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Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 6/6/19

12:02
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hi folks, and welcome to today’s chat, the last one I’ll be doing before heading up to Cape Cod for a week and a half.

12:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s an annual tradition in the Jaffe-Span household, spearheaded by my awesome mother-in-law, Paula Span (who writes for the New York Times). I’ll be doing at least one chat and filing a few articles from up on the Cape (Wellfleet, to be more specific), and I just booked a very cool interview to conduct while I’m up there. Also scheduled to see at least one Cape Cod League game, which should be fun.

12:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Anyhoo, let’s get to…

12:06
Fred: Does Stanton opt out if he comes back and plays to projections in the second half and in 2020, or does he have to get back to MVP-type levels?

12:10
Avatar Jay Jaffe: If Stanton were to opt out, he’d be 30 years old and bypassing a minimum guarantee of $218 million over his next seven seasons, including the final buyout. Given last year’s dip in productivity, this year’s absence, and the industry’s changing free agent dynamic, right now I have a hard time imagining he’s going to do better than that, particularly as most of the other situations to which he’d be checking in lack the guaranteed commitment to compete that comes with being a Yankee.

12:10
Bread Gardner: I don’t think the HOF has anyone representing the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL); do you think it should?  Do you think a woman will ever break into MLB or MiLB?

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Depleted Phillies Lose McCutchen for the Season

On Tuesday, the Phillies snapped a five-game losing streak and maintained their razor-thin margin atop the NL East, but not before suffering a different kind of loss when they learned that Andrew McCutchen will miss the remainder of the season. The 32-year-old outfielder tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while trying to avoid being tagged during a rundown in the first inning of Monday’s game against the Padres. It’s a costly loss for the Phillies. Not only has McCutchen — the leadoff hitter in 59 of the team’s first 60 games — been one of the team’s most productive players, but Philadelphia’s outfield depth has been depleted by a variety of other means.

The play on which McCutchen got hurt was a strange one. After he led off the game by drawing a walk, Jean Segura popped up but lost his balance and fell to one knee in so doing. Rather than catching the ball, Padres second baseman Ian Kinsler alertly let it drop, then barehanded the ball on the first hop and threw to first baseman Eric Hosmer for the first out. That left McCutchen in no man’s land; he broke for second, then reversed towards first, threw on the brakes, then tried an ill-advised spin move to elude Hosmer. By the time he was tagged, Cutch was clutching his knee:

Rotten luck. “I didn’t feel it pop or anything,” McCutchen told reporters after the game. “Something felt uncomfortable, something that made me grab my knee and go down. I’ve had an ACL injury before and I know what that feels like. This didn’t feel like that.” Alas, the outfielder’s optimism proved to be ill-founded, as an MRI taken on Tuesday showed the tear.

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Powerhouse Dodgers’ Bullpen Misadventures Stand Out

Six in a row, 10 out of 11, 16 out of 19, 27 out of 35 — however you slice it, the Dodgers have been steamrolling everything in their path lately. They haven’t lost a series since dropping two of three to the Giants April 29 to May 1, and now own the NL’s best record (42-19) by a margin of 7.5 games. Their +96 run differential is nearly equal to the sum of those of the league’s second-ranked Cubs (+53) and third-ranked Diamondbacks (+46). Their offense owns the league’s highest wRC+ by a wide margin (117 to the Cubs’ 109), and their rotation owns the NL’s best ERA (2.88) and FIP (3.46) while also the most innings per start (5.89).

Which brings us to their bullpen. Sure, it hasn’t been a dumpster fire on the order of the Nationals’ (6.81 ERA, 5.08 FIP) or Orioles’ (5.84 ERA, 5.66 FIP), but there are only so many teams who can be that lucky. Through Monday, the Dodgers’ bullpen ranked 10th in the NL in ERA (4.71) and ninth in FIP (4.48). The former number doesn’t even account for the fact that the unit has allowed 43% of the runners inherited from the starters to score, the league’s second-worst mark; include all inherited runners and the rate falls to 39%, third-worst. While their relievers’ 7.6% walk rate is a league low, their 22.2% strikeout rate is the second-lowest, and their 1.37 homers per nine is mid-pack. Their clutch score — a measure of whether a player or team has done better or worse than expected in higher-leverage situations — of -2.54 is second-to-last in the NL, ahead of only the Nationals.

As you can see from those numbers above, the offense and rotation have largely papered over the bullpen’s problems. The week-long span from Sunday, May 26 through Saturday, June 1 — during which Dodger relievers combined for a 7.08 ERA and 6.64 FIP in 20.1 innings — illustrates the point in dramatic fashion:

  • Sunday, May 26 vs. Pirates: Caleb Ferguson entered with a seven-run lead and turned it into a four-run lead, though the Dodgers still won, 11-7.
  • Monday, May 27 vs. Mets: Joe Kelly entered with a five-run lead and failed to retire any of the three hitters he faced, the highlight of whom was a two-run homer by Adeny Hechavarria, the owner of a career .346 slugging percentage and a total of 29 homers compiled in eight seasons. When Kelly’s successor, Dylan Floro, got into trouble, manager Dave Roberts called upon Kenley Jansen for a five-out save, which he converted in the 9-5 win.
  • Read the rest of this entry »


Down Goes Frazier When it Comes to Defensive Metrics

Clint Frazier has made significant contributions to a banged-up Yankees team that sits atop the AL East with a hefty 38-20 record, but his performance in Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox in the Bronx was the stuff of which nightmares are made. You know, the kind in which you not only can’t stop doing that thing you’re not supposed to do, but you’re doing it in directly in front of 40,000 people emotionally invested in your success or failure, not to mention the millions more watching on television all around the world. The 24-year-old right fielder misplayed three balls in the late innings that helped to blow open a close game, the latest manifestations of his ongoing defensive woes.

Frazier’s misadventures began in the seventh, with the score 3-2 in favor of the Red Sox following a battle between former Cy Young-winning southpaws David Price and CC Sabathia. With reliever Luis Cessa on the mound, one out, and Michael Chavis on first base following a forceout, Frazier failed to keep Eduardo Nunez’s single in front of him. The ball rolled all the way to the wall, resulting in a two-base error that scored Chavis:

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No Ribbing About Carlos Correa’s Bizarre Injury

Owners of the majors’ fourth-best record (37-20) and second-best run differential (+92), the Astros have been humming along in typical powerhouse fashion, but a recent rash of injuries is testing their depth. In a 15-day span they sent Jose Altuve, Collin McHugh, George Springer, Max Stassi, and Aledmys Diaz to the injured list, all for comparatively mundane-sounding injuries to muscles and joints. On Wednesday they gave us something new, namely the news that Carlos Correa had suffered a fractured rib while receiving a massage at his home, which will sideline him for four to six weeks.

It’s a bizarre injury worthy of a Jayson Stark column, and one that set off speculation as to its veracity, to say nothing of the jokes. Unlike the Mets’ handling of Yoenis Cespedes’ recent eyebrow-raising ankle fractures, which the outfielder suffered on his ranch, the Astros gave no hint that Correa’s injury was the result of any mischief. Via The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan:

“Players do a lot of things outside of the field that we’re never aware of or not aware of. Everybody’s trying to get better in their own way, and I’m sure he was receiving treatment for specific reasons,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “It’s unfortunate that it happened that way, but we’re concerned right now mostly about getting him back. He’s going to have to rest for a little bit, let the bones heal and get back to doing the physical activity that will help him be back on the field.”

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Derek Dietrich Winds ‘Em Up and Lets It Fly

“You have to be good to be a hot dog,” said Pirates play-by-play broadcaster Greg Brown during Tuesday night’s Reds-Pirates contest, quoting Dock Ellis to conclude an anecdote about the May 1, 1974 start in which the Pirates’ free-spirited righty intentionally drilled the first three Reds he faced. In illustrating the long and oft-heated rivalry between the two teams, Brown appeared to arrive at an epiphany regarding the home run celebrations of Derek Dietrich — a subject of unhealthy fixation that had dominated an often cringeworthy broadcast while clumsily recapitulating the game’s generational culture war. The 29-year-old utiltyman had just clubbed his third dinger of the game, fourth of this week’s series, seventh in eight games against the Pirates, and 17th overall, the last a career high and a total tied for fifth in the majors.

Dietrich, who spent six years toiling for the Marlins before being designated for assignment and released last November (stellar personnel management there, Jeets), isn’t a player over whom opponents generally obsess. Beyond being a bat-first type whose defensive versatility depends upon certain levels of tolerance, he’s earned a reputation as something of a cut-up. In the minors, as a member of the Double-A Jacksonville Suns in 2013, he put on a display of his juggling skill that progressed to as many as five balls, then to bowling pins, literal machetes, and flaming torches:

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Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 5/30/19

12:01
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon and welcome to another edition of my Thursday chat. I’m in a spicy mood today thanks in part to having spent several hours listening and transcribing Tuesday evening’s cringeworthy Pirates broadcast while Derek Dietrich hit three home runs  (article forthcoming). That and the leftovers from dinner at Han Dynasty which will constitute today’s lunch. Anyway, on with the show…

12:01
fan of graphs: hypothetically, if the padres were to shut down chris paddack. what functionally happens? does he remain on the 25 man roster and just doesn’t pitch? does he get put on an inactive list? sent down?

12:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It would depend upon the date. Assuming the Padres wait until September, they would have the roster space just to let him be. Otherwise, they could option him (which would have service time ramifications and be kind of a dick move) or place him on the IL with, say, shoulder fatigue,

12:05
Birch: Any thoughts on Bridich’s comments about beat writers?

12:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Travis Sawchik and Dan Symborski saved us the trouble

Rockies GM Jeff Bridich on beat writers via @psaundersdp

Plus, check out GM Jeff Bridich’s shot at MLB beat writers. twitter.com/dpostsports/st…

. Also, Bridich’s free agent signing history via @DSzymborski

30 May 2019
12:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe:

Jeff Bridich’s MLB contract signings in free agency have been almost unfathomably incompetent. They make Battlefield: Earth and Pluto Nash look like investment triumphs by comparison.
30 May 2019

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Bill Buckner (1949-2019) Didn’t Let His Error Define Him

Fred Merkle, Fred Snodgrass, and Mickey Owen had it easy by comparison. In a time before television and the internet, they didn’t have to endure the endless replay of their infamous gaffes, the worst moments of their professional careers re-stoking the enmity of championship-starved fans at the press of a button. Bill Buckner, who died on Monday at the age of 69, wasn’t so lucky in that regard. While the man spent parts of 22 seasons in the majors, finished with a .300 batting average or better seven times, won a batting title, made an All-Star team, started for two pennant winners, and racked up a career total of 2,715 hits, all of that was overshadowed by the Mookie Wilson ground ball that trickled through his legs in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The clip (find it yourself) lives on eternally, the indelible image of his miscue accompanied by the excited voice of Vin Scully in one of his most memorable calls — a thrilling moment, unless you happened to be on the wrong end of it.

Though he was just one of several players who played prominent roles in Boston’s series loss, Buckner received countless boos and even death threats for his role in prolonging the Red Sox’s decades-long championship drought. Thankfully, both he and the Red Sox faithful eventually achieved some closure and catharsis regarding the matter. After a career spent grinding through countless ankle surgeries, injuries that required him to begin treatments five hours before game time — “Billy is the only guy in the game with cauliflowered feet,” quipped the Los Angeles Times’ Jim Murray in 1987 — he never lost the respect of the baseball world, and he accepted his spot in history with dignity and a measure of defiance.

According to his family, Buckner died after a battle with Lewy Body Dementia, a neurodegenerative disease that shares similarities with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Born in Vallejo, California on December 14, 1949, Buckner took to baseball so quickly as a youth that his mother falsified his birth certificate so that he could begin playing Little League a year early. At Napa High School, in addition to excelling as a lefty-swinging first baseman, he earned all-state as well as Coaches All America honors as a wide receiver. The Dodgers chose him in the second round in 1968 as part of the greatest draft haul the game has seen. In the four phases of the draft as it existed at the time, the team selected six players — Buckner, Doyle Alexander, and Tom Paciorek in the regular June draft; Davey Lopes in the January secondary phase, and Steve Garvey and Ron Cey in the June secondary phase — who would make a total of 23 All-Star teams, and signed 11 players who would combine for 235.6 WAR (Baseball-Reference’s version) at the major league level. (All of those are records according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis.) Read the rest of this entry »


Gary Sanchez is Killing the Ball

The Yankees snuck into first place in the AL East by dint of last weekend’s series win over the Rays, and they’ve since widened their lead to two games by steamrolling the Orioles in Baltimore, bashing 13 home runs during their four-game sweep — four of them by Gleyber Torres in a pair of multi-homer games, and three by Gary Sanchez, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Neither was in the lineup for Thursday afternoon’s contest, but both came up big while pinch-hitting in the ninth inning of a tie game, with Torres walking and scoring the winning run, aided by Sanchez’s single.

Of Sanchez’s three homers, the biggest of in terms of significance — if not distance — was Monday’s three-run shot off Mychal Givens, which broke a 7-7 tie and sent the Yankees to victory in a game they had once trailed, 6-1:

That one had an estimated distance of 389 feet. If it’s distance you crave, here’s Wednesday’s massive 440-footer off Dan Straily:

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Indians Drop CarGo, Retain Baggage From Offseason

When the Indians signed Carlos Gonzalez on March 19, it had the feel of a student buying an off-brand version of Cliff’s Notes at the Starbucks cash register to thumb through on the way to the final exam. It’s not that the team didn’t do their homework on the 33-year-old outfielder specifically — there’s a reason he was still a free agent at that late date. It’s that they went into the season looking particularly ill-prepared with regards to their outfield picture. The poor play of Gonzalez and the team’s other options isn’t the only reason why Cleveland finds itself looking up at the Twins in the AL Central standings, but it has contributed to a team-wide offensive decline that ranks as the majors’ largest.

The 2018 Indians, who went 91-71, were a very good offensive team. The 2019 Indians, who finished Wednesday 25-23, are not:

The Indians’ Offensive Decline
Year RS/G HR BB% SO% AVG OBP SLG wRC+
2018 5.05 216 8.8% 18.9% .259 .332 .434 104
Lg Rk 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 6
2019 3.92 51 10.4% 24.2% .224 .310 .366 78
Lg Rk 13 13 2 9 13 12 14 13

That 26-point drop in wRC+ is the majors’ largest.

Team-wide Changes in wRC+, 2018-19
Team 2018 2019 Dif
Indians 104 78 -26
Blue Jays 101 76 -25
Marlins 83 67 -16
Reds 95 79 -16
Pirates 96 84 -12
Tigers 84 72 -12
Nationals 101 90 -11
Athletics 110 101 -9
Red Sox 110 103 -7
Giants 82 77 -5
Orioles 87 83 -4
Yankees 111 107 -4
Rockies 87 84 -3
Padres 84 85 1
Rays 105 106 1
Dodgers 111 113 2
White Sox 92 94 2
Angels 100 104 4
Brewers 99 103 4
Mets 95 100 5
Royals 88 93 5
Phillies 91 97 6
Braves 97 106 9
Cardinals 98 107 9
Mariners 101 110 9
Diamondbacks 88 100 12
Cubs 100 113 13
Rangers 90 108 18
Astros 110 132 22
Twins 95 119 24

Note the 51-point swing in wRC+ among the AL Central’s top two teams. Where the Indians’ scoring has dropped by 1.13 runs per game relative to last year, the Twins’ has increased by exactly the same amount (from 4.56 to 5.69). At 32-16, they lead the Indians by 6.5 games; our playoff odds give them an 80.2% chance of winning the division to the Indians’ 19.8%

Roster turnover is a major reason for the Indians’ fall-off. Most notably, they lost Michael Brantely (124 wRC+) to free agency, as well as the oft-injured Lonnie Chisenhall (129 wRC+, albeit in just 95 PA due to time lost to strains in each calf), and in-season pickups Melky Cabrera (102 WRC+ in 278 PA) and Josh Donaldson (140 wRC+ in 60 PA). They also traded away Edwin Encarnacion (115 wRC+), Yandy Diaz (115 wRC+), Yan Gomes (101 wRC+), and Yonder Alonso (97 wRC+). In all, that’s eight of their 10 most productive bats (50 PA minimum), with Jose Ramirez (146 wRC+) and Francisco Lindor (130 wRC+) — two of the top hitters in the league — the holdovers. More on them shortly.

The trades have been a mixed bag, at least in the short term. Encarnacion and Diaz were part of a three-way deal that yielded Carlos Santana from the Mariners and Jake Bauers from the Rays. Santana, who spent 2010-17 with Cleveland before signing a free agent deal with the Phillies, has been the team’s best hitter (.291/.409/.491, 136 wRC+), more or less on par with Encarnacion (.254/.368/.514, 140 wRC+) but with more regular play at first base instead of DH. The 23-year-old Bauers, who hit just .201/.316/.384 (95 wRC+) as a rookie last year, has hit for a higher average but been less productive overall (.227/.312/.360, 79 wRC+) while Diaz has blossomed in Tampa Bay (.256/.339/.500, 124 wRC+). Alonso has fizzled with yonder White Sox (65 wRC+), as has Gomes for the Nationals (69 wRC+). That said, the Indians’ overall level of offensive production at catcher is virtually unchanged, as Roberto Perez’s gains have been offset by the struggles of backup Kevin Plawecki. In a lower profile move, the team dealt light-hitting backup infielder Erik Gonzalez for 25-year-old outfielder Jordan Luplow, who had managed just a 72 WRC+ in 103 PA in Pittsburgh; though he’s struck out in 34.2% of his 73 PA for the Indians, his 105 wRC+ (.242/.301/.500) is good for third on the team.

The Indians signed only one free agent to a major league contract this past winter, namely lefty reliever Oliver Perez — I swear, this isn’t the punchline from a decade-old Mets joke — on a one-year, $2.5 million deal. Of the position players they signed to minor league deals, Hanley Ramirez hit just .184/.298/.327 (69 wRC+) in 57 PA before getting his walking papers. Matt Joyce didn’t even make it to Opening Day; he was released on March 19, when the Indians signed Gonzalez, who hit just .210/.282/.276 (50 wRC+) in 117 PA; he managed just two home runs, and was striking out at a career-worst 28.2% clip.

By the time the Indians signed Gonzalez, it was already clear that they were considerably undermanned in the outfield. On February 1, I tried to match unsigned free agents from our Top 50 list with teams that had obvious needs, noting that according to our depth charts forecasts, the team’s left fielders ranked 29th in the majors in WAR, and their right fielders 28th; between those two positions, the bulk of the playing time was earmarked for Luplow, Tyler Naquin, Greg Allen, and Bradley Zimmer, the last of whom was (and still is) recovering from July 2018 surgery to repair a torn labrum. None of them had produced at anything close to an acceptable level last year, and aside from Luplow, none has done so this year, though in both cases, we’re not talking about huge sample sizes:

Cleveland’s Unproductive Corner Outfielders
Player 2018 PA AVG OBP SLG wRC+ 2019 PA AVG OBP SLG wRC+
Jordan Luplow 103 .185 .272 .359 72 73 .242 .301 .500 106
Tyler Naquin 183 .264 .295 .356 72 96 .278 .316 .378 80
Jake Bauers 388 .252 .201 .316 95 170 .227 .312 .360 79
Greg Allen 291 .257 .310 .343 75 42 .105 .167 .158 -18
Bradley Zimmer 114 .226 .281 .330 63 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

I’ve included Bauers here because while he was expected to be the team’s regular first baseman, he’s started there just six times, compared to 24 in left field and four in right. Note that aside from him, we’re not talking about spring chickens. Naquin is 28 years old, Allen and Zimmer are 26, and Luplow is 25. While one can find reasons why the Indians might remain committed to each of those players or find them potentially useful — Allen is a speedster who can play center field, Luplow a pull hitter with plus power and the only natural righty swinger in this mix, Naquin an above-average hitter in his most substantial taste of major league action in 2016, Zimmer a 2014 first-round pick who was on top 100 lists as recently as 2017 — none of them projected well, as the aforementioned rankings suggest, and as a group, they made for a high-risk portfolio. Thus, I suggested that Adam Jones, a much-needed righty bat, could provide a boost despite coming off a subpar season (98 wRC+, 0.5 WAR). The Indians ignored my sage advice (they always do, alas), and he went unsigned until March 11, when he landed with the Diamondbacks on a one-year, $3 million deal. Thus far, he’s hit .265/.323/.476 (110 wRC+) with nine home runs, a total that would lead the Indians. Oops.

Jones’ production is a reminder that not every late-signing free agent has struggled out of the gate, but Gonzalez, who as a lefty fit into the mix less well, certainly did. While the Indians tried him as a middle-of-the-order bat, the production wasn’t there; among players with at least 100 PA, his 50 wRC+ put him in the fifth percentile, while both his 86.6 mph average exit velocity and .286 xwOBA put him in the 18th. Still, it’s a jarring sight to see yesterday’s cleanup hitter become today’s just-released free agent, particularly with Naquin having recently hit the IL due to a left calf strain. Zimmer is set to begin a rehab assignment next week, which leaves room for 24-year-old rookie Oscar Mercado, a 45 Future Value fourth-outfielder type who placed 12th on the team’s list this year, to get a look.

As for the rest of the lineup, center fielder Leonys Martin, whose acquisition I praised last July 31 thanks to his newfound ability to elevate the ball, has returned from the life-threatening infection that felled him after he played just six games for the Indians. While he showed some pop in April (five homers, 93 wRC+), he has scuffled mightily in May (one homer, 60 wRC+). Second baseman Jason Kipnis, who is coming off a pair of subpar offensive seasons (81 wRC+ in 2017, 89 in ’18) but was good enough defensively to still post 2.1 WAR last year, has been dreadful (.218/.301/.336, 70 wRC+).

Which brings us to Lindor and Ramirez, the twin engines of this lineup, and two of the majors’ six most valuable players by WAR last year (7.6 for the former, 8.0 for the latter). Lindor, who set additional career highs with 38 homers and a 130 wRC+, missed the team’s first 19 games due to a right calf strain, but has largely returned to form (.296/.349/.513, 119 wRC+). Ramirez, who outdid Lindor with 39 homers and a 146 wRC+ while spending most of the 2018 season as an MVP candidate, has the majors’ seventh-lowest wRC+ out of 170 qualifiers (60) via an abysmal .196/.296/.302 line. As Devan Fink noted just two weeks into the season, his struggles actually date back to last August, and appear to coincide with his attempts to beat the shift while batting left-handed. Focusing only on 2019 stats, he’s been shifted against in 57% of his left-handed plate appearances but just 35% of his right-handed ones. Shift or no, he’s been pulling the ball less, going opposite field more often, and as he’s done it, his average fly ball distance has fallen dramatically:

Jose Ramirez’s Batted Balls, 2018-19
Split GB FB Pull Oppo Avg FB Dist HR/FB Avg FB Dist Pull HR/FB Pull FB wRC+
2018 L 32.1% 46.4% 47.6% 20.6% 329 19.1% 356 52.0% 212
2019 L 32.0% 46.6% 42.3% 24.0% 311 4.2% 326 16.7% -17
2018 R 36.4% 44.8% 55.5% 18.1% 309 8.7% 320 12.5% 45
2019 R 30.4% 52.2% 37.0% 34.8% 301 8.3% 314 25.0% 17

From the left side, which constitutes 62% of Ramirez’s plate appearances, his average fly ball distance has decreased by 18 feet, and his rate of home runs per fly ball is just a quarter of what it was last year. He’s dropped eight feet while batting righty, where his home run rate is basically unchanged (we’re talking about a sample of just 24 fly balls). Note the 30-foot gap when he pulls the ball on the fly, which is central to the Indians’ offensive philosophy, as Travis Sawchik pointed out last year. In 2018, 26 of his 50 pulled fly balls as a left-hander went over the wall, but this year, it’s just two out of 12; from the right side, the percentage has risen, but in smaller sample sizes (from four out of 32 to two out of eight).

How much of Ramirez’s struggles are mechanical versus psychological or philosophical, I can’t say, but his fall-off has been precipitous, and the Indians’ dearth of solid bats to help the lineup withstand his slump sticks out like a sore thumb. The play of Mercado and the return of Zimmer aside, any influx of offense will have to either come from within or by trading from a farm system that’s generally considered to be in the upper half of the league but is currently lacking in near-ready help.

Note that while the team has lost starting pitchers Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger to injuries until at least next month, the rotation still ranks among the AL’s top five in both ERA (4.03) and FIP (3.97), while the bullpen (3.04 ERA, 3.69 FIP) is in the top three in both categories. The pitching has kept this team competitive. The Indians are in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2015 due to an offense whose gaps were entirely foreseeable.