Strikeouts Should Not Hold the Cleveland Indians Lineup Back in 2020

Mark Warmuth

In today's baseball, hitters striking out is considered a normal facet of hitting. However, it is still true that for the most part, teams that strikeout the most, generally aren't successful.

Here are the American League teams that fanned the most in 2019 with their won loss records:

Detroit 47-114
Seattle 68-94
Texas 78-84
Chicago 72-89
Toronto 67-95

A couple of National League teams made the playoffs despite a lot of strikeouts, but the other three teams were among the four worst squads in the Senior Circuit:

San Diego 70-92
Milwaukee 89-73
Colorado 71-91
Miami 57-105
Atlanta 97-65

We ask this because although the Cleveland Indians finished third best in the AL in making contact a year ago, this season they will likely have two players in their lineup who will strikeout a lot in Franmil Reyes and newcomer Domingo Santana.

Reyes struck out in 28.5% of his at bats a year ago, while Santana fanned more often, striking out in 32.5% of his plate appearances.

The major league average was 23% in 2019.

In looking at the teams who were successful despite all the strikeouts, the Brewers and Braves, we noticed Milwaukee had only two players who whiffed more than 120 times: Yasmani Grandal (139 K's, but with 109 walks) and Eric Thames (140).

Atlanta had four players with over 120 K's, but three of them (Freddie Freeman, Josh Donaldson, and Ronald Acuna Jr) also walked more than 75 times.

Guys like Jim Thome, who strikeout a lot and walk a frequently still add to the offense greatly.

We think having Reyes and D. Santana in the lineup together can work, but Terry Francona needs to space them out in the batting order. What you don't want is a situation where you get runners in scoring position and then don't make contact so they stay right where they are.

When Domingo Santana had his best season in 2017 (30 HR, 85 RBI, 875 OPS), he did have a .371 on base percentage because he walked 73 times.

Before he was hampered by an elbow injury in the second half of last season in Seattle, his first half numbers showed a .354 OBP and a 850 OPS.

Santana does have a .343 career OBP while Reyes is .321.

To be fair, Reyes is just 24 years old and has only been in the major leagues for two seasons, compared to the 27 year old Santana, who has spent parts of every year since 2014 in the big leagues.

It helps the Indians, who again struck out the third least amount of times in the AL in 2019, that only one player on the current roster, catcher Roberto Perez, fanned more than 120 times (127) last season.

So, it is not as though a full year of Reyes and the addition of Santana are going to cause the Cleveland offense to be strikeout prone.

From all reports, Francona is going to put Reyes somewhere in the middle of the order, perhaps 4th, and if he does that, putting Santana in let's say the #7 hole should be able to work out just fine.

If Domingo Santana is healthy, and returns to the player he was in 2017 and in the first half of last season, the Indians added a big time thumper to their batting order.

In today's game, you need those guys. Look at what the Minnesota Twins did a year ago.

And they still have plenty of players who can put the bat on the ball and get on base.

The strikeouts shouldn't be a deterrent.