It’s been a busy couple weeks, so we’ve fallen behind with Tribe-o-Metrics, but we’re back with the best and most obscure collection of Indians-related nuggets on the internet. If you missed the first installment, check it out here.
Old Man Damon
Johnny Damon made his Indians debut this past week and stepped right into the leadoff spot. In doing so, he became the Indians oldest leadoff hitter since Mark Grudzielanek (39 years old) in 2010. Dating back to 1918 (as far back the baseball-reference play index goes) only three others (Kenny Lofton, Mickey Vernon and Sam Rice) have hit leadoff at an older age than Damon. Rice, at age 44 in 1934, holds the distinction of being the oldest.
Defense wins championships
In each of the past three games, Aaron Cunningham has been a late-inning defensive replacement in left field (twice for Damon, once for Shelley Duncan). Defensive replacements are no rarity, but replacing players with such frequency is fairly uncommon, if for no other reason than you need the right situation to present itself in consecutive games (in other words, you need three consecutive close games). Cunningham is the first Indians outfielder to be used as a defensive replacement in three consecutive games since Jolbert Cabrera replaced Matt Lawton in three straight games in 2002.
Gomez snaps streak
Jeanmar Gomez completed seven strong innings against the Rangers on Friday night, his longest outing since his major-league debut in 2010. In between, Gomez made 23 starts, failing to complete seven innings in any of them. His streak tied Roberto Hernandez for the longest such streak in franchise history.
Jack Hannahan continues to crush the ball in clutch situations. With runners in scoring position, Hannahan is batting an even .500, the second highest average in the majors, trailing only perennial All-Star Evan Longoria. And with runners in scoring position and two outs – the ultimate clutch situation – Hannahan is batting a remarkable .615 (8-13) with a .722 on-base percentage. According to Baseball Prospectus, Hannahan has driven in 23.7 percent of the runners on base when he comes to the plate. In 2011, Ryan Braun led the majors with a 21.2 RBI percentage.
No love for the glove?
We’re still dealing with a small sample size, but so far Casey Kotchman‘s glove hasn’t shown up, at least statistically speaking. According to Fan Graphs, Kotchman has been credited with zero defensive runs saved and has an Ultimate Zone Rating of -1.9. Only the Mets’ Ike Davis has posted a lower UZR among qualifying first basemen. While Kotchman has a reputation for bringing a solid glove to the field, this is shaping up to be his third consecutive mediocre year in the field. Since the start of the 2010 season, Kotchman has been credited with just six defensive runs saved in over 2,000 innings in the field. For the sake of comparison, Albert Pujols has already been credited with four defensive runs saved in just over 200 innings this season.
We are all Kipnises
Jason Kipnis has more than lived up to expectations this season. Through 24 games, Kipnis has driven in 17 runs, just two shy of his total from 2011. Since 1918, only three Indians second basemen have driven in more runs through the Tribe’s first 25 games (and Kipnis still has one game to go): Joe Gordon (23 in 1948), Woodie Held (19 in 1963) and Carlos Baerga (18 in 1996).