Indians Switch Hitting Infield Gives the Tribe an Interesting Edge in 2020
There is no question that Cleveland Indians' manager Terry Francona loves flexibility. He loves relievers who can pitch to both right-handed and left-handed hitters, and he uses the platoon advantage more than any other skipper in the game.
Even though he is the best in the sport at that, we believe he loves switch-hitters because then he doesn't have to worry about it.
The infield he will manage this season has that trait covered. They all can hit from both sides of the plate.
With the signing of Cesar Hernandez in the off-season to man second base, most nights, Tito will pencil in the four switch-hitters at the four infield positions--
1B: Carlos Santana
SS: Francisco Lindor
3B: Jose Ramirez
The left side of the infield features two of perhaps the 20 best players in the game in Lindor and Ramirez. The shortstop is well regarded as one of the best five in baseball, and let's not forget that Ramirez has two top three MVP finishes in the last three seasons.
Lindor, who won't turn 27 until after the 2020 season (if there is one), is pretty even from both sides of the plate, having a 857 career OPS from the right side and a 832 OPS from the left side.
His slugging percentage is virtually the same from either side, but he's a bit more patient hitting right handed. He does hit more home runs from the left side though.
Ramirez, who turns 28 in September, is more lethal from the left side of the plate (career 850 OPS), but is still very good from the right side (808).
He also hits for a better average from the right side, but his slugging percentage from the left side is .494, 27 points higher than when he is facing southpaws.
The two superstars are also equally effective at home or on the road, but slightly better at Progressive Field.
Santana, the eldest of the group at 34, is actually a better hitter right-handed, which is odd because you think of most of his big hits as an Indian has come from the left side.
The first baseman has a 834 lifetime OPS from the right side, mostly due to a .277 batting average, which is 40 points higher than from the left side. And he's even more of an on base machine against lefties, .382 OBP vs. .360 vs. right-handers.
To us, he has always looked like he had a shorter swing hitting right-handed.
His batting average and OPS against RHP did improve last season, but he still was more effective against lefties.
The newcomer, Hernandez, just turned 30 a week ago, and he fits in with the others in that he is very similar from both sides of the dish, 736 career OPS vs. righties and 726 vs. left-handers.
His ability to get on base is the same from both sides, but his numbers show he has a little more pop (.385 slugging vs. .372) hitting from the left side.
The primary back up for Francona would figure to be Mike Freeman, a left-handed hitter who did a solid job for Cleveland last season, hitting .277 with a .362 on base percentage.
With the extra players expected to be on the roster for this season, we would bet right-handed hitting Christian Arroyo will be eligible for most games.
Once a top 100 prospect, Arroyo has been hampered by injuries and has accumulated just 228 big league at bats. Still, he's just 25 years old.
Yu Chang and rookie Nolan Jones, the Tribe's top prospect, will also likely be on the traveling party this season.
With three all-stars, the Cleveland infield should be among the best in the game. That is, if there is a baseball season at all.