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Sunday Notes: A surge to relevancy

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This column is merely a short and simple assembly of stats, observations and preponderances from the past week as well as what is just around the corner.

  1. The Indians as of noon Sunday sit at eighth in Major League Baseball in runs scored, and fifth in the American League, which may be relatively shocking to those who watch the Indians with regularity. As well the Indians offense is generally underrated because of both things it does well being under-appreciated and things it does poorly being overvalued.
  2. Which leads us to OBP and lineup depth. The Indians are 4th in MLB in OBP at .330 as a team, third in the American League behind Oakland and Toronto both regarded as elite offenses this season. OBP is essential to run scoring for the Indians as they lack a traditional “anchor” level middle of the order.
  3. Of course these anchor types are becoming increasingly scarce as offense has declined over the past five years, unfortunately the general baseball watching population has not picked up on the decline. The other general assumption is that in order to have a good offense it needs to be anchored by a 30-100 guy. This is simply not the case as the Tribe’s production shows.
  4. Indeed the Indians front office deserves immense credit for the cost effective offense which they have created. The Indians have focused on OBP ability in general when considering the construction of its lineup as well as the blessing of development for a few specific players. Swisher and Murphy were two low and mid-level free agents, each adding length and on base ability to the lineup.
  5. Though Bourn, and utility guy Mike Aviles underwhelm on occasion with OBP, their cost-value gap allowed the Indians to break the model.
  6. Of the Indians with 100 plate appearances Carlos Santana is fifth on the team with a .342 OBP, absurd. Santana’s Major League best 20.2% walk rate is has allowed him to remain a valuable offensive player despite a batting average hurt by BABIP issues.
  7. Worth adding is that Santana looked absolutely phenomenal on Saturday having his usual quota of high quality of at bats as well as squaring up strikes when they got too much of the plate.

On Justin Masterson and velocity.

A lot has been made of Masterson’s decreasing fastball velocity and its overarching effects on his ability to pitch efficiently and productively. So I grabbed a handy little velo chart to take a quick and relatively vague look at it as a     potential issue.

Masterson Velo Charts

Obviously pitch velocity is down but perhaps not as drastically as we have been led to believe over the past month, which has a occurred for a few reasons. First people have been comparing his early season velocity to last years full season velocity. What is most clear is that his velocity generally increases in the early months and the flatlines with negligible movement to either side of the mean for the remainder of the season.

Secondly, on his most used offering the sinker or two-seamer the velocity decrease is not nearly as drastic of a differential. In fact, in June of 2013 Masterson’s sinker was at 90.92, in his one June start in 2014 it was at 91.12. In May 2014, it was a little more than 1/2 a MPH slower than 2013, which is a relatively minimal difference.

Obviously velocity has been an issue for Masterson but it has become overplayed, hiding the other issues which face him. Th first issue being he is a ground ball pitcher in front of the worst infield defense in baseball; the second being control issues which spot up for him from time to time.

Unfortunately for Masterson and other Indians starters, rectifying this infield defense is not under their control

Author: Michael Hattery

Currently an Attorney. I have been fortunate enough to be published at Fangraphs, The Hardball Times, The Athletic Cleveland, and Marquette Sports Law Review. Follow @snarkyhatman

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