2021 Cleveland Indians: Lineup Tweaks

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2021 Cleveland Indians Offense So Far

The 2021 Cleveland Indians have been very up and down offensively to begin the season, and there have already been some changes made by manager Terry Francona twenty games into the season. As we’re roughly twenty games into the regular season so far the 2021 Cleveland Indians offense has been lackluster, to say the least. While statistics I am going to use to assess the lineup show the good and the bad to begin the season, they are still being procured from a small amount of data and should be taken with a grain of salt.

The 2021 Cleveland Indians rank 26th in runs scored and wRC+, 15th in home runs, and have the eighth-worst BsR amongst all 30 MLB teams. They have the 12th highest walk percentage, the 10th lowest strikeout percentage, and the worst BABIP in all of baseball as a team. The low BABIP shows that the lineup has had a lot of bad luck so far when they put balls in play and the fact that the team has the fifth-highest average exit velocity and fourth-highest barrel percentage supports my deduction because both of these statistics show that the position player group is frequently making optimal contact and not seeing the results they typically would.

The walk and strikeout rates show that the 2021 Cleveland Indians position player group is not swinging and missing at an alarming rate, which is very assuring to see so far during the first 20 games of this 162 game marathon. So far the 2021 Cleveland Indians have played 21 games, and in their first seven games they averaged 4.5 runs a game. During their second seven game stretch they averaged 2.7 runs a game, and during their third stretch of seven games they averaged they averaged 4.2 runs a game.

Even with poop BABIP luck in the midst of frequently making effective contact, drawing walks and avoiding strikeouts at a respectable rate, and making a lot of mistakes on the base paths which has led to a poor BsR the Cleveland Indians lineup has not been a complete dumpster fire. Let’s take a look at the lineup tweaks that have taken place, and see how they effect the lineup going forward.

Lineup Changes

Cesar Hernandez is back in the leadoff spot after getting a large majority of his plate appearances in the two-hole up to this point. Jordan Luplow has led off against lefties and sat versus right-handed pitchers, but he is starting to accrue more plate appearances against righties as he has had more success and proven he is more than a platoon hitter. Expect to see Luplow frequently appear at the top of the lineup for the near future in order to see whether or not he is taking that step forward to becoming a full-time player.

Amed Rosario has been relegated to the lower third of the lineup and is seeing more reps in centerfield. I explained the tools he brings to the team and how a change in scenery could help him improve in this article. This development ensures Andres Gimenez will get more playing time at shortstop from this point forward, which is a good thing considering Gimenez’s upside and youth.

Jose Ramirez, Franmil Reyes, and Eddie Rosario remaining in the 3-5 spots is something I agree with, as they have been the most productive hitters on the team thus far and shall continue to do so. Josh Naylor is showing incremental improvements from an offensive standpoint as he accrues more plate appearances, leading the team in doubles thus far and frequently making hard contact to all fields.

Ultimately, despite the struggles the 2021 Cleveland Indians lineup has had so far this season there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic going forward. The team frequently makes effective contact, avoids strikeouts, and draws walks, which are sustainable methods for success in the batter’s box. Combine this with a bit of bad luck and you have a lineup that should be pretty good.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Pat Ellington Jr. is a black filmmaker, screenwriter, novelist, and sports journalist from Northeast Ohio.