.
Corey Kluber: Doin’ the Cards dirrrrrty on Wednesday
Finally, can we talk about the bad man, Corey Kluber?
On Wednesday, the big dog went 8.0 innings, allowed only one hit and collected 18 strikeouts.
Yeah, you read that right: E-I-G-H-T-E-E-N strikeouts.
Six golden sombreros.
His WHIP on Wednesday was 0.13. He’s just filthy.
Oh, by the way: He did this all on 113 pitches and dropped his ERA by nearly 80 points (5.04 to 4.27). Interestingly enough too, his GB/FB ration was 1:5. In his more recent starts, his strikeout totals have been lower and his GB/FB ratio has been 1.00+ (abnormal for him). Corey Kluber’s success lies in leveraging his fastball down in the zone and working his off speed stuff (cutter/slider) in on the hands of lefties and trailing away from righties. When he lets his fastball rise up into the zone (like Danny Salazar) and doesn’t have get movement from his off speed stuff, it allows hitters to put bat-on-ball and put it in play; often in the air.
I didn’t have to watch the game on Wednesday to know that, but I can guarantee he had everything working tonight as I just described.
In other news:
In my first softball action of the year, I went 2/5 with 2 RBIs. In the field, I played 3B for the first time in a while and had 3 putouts and 1 error. If I’m going to channel my inner Lonnie Chisenhall, I get at minimum one error per game right?
Keep it real Tribe fans. I’ll catch you on the flip side