The Major League Baseball trading deadline is less than a week away, and we all know the Cleveland Indians have gaping holes in the lineup.
They are tied for 13th in the American League in runs scored per game, and they remain last in the league in slugging percentage and second to the bottom in OPS. The one statistic they are doing well in is drawing walks, they are 4th in the AL.
Although it seems like they strikeout a lot, they are only 8th in the league, but in thinking about some of the rallies that have died recently, it seems as if when they need a big hit, instead they get a strikeout.
Obviously, when your starting outfield is batting under .200 collectively, any batter doing anything offensively would be an improvement.
However, to us, what the Tribe needs is more of a professional hitter than a big time slugger for this offense.
The Tribe has five hitters in their lineup right now than have belted 30 home runs or more in the their careers: Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, Franmil Reyes, and Domingo Santana.
However, how much would getting another all or nothing slugger like Reyes (35 strikeouts, 8 walks) or D. Santana, who surprisingly has walked 12 times this season against 24 whiffs, help this offense greatly.
We confess we do not like hitters with poor strikeout to walk ratios. While there are exceptions, we find those players ultimately have a shorter span of usefulness because eventually pitchers do not have to throw them strikes to get them out.
Case in point, it is why we had doubts about Oscar Mercado coming into this season. He fanned three times as much as he walked last season. This year, he struck out 14 times, walking just three.
Players with high strikeout totals and high walk totals, are usually very good offensive players. Jim Thome and Travis Hafner come to mind.
Think about Carlos Santana. The switch-hitting first baseman is batting just .212 this season with only three homers. You know what he’s not doing for the most part? Getting himself out. He leads the AL in taking walks by a large margin.
One guy we would love to have is (and we aren’t saying he’s available) would be a player like Whit Merrifield of the Royals.
He’s a .296 lifetime hitter (791 OPS), and although his strikeout rate has gone up a bit in recent years, he puts the bat on the ball. And he’s versatile, capable of playing 2B and the outfield.
If Arizona decides to sell, Starling Marte would be of interest too. He has a career 794 OPS, and although he doesn’t walk a great deal (career high 35 in 2018), his strikeout totals have steadily declined since he came into the league.
One thing is for certain, the Tribe certainly needs to lengthen its batting order. Although Tyler Naquin has been on a little hot streak recently, most nights once Reyes bats, it would be a good time to refill whatever snacks you are eating while watching the Indians.
Not much is going to happen.
Don’t complain about the catchers hitting either. Understand, the Cleveland organization values defense and handling pitchers first and foremost from their backstops.
If they get any offense, like they did a year ago from Perez, that’s a bonus. They don’t care if they hit .150 as long as they do their primary job.
We feel confident the front office will do something before Monday’s deadline. The pitching is at World Series winner level. The offense is at expansion team level. Improving the latter could lead to a long post-season run.