As we do every month during the season, Burning River Baseball brings you the July Player Power Rankings. These rankings are exclusively based on actual production during the month, not potential, and include the entire 25 man roster. After each name is a comparison of how they did compared to their expectations of either Above, Even or Below followed by their movement from the previous rankings.
1. Corey Kluber – Above – ↑1
Kluber has been simply dominant since returning from the DL and, while he likely won’t win his second AL Pitcher of the Month (that should go to James Paxton of Seattle), he was essentially the second best. In July, Kluber struck out 56 in 34.1 innings and is now third in the AL in K’s despite missing a month on the DL. If he keeps this up, the AL Cy Young looks like a two man race between Kluber and Chris Sale.
2. Jose Ramirez – Above – ↓1
Ramirez is great, easily the best hitter on the team and a solid defender as well, but the fact is that Kluber is a top two pitcher in the AL. With Kipnis out, Ramirez has played significantly at his preferred second base and has hit six home runs and seven doubles to lead the team in homers and extra base hits. He did this while walking the same amount that he struck out and batting .317.
3. Carlos Carrasco – Even – 0
There’s no question that Carrasco has been great this year, leading the Tribe in innings and starts and second in fWAR, but Kluber has been a level above as the staff ace. In July he was incredibly consistent, allowing at least one run in each game, but two or fewer in four of five starts, leading to a 3.31 ERA for the month and a 3.58 ERA for the season (3.60 FIP).
4. Francisco Lindor – Above – 0
Lindor went through his first prolonged slump of his career that spanned all of June and half of July, however, starting with a 4/4 on July 16th against Oakland, he batted .404/.469/.579 for the rest of the month. He had been striking out at an alarming rate, but that has come back to normal with a change in approach at the plate.
5. Andrew Miller – Above – ↑1
Hey guys, Miller is a really good pitcher. Despite only throwing 50 innings, he’s third on the Indians in pitcher fWAR thanks to a 12.99 K/9 and 1.52 ERA. In July, however, he was awful with a 1.50 because he allowed a home run. Oh, my!
6. Michael Brantley – Even – ↑4
As was generally thought prior to the start of the season, if Brantley could stay healthy, he’d be like adding another MVP candidate to the line-up. So far, so good on both fronts as he put together another solid month offensively including three home runs after not hitting one from May through June. He was even decent defensively, making a couple amazing plays and ending up only slightly below average for the month.
7. Edwin Encarnacion – Even – ↑1
The parrot had another powerful month for the Tribe, hitting five more home runs and impressively walking more than he struck out. He leads the team with 21 home runs on the season and as such has joined Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera, Nick Swisher, Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Mike Napoli and Yan Gomes as the only Indians who have hit 20 or more since 2011.
8. Mike Clevinger – Above – ↑3
Clevinger ended the month with, by far, his worst two starts of the season. That can’t take away from what he has already accomplished through the first half, however, and until Salazar gets a few more innings in at his current performance level, Clevinger will remain listed as the Tribe’s third best starter this season.
9. Bradley Zimmer – Even – 0
Zimmer cooled off a bit offensively, but has seen his greatest value come with his glove (and legs) as he already leads the team in defensive runs saved and has single handedly improved the Indians from a below average team defensively to one slightly above. He also already ranks second on the team in base running value behind only Brantley despite just 60 games played.
10. Cody Allen – Above – ↓3
While he didn’t rack up many saves, Allen had a great July with a 2.31 ERA and a 2.38 FIP to back it up. His 2.74 season ERA sits behind only Miller, and his 11.8 K/9 is better than all but Kluber, Miller and Salazar.
11. Bryan Shaw – Even – ↑1
Shaw has been a terrific pitcher for the Indians since coming from Arizona, but he’s always had a penchant for letting things get really out of hand when they get out of hand. Incredibly, he hadn’t this season until July 1st when he let three runs score and took his third loss of the season. After that, he was back to normal, allowing one run over his next 7.1 innings. He didn’t walk a batter after his 1st appearance in the month and had three perfect appearances in his last seven.
12. Carlos Santana – Above – ↑1
Santana has had a great month and a half overall, raising his batting line from .211/.307/.382 on June 15th to .246/.347/.431 to end July, but that pales compared to the fire he set from July 19th through July 29th, going .359/.457/.718 with two doubles and four home runs in ten games.
13. Austin Jackson – Above – UR
Back from his second extended DL appearance of the season, Jackson didn’t slow down a step and hit over .450 in July with four walks and five doubles in eight games. With Zimmer starting full time in center and Guyer healthy, there appears to be a reduced role for Jackson, but if he keeps hitting, Francona will have to find a way to keep him on the roster and in the lineup.
14. Zach McAllister – Above – ↑1
McAllister may have taken an extended vacation during the All-Star break as he didn’t pitch for two weeks, but despite this, he was dominant in July. He struck out 13 in 12.2 innings, allowing just one earned run on a solo home run. He walked just two to limit base runners and should be considered a late inning option instead of a mop up man, but we’ve been saying that for a long time.
15. Nick Goody – Even – 0
Goody is a prime example of Terry Francona‘s bullpen misuse as the righty who has been great in multiple inning appearances all season threw just 8.2 innings in July. He gave up a couple runs, destroying his ERA for the month, but his peripheral stats still show that he’s a solid choice.
16. Danny Salazar – Above – UR
It was quite the return to the rotation for Salazar, who may be completely healthy for the first time since last year’s All-Star break. In two starts in July, he allowed just two runs on four hits, striking out 16 to just two walks. Control was a major issue early in the season and if these are any indication, it no longer is.
17. Trevor Bauer – Below – 0
Bauer only made four starts in July and one of those lasted less than an inning as he had his worst month this season. This couldn’t have happened at a worse time for him as the Indians were already on the lookout for a new starter, but had yet to decide who would be the best to replace. He redeemed himself slightly with a great final start, allowing just one run in 8 innings, but still sits as the Indians fifth starter, ahead of only Tomlin.
16. Erik Gonzalez – Even – ↑1
Playing nearly everyday with Jason Kipnis on the DL has suited Gonzalez and he had the best month of his young career in July. He hit .268 and slugged .368 thanks to four doubles. Somehow, he didn’t take a walk all month (Urshela, the other Kipnis replacement who is famous for not walking took five) and was a less than ideal base runner considering his use as the Tribe’s primary pinch runner.
19. Josh Tomlin – Above –↑5
Not officially on 25 man roster, but was the entire month so is included anyway. Just when it seemed Tomlin had seen his last days as a usable starter, he rattled off three straight like his old self (pitched at least 6 innings and allowed three or fewer runs against San Diego, San Francisco and Cincinnati) before twirling a masterpiece with four no hit innings against the White Sox. Unfortunately, Tomlin was injured and had to leave his no hitter early with his future status in doubt. Fortunately, the Indians already had a six man rotation and can withstand the hit.
20. Dan Otero – Below – ↓2
Otero pitched only 9.1 innings in July and that may have been too much. He has a reasonable ERA for the season, but his FIP gives some caution and his results were less than desirable in July. He still has value to the team as a long man to save the bullpen by coming into the game when someone gets knocked out early, but that has happened very rarely of late and with five healthy starters, should be happening even less often.
21. Yan Gomes – Even – 0
Gomes was slightly above a replacement level catcher in July (0.5 fWAR) and as such, a huge improvement over anyone the Indians have had at the position in about three years. The good news is that he did this without tremendous luck (.286 BABIP & 13.3% HR/FB) and with decent contact, so there’s a chance this trend could continue.
22. Brandon Guyer – Below – 0
After being almost unstoppable against left handed pitching in the second half of 2016 (and for years before that for the Rays), 2017 appears to be a lost season for Guyer. He was signed to an extension pre-season that guarantees him $3M after this season with an option for 2019, so he’s not going anywhere, but it’s certainly hard to play him now given his struggles against pitchers of either side. In a small sign of life, he had three hits in four games from July 18th through 23rd, also known as one games worth for Ramirez.
23. Shawn Armstrong – Above – ↑2
Armstrong only threw a few innings in July, but looked good and should get an extended shot, especially seeing as how Shaw will need to be replaced in 2018 and relievers are getting more expensive every day. However, with the trade for Joe Smith, Armstrong is almost certain to be sent back to AAA immediately.
24. Roberto Perez – Below – ↓1
It was another rough month for Perez, hitting .200 with an OBP below .300. He provides great value defensively still, but as Gomes heats up, the Indians are looking smarter and smarter for keeping Perez as the back-up from the start of the season.
25. Giovany Urshela – Even – UR
He is what we thought he was. Urshela has been incredible defensively, worth 2.5 runs over the average third baseman in just a month of part time play, but he removes almost all his value by his negative offensive performance. There is a place for Urshela in the Major Leagues, but it isn’t as the Indians starting third baseman.
Tyler Olson – Even