As we do every month during the season, Burning River Baseball brings you the August Player Power Rankings. These rankings are exclusively based on actual production during the season, not potential, and include the entire 25 man roster. After each name is a comparison of how they did in the month compared to their expectations of either Above, Even or Below followed by their movement from the previous rankings.
1. Corey Kluber – Above – 0
At some point we’re going to have to come up with a bunch of nicknames that correctly acknowledge Kluber’s greatness. The King of K, the Sultan of Swings & Misses, the Feudal Lord of FIP. In any event, he’s easily the favorite for the 2017 Cy Young now with a 2.63 ERA and 215 K’s in 160.2 innings.
2. Carlos Carrasco – Below – ↑1
Carrasco’s final start of August was a dominant 7 inning shut out of the Royals that helped solidify the Indians place in the division, but that and an eight inning shut out of Tampa Bay couldn’t outweigh three dreadful starts where he allowed a combined 21 runs over 14 innings.
There’s no question that Carrasco is still the Indians second best starter, but there is a little to worry about. He’s already well beyond his innings total from his injury shortened 2016 season and on pace to surpass his career high in innings while he’s already surpassed his career high in hit batters, wild pitches and will set a new high in walks soon. His FIP of 3.41 is better than last year, but nearly a run worse than his breakout year in 2014.
3. Jose Ramirez – Below – ↓1
Despite the Indians offensive success, Ramirez was largely absent from the fun during August, batting .133/.212/.217 from the 5th through the 23rd. Having seen Ramirez play over the last two seasons, however, we knew that wouldn’t last and over the last week he hit .379/.400/.724 with two home runs and four doubles. With 43 doubles and 20 home runs on the season, Ramirez is threatening to have one of the best extra base years in Indians history.
4. Francisco Lindor – Above – 0
Lindor brought a surprising amount of power and speed to his normal excellent defense in August, slugging nine home runs (out of 25 for the season) and stealing five bases to just one time caught (11 of 13 on the year).
5. Edwin Encarnacion – Even – ↑3
Encarnacion blew by 30 home runs this month with 10 more long balls to lead the team while leading the team in RBI (18), walks (22) and slugging percent (.560) as well. There’s no question that adding Bruce extended the depth of the Indians line-up, but it’s Encarnacion that really makes this line-up dangerous.
6. Carlos Santana – Above – ↑6
The Indians offense really started to pick things up in August and Santana’s seven home runs had a lot to do with it. He also walked 17 times and now ranks third in the AL with 73, behind his teammate Encarnacion (89).
7. Mike Clevinger – Even – ↓1
While he struggled in one relief appearance, Clevinger pitched two scoreless games, going seven innings against Tampa, then six against KC. In both he struck out nine and he continues to threaten a no hitter every time out. He also has a tendency to walk an astronomical amount of batters with 50 this year in 94.1 innings.
8. Trevor Bauer – Above – ↑9
Bauer’s season numbers look nearly identical to those of his last three seasons which places him as a solid #4 starter, but nothing more. This month he was significantly more. In four of six August starts, he went at least six innings and allowed one or fewer runs (as well as going eight innings and allowing one run in his final July start). This has lowered his ERA from 5.58 on July 21st to 4.46 to end August.
9. Cody Allen – Even – ↑1
Arbitrary distinctions, like monthly power rankings, have inherent problems simply by being arbitrary. As a whole, Allen’s August looks lackluster, but all his runs allowed, both his blown saves and his loss came in two of the first three appearances of the month. Since then, he’s pitched 9 one hit innings, striking out 13 and walking two. So, while his month wasn’t great, he’s on quite the hot streak at the moment.
10. Bradley Zimmer – Below – ↓1
As discussed earlier this week, the Indians have some odd platoon situations right now and in both cases (Zimmer/Jackson and Diaz/Urshela) the players in the platoon could be considered near equals. In this particular case, Zimmer has been considerably better defensively and on the bases, so he gets a slight edge over Jackson’s superior offensive performance.
11. Austin Jackson – Above – ↑2
It was another solid month for Jackson, who has been so good after a lost 2016 season that one has to start wondering if the Indians front office is lucky (Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis, Otero, Goody, etc) or if they’ve got some kind of formula for snatching up players who others have given up on. Since April 22nd, he’s hit .326/.384/.519 with 21 extra base hits.
12. Zach McAllister – Below – ↑2
Through July 31st, McAllister allowed 11 runs in 47 innings with the runs coming in six appearances. Since then, he’s allowed 7 runs in 7.2 innings coming across five different appearances. With an FIP currently above 4.00, this could seem a return to the norm, but with an average allowed .120 above his first half numbers, and his OBP .100 higher and slugging .300 higher, this seems more an extreme aberration than regression.
13. Bryan Shaw – Even – ↓2
Like Allen, Shaw had a couple rough appearances to start the month before posting a 1.59 ERA and striking out 15 in 11.1 innings from August 6th on. He earned 5 holds including one in the game where he allowed three runs in a third of an inning against Boston in a game the Indians ended up losing.
14. Nick Goody – Below – ↑1
Like many others in the pen (Shaw, Allen, McAllister…) Goody had a couple rough appearances that ruined his month statistically. He allowed three against Tampa and two against Boston in his final appearance of the month, but none in his other four appearances, allowing just one hit and one walk in those four innings.
15. Yan Gomes – Even – ↑6
Showing how awful RBI are at evaluating performance, Gomes lead the team with 18 despite batting .206/.265/.413. He did hit a few big home runs, but was vastly outplayed by Perez offensively and defensively. As talk about Francisco Mejia intensifies, it’s easier to see a future of Perez/Mejia than Gomes/anybody.
16. Jay Bruce – Above – Unranked
Talk about flying up the rankings, Bruce has spend only a couple weeks with the team and has cemented himself as a middle of the line-up power hitter. He has been exactly what the Indians needed as both Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall have missed extended time. Once/if they return, he will only strengthen the offense and provide depth at a position that was a huge weakness for most of the season.
17. Dan Otero – Above – ↑3
Not officially on roster on August 31
Otero only pitched 10.1 innings this month, but it was his best of the year as he allowed just one run and struck out 8 without a walk. As the Indians bullpen is likely to expand in September, Otero will likely see his playing time cut more than most, but he’s still on the fringe list of pitchers worthy of a spot in the post-season bullpen.
18. Ryan Merritt – Above – UR
Merritt was added to the roster to start the final game of the month when Otero went on the paternity list. In that game and his two other spot starts in August, Merritt was dominant. In fact, he now has a 0.59 career ERA in 31.2 innings. By calling him up for Otero, the Indians were able to avoid the 10 day minimum minor league stay and he will likely stay with the team for the rest of the season.
19. Tyler Olson – Above – UR
Added to the roster just prior to the beginning of August, Olson has been incredible during Andrew Miller‘s absence. While not allowing a run across 10.1 innings (16 appearances) he has struck out 13 and walked just three. In his nominal role against lefties he has allowed a .174 average and his 0.71 WHIP is even better than Miller. Once Miller returns, Olson should fill the former role of Boone Logan quite nicely through September and the postseason.
20. Roberto Perez – Above – ↑4
Just when you think a guy might be a lost cause, he goes and hits two home runs and knocks in 10 runs in 12 games. This is now the second season in a row that Perez finally showed some signs of life late in the year after a completely terrible season and if he can continue playing at this rate, maybe the Indians catcher spot in the line-up won’t be an automatic out anymore.
21. Brandon Guyer – Even – ↑1
Guyer went on the DL hitting .182/.237/.291, then came back on June 26th and has hit .269/.378/.355 since. He still hasn’t shown the kind of power that the Indians expect and his OPS vs lefties this year ranks behind fellow outfielders Chisenhall, Jackson, Diaz and Brantley and he doesn’t provide the defense or baserunning of Zimmer. With another switch hitter in Greg Allen coming up for September, there’s not much room for Guyer if he can’t hit for power.
22. Erik Gonzalez – Even – ↓4
Gonzalez was up for just the final week of the month and hit a double for his only base hit. Since he’s here exclusively as a utility infielder, any offense is a bonus and he’s been slightly better than expected for the year.
23. Giovany Urshela – Even – ↑2
In the second offense/defense platoon, the defensive side gets the edge again. Urshela has put up unbelievable advanced defensive numbers and equally unbelievable highlights. While he provides little to no offense, Diaz hasn’t been particularly better.
24. Yandy Diaz – Above – UR
Diaz was a late month addition and really turned things up for the final series of the month in New York. Overall, he hit .400 in seven games and walked eight times for a .571 OBP. He also hit four extra base hits after hitting just one during his first 18 games. It’s very possible after his recent extended AAA stay that he’s finally ready to be the player we’ve all expected.
25. Joe Smith – Even – UR
Smith has pitched fine during his first month back with Cleveland, but he’s only pitched 10.1 innings. Had he been with the team the entire season, he’d probably be in the middle of the rankings, but it’s hard enough for a reliever to stand out when they have a full season with a team.
26. Craig Breslow – Even – UR
An extremely late call-up to bolster the bullpen and essentially announce that the Indians are done with Kyle Crockett, Breslow threw two innings, struck out two and didn’t allow a run. His innings will likely be even more limited as the bullpen grows in September.
No Longer With Us
Shawn Armstrong – Below