Way back in 2008, the Cleveland Indians selected Lonnie Chisenhall in the first round of the MLB draft (29th overall).
In 2011, the Chiz Kid arrived in the majors, posting a .699 OPS in 223 plate appearances, demonstrating a decent bat with room to grow.
In 2012, Lonnie only had 151 plate appearances, but showed some serious growth as a hitter, posting a .741 OPS and a 105 OPS+, and leading many to think he would be a mainstay in the Indians lineup for years to come.
Then, 2013 happened. Lonnie struggled mightily, limping to a .225 batting average and .668 OPS in limited action in the bigs. He tore up AAA, however, and many fans lamented another Indians prospect turned “AAAA All-Star,” someone who was too good for AAA, but not good enough for the majors.
Now, in 2014, Lonnie is making us all believe again.
Seeing limited action to start the season, the Chiz Kid has worked his way into the every day lineup by putting up solid at bats game-in and game-out, and demonstrating a willingness to take the ball the other way. For the first couple months of this season, it was easy to dismiss Chisenhall’s good start to the season by pointing to his abnormally high BABIP (.419 going into Monday night’s game) and referencing the mythical “small sample size.” Eventually, we all thought, the bloop hits would stop falling in and the strikeouts would start to mount and all the good vibes from April and May would be long forgotten.
But a strange thing has happened — Chisenhall forgot to stop hitting. A career .248 hitter against LHP (.111 in 2013), Lonnie is hitting .520 against lefties this season. Yes, he’s only had 28 plate appearances against lefties, but he’s already racked up 13 hits. In 38 plate appearances against lefties last season, Chisenhall had four hits.
Those two months of constant hitting seemed to be building to Monday night’s game against the Rangers, in a game we all might remember as the night Lonnie Chisenhall arrived.
What did Lonnie do Monday night?
Oh, you know… he just put up this line: 5 AB, 5 H, 3 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI
Yes, that 9 RBI is tied for the team record for RBIs in a single game.
The Indians as a team, however, could not be stopped on this night. TJ House started this game, and was ineffective, but his contributions are a footnote on a Indians offensive eruption that saw the Tribe score 17 runs. Aside from Chisenhall, a number of Indians had themselves a great night at the plate:
Michael Brantley: 3-3, 2 BB, 5 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Asdrubal Cabrera: 3-5, 3 R
Jason Kipnis: 3-5, 3 R, 4 RBI
George Kottaras: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
The Indians entered Monday night’s game with a run differential of -9 on the season, and leave Texas back in the positive at +1 overall.
Meanwhile, the Tigers dropped the first game of their series with the White Sox, and the Indians somehow find themselves a mere two games back in the Central. Following the White Sox sweep of the Indians just a couple weekends ago, no one could have predicted this surge out of the Tribe, who now head to Kansas City for a quick two game series against the Royals.
This team seemed dead in the water two weeks ago, but now they are very much in the thick of the AL Central race. If they can keep this run going through the present road trip, this summer will certainly look to be very exciting.
What a night, what a game by Chisenhall.