For the second straight October, the Indians offense shriveled up when it mattered most. The offensive struggles were more obvious this year due to issues with the pitching staff, but many of the Indians key hitters struggled in 2016 as well.
Most of this is just bad luck. Over the past two years the Tribe has played 20 postseason games—an incredibly small sample size in which literally anything is possible. But it doesn’t change the fact that the struggles happened.
Because of the sample size, I’m not interested in dissecting why this happened. I just don’t think there’s any way to know if the results are meaningful. If they make the playoffs against in 2018, I’m still willing to bet the hitters will perform at the level they’ve shown over hundreds of regular season games, rather than their 20-game postseason history.
But, if you’ve gotten over the loss already, it is sort of fun to look back and see just how terrible the offense has been in October.
To drive home the point, I took at look at the Indians best hitters from the past two seasons (only guys who played both years) and found other recent players whose stats most closely match the postseason performance of the current Indians.
Jason Kipnis is Alvaro Espinoza
It was hard to nail down a comparison for Kipnis because his stats are strange and really only possible in small sample size where a couple home runs can inflate the slugging percentage to nearly double his on-base percentage. But he does roughly compare to Alvaro Espinoza, the Indians utility man of the early-to-mid 1990s.
Like Espinzoa, Kipnis hasn’t been able to get on base with any regularity, but does have a few extra-base hits to boost the power numbers. Espinoza didn’t have Kipnis’ power, but he did generate doubles at a respectable rate.
Francisco Lindor is Ben Broussard
This comparison works almost too perfectly, especially considering both players’ flare for dramatic home runs.
Broussard hit four grand slams with the Tribe, including two as a pinch hitter. And much like Lindor’s postseason, if not for the grand slam, there wouldn’t be much to say about his Indians career. Lindor’s grand slam covered up an otherwise terrible postseason.
Carlos Santana is Mark Reynolds
The stats match up perfectly in this comparison. In October, Santana’s on-base percentage has plummeted, which is the only thing that separates him from Mark Reynolds.
If Santana isn’t getting on base at around a .350 clip or higher, he becomes a very replaceable player in the lineup, which is exactly what he’s been in October.
Jose Ramirez is Felix Fermin
This is the most depressing comparison, because Ramirez has been so consistent during the regular season.
Felix Fermin was a flat-out terrible offensive shortstop for the Tribe, scattering a few singles here and there and rarely drawing a walk. You can tolerate a player like this in the lineup if his defense is exceptional, but both Fermin and Ramirez are essentially league-average fielders.