Cleveland Indians’ offense has struggled through four games, but one stat might surprise you – cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio — After four games, it’s clear that the Cleveland Indians’ offense is having a tough time getting on track. Manager Terry Francona says the club is finding it difficult to bunch hits together despite hitting some balls hard.

“I don’t ever want to talk down our offense, because that’s not what we’re here for,” Francona said after Monday’s shutout loss to Kansas City. “But we’re going to have to string some together.”

Granted, it’s an incredibly small sample size, but Cleveland ranks fourth from the bottom in the American League in offensive WAR according to Fangraphs.com. Only winless Oakland along with Boston and Toronto are worse.

2021 Indians CLE total League Avg AL Rank/15
Runs scored 13 21 14th
Total hits 26 34 13th
Batting average .205 .239 12th
On-base pct. .297 .326 10th

They are middle of the pack in slugging percentage (seventh at .370) and OPS (eighth at .667).

But among AL teams the Indians have struck out the fewest times, and by a considerable margin. The next closest team to their 22 strikeouts is Boston with 32. The league average is 40. Meanwhile, the White Sox (51) and Twins (50) have both struck out more than twice as much as the Indians.

Only the Mets’ 11 strikeouts are fewer than the Indians, but they’ve only played one game due to COVID-19 cancellations. And in case you’re wondering, yes, Francisco Lindor has one of those 11 strikeouts.

This means Cleveland is having no trouble putting the bat on the ball, but so far it has been miserable at finding the outfield grass. The batting average on balls in play is just .208. That’s 27th out of 29 teams because Washington hasn’t played a game yet. Only Atlanta and the Cubs are worse.

Their offensive WAR according to Fangraphs is 0.1. That’s 23rd out of 29. Oakland, Boston and Toronto are the only AL teams worse.

Playing in miserable conditions against the Tigers during last week’s season opener certainly didn’t help things. Francona said it’s a reality of playing in cold-weather cities such as Detroit and Cleveland in April.

“How many times do you hear guys come back to the dugout where they hit a ball really well and it just didn’t carry out and it’s frustrating,” Francona said. “That’s just the way it is on some of the east coast cities in April. That’s part of it. When you have chances to move runners, sometimes you have to take advantage of it.”

Slugger Franmil Reyes said hitters are putting up good at-bats, they’re simply hitting the ball at defenders who are making plays. Reyes believes the hits will start coming soon.

“When everybody starts hitting and those balls start dropping, we’re gonna be good,” Reyes said. “I trust my teammates, I trust myself, I trust my pitcher and the pitchers are doing a very good job. So, when those balls start falling, we’re gonna be good.”

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