Offensive Woes Have Held Tribe Back Before
By Christian Petrila
The Indians and their fans know a thing or two about déjà vu. Seeing how quickly the offense went south in June 2011, the recent struggles should raise every red flag in the city, as well as a little panic.
The 2011 Indians had a cumulative batting average of .228 in June. They scored a mere 91 runs that month en route to a 10-17 record. They were 32-20 and held a five game lead on June first. By the end of the month, they were tied for first and went from 12 games over .500 to five games over. They were held to three runs or fewer 14 times. We all know how last season ended.
So far in 2012, it’s more of the same. Entering Tuesday, the Indians have played 16 games in June. They entered 27-23 and 1.5 games out of first. Six of those 16 games, however, have seen the Indians score three runs or fewer. If it weren’t for Jason Kipnis’ ninth inning home run in St. Louis, that number could easily be seven. They did score 10 runs on Monday night against the Reds, but other than that, the offense has still been struggling. The team is hitting .261, which is actually the highest they’ve hit all season. The bad news is that the team’s on-base percentage has dropped like a brick. Throughout the early parts of the season, the Indians were among the very top in the MLB in OBP. Now, they’re tied with Bostonfor ninth. The decline has been steady. From .344 in April to .327 in May and now .306 in June. Their June OBP is 23rd in the Majors.
So what is the reason for the poor hitting? Here’s one. Lou Marson has a higher batting average than Carlos Santana. In June, Santana is well below theMendozaline with a batting average of .186. For a team that considers him one of their top hitters, that’s horrendous. Marson, who couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn entering June and was subject to piles upon piles of scrutiny from Indians fans, is hitting .400. Granted, Marson has about half the at bats Santana has had this month, but still, the difference is staggering. Santana has five RBI this month, while Marson has three. Marson actually has more total bases this month than Santana. Apocalypse now, anyone?
Another reason continues to be the lack of a competent hitter in left field. The platoon of Johnny Damon, Shelley Duncan and Aaron Cunningham has been underwhelming, and that’s putting it nicely. The three are hitting a combined .195. .195. That’s simply… I don’t even know. I can’t even think of an adjective for it.Duncan has the highest OBP at .301, but that’s still only good enough for the eighth best number among the regulars. The only starter with a lower OBP is Casey Kotchman.
Speaking of Kotchman, he’s another reason for the struggles. He’s only hitting .222 this month. An extreme optimist would say, “At least that’s not his worst batting average in a month this season.” A realist would reply, “That’s pretty sad.”
Kotchman’s OBP is at his season low and he’s on pace to strike out the most times he has in a month all season. He needs to figure it out because it seems the Indians are going to stick with him at first until the bitter, bitter end, as was hinted when Matt LaPorta was called up and demoted again before the week was done.
The Indians have hit a roadblock offensively for the second straight June. With the pitching struggling as it has, offensive production is imperative for the Indians success. Otherwise, the long summer days will seem even longer.
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