Smoke Signals: Tribe’s Patience and Tomlin’s Location

For most, the Indians’ offense has been frustrating early on in the season, including the players themselves.

It is only April, something that you should get used to hearing if you have not reached that point already, and there is nothing to read into any perceived failure to this point.

Before fans get annoyed by any stalling-out of the Indians bats, consider what they are going through. The defending AL Champs are currently the most patient team at the plate in all of baseball.

Imagine that.

Ty Van Burkleo has his guys swinging at the fewest pitches out of the strike zone in the league with a 22.8 O-Swing%, while pouncing on the seventh-most strikes with a 68.5 Z-Swing%.

For comparison, the 2.4% difference between the Tribe and the second-place Yankees is almost what separates New York and sixth-place Seattle.

They also make have a Contact% (swings with contact divided by total swings) of 80.3%, the third-highest in the league. Their 8.6% swinging-strike percentage is also good enough for third in baseball.

The Indians were fourth in the league heading into Tuesday fourth in baseball with 51 walks.

On Tuesday, a 11-4 win that was the second-most runs the team has scored all season, the Indians had just 10 swinging strikes on 159 pitches.

Adding to the confusion of Tribe hitters headed into Tuesday night, the team was third in baseball in hard-hit balls at 37.3% of balls put in play, as well as the third least soft-hit balls at 14.5%.

All of these measurements are in the Indians’ favor, advanced statistics or numbers used since the sport’s inception, yet the Tribe are 14th in baseball in both hits and runs.

What can you read into these numbers in April? There is no reason to panic.

The Indians hit good pitches, and they hit them hard. They spit on bad pitches, and enough of them to walk at a high rate.

Soon enough, like Tuesday night, the ball will fall where they ain’t.

Cowboy command

After two dreadful starts for Josh Tomlin to start the season, the first inning looked like it would be more of the same in start number three.

After a rough first inning where Tomlin allowed two of the three Twins runs on three of the seven hits he allowed, the righty settled in, allowing just one run over his next five innings.

Tomlin reclaimed control of his pitches, working mostly down in the zone, where the fly-ball pitcher will have the most success.

chart 13 Smoke Signals: Tribes Patience and Tomlins Location chart Smoke Signals: Tribes Patience and Tomlins Location

Notice where the majority of Tomlin’s outs were made. Also notice there were no home runs from Minnesota.

Tomlin grabbed five swinging strikes on Tuesday, three of them on his cutter, while his changeup drew nine called strikes. He did not allow a hard-hit ball (105+ mph exit velocity) on any pitch other than his four-seam fastball, of which he only threw seven.

More from Alex Hooper | 92.3 The Fan
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