CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Overshadowed a bit by Josh Tomlin’s home run struggles on Saturday, Lonnie Chisenhall continues to be a steady offensive force for Cleveland in 2016.
Then again, flying under the radar isn’t anything new for the outfielder this season.
Chisenhall clubbed a game-tying three-run homer in the fourth inning of Saturday’s 6-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, smacking a no-doubter to right-center off talented hurler Aaron Sanchez.
The left-handed hitter has thrived against right-handed pitching this season, a near-platoon role that he’s grown into and seems to be blossoming in.
Maybe it’s not what many envisioned when he came up as one of the organization’s top prospects several seasons ago, but there is still a great deal of value in what he has provided.
Chisenhall has been near the .300 mark all season. He is striking out at a career-low rate. And he currently creating runs at a 15 percent clip above league average.
What’s been the key for the 27-year-old outfielder? Staying even keel, for starters.
“Not putting too much thought into a good day or a bad day,” Chisenhall said. “So, 0-for-4 with four K’s, you understand what happened and try to be positive and move on to the next day and not let bad things carry over and let the good things get in the way.”
That mentality has worked well for him, slashing .298/.342/.472 this season in 324 plate appearances. He owns a .824 OPS vs. right-handed pitching.
His three-run blast on Saturday was his eighth round-tripper of the campaign and came on the 10th pitch of a long at-bat.
“Being able to see that many pitches in a row, I was able to calm down,” Chisenhall said. “It was a good swing. It was nice to come back right there and answer back after they put up a few runs and put us in a good spot.”
While players like Jose Ramirez and Tyler Naquin have received a lot of attention for their performance this season — granted, they’ve earned every bit of it — Chisenhall’s production has flown under the radar a bit.
But make no mistake, without the left-handed hitter’s steady numbers, there’s little chance Cleveland would have survived in 2016 without the services of outfielder Michael Brantley.
“He’s kind of slotted into that six hole and given us a lot of production,” manager Terry Francona said. “For his number of at-bats, I think he’s sitting at 300 at-bats and he has like 50 RBIs and he plays such good defense. It’s really helped us.”
And it’s the contributions of a player like Chisenhall which has pushed Cleveland into the upper echelon of offensive team production this season, giving the first-place Indians a growing confidence that they’re never out of any ballgame.
“You don’t want to roll over, especially when you’re trying to pick up games or extend a lead or just make your organization proud,” Chisenhall said. “You go out there and you fight until the ninth. And then come back and get them tomorrow.”