After last night’s improbable victory against the Seattle Mariners, the Indians now find themselves with a 5-4 record. After scoring only 14 runs in the first four games, and first 45 offensive innings, of the season—that’s 2.8 runs per nine innings—the Tribe has scored 47 runs in their last five games, over 46 innings, which comes to 9.2 runs per nine innings.
As of today, the Indians have scored more runs than any team in the majors, with the exception of the Texas Rangers, who have played 11 games as opposed to 9 for the Indians. What accounts for this great run production?
While this is by no means an exhaustive look at the the statistics, two things do stick out: so far, the Indians have been getting a lot of bases on balls, and they haven’t been striking out nearly as often as they did in 2011.
Indians batters have been issued 49 walks, or 4.85 per 9 innings. Last year’s club recorded 3.05 walks per game (I didn’t have stats per nine innings, but over the course of an entire 162-game season, the offensive stats per nine innings aren’t going to be all that different from the stats per game). Two more baserunners per game via the free pass may not seem like very many, but it goes without saying that the more men who get on base, the more runs you are going to score. And of course a base on balls means that the opposing pitcher has thrown at least four pitches, probably at least five, without recording an out.
Indians hitters have struck out only 67 times this season, which translates to 6.63 whiffs per nine innings. The 2011 club struck out 7.83 times per game. Fewer strikeouts and more bases on balls means that so far, the 2012 Indians are showing better discipline at the plate than the 2011 edition did. Better plate discipline means waiting for good pitches to try to hit, not just flailing away at whatever is thrown your way.
Oh, and let’s not forget the home runs. The Indians have homered in each of their games this season. I like this statistic, if only because if you homer in every game, you can’t ever get shut out! Obviously I’m being facetious to some degree. Nobody thinks the Indians will go all season without a homerless game, or without being shut out. But there is a little truth to it as well.
Obviously it’s early yet, and the Cleveland Indians aren’t exactly known for their consistency. But if this trend continues, the Tribe could wind up scoring a lot of runs this season. And teams that score a lot of runs win a lot of games.