Second Thoughts: Ranking the madness
A few days ago, Grantland's Andrew Sharp put out a wonderful article that recapped this year's NBA Draft, which was perhaps one of the most ridiculous drafts in the history of any sport.
He chronicled the event using a 1-10 scale, in an "ascending curve of crazy." I loved the concept, and in the spirit of the Indians' wild ride of a season thus far, I thought I would apply it to such on this off-day edition of Second Thoughts (except 1-8 instead).
And so, we start with more "predictable" aspects of the first half of the season, getting less and less sensible along the way.
1. I'm going to start this out on a highly negative note. Brett Myers being an awful signing? Too easy. Sure, injuries are completely unpredictable, but lest we forget just how abysmal he was in those three starts and one extended relief appearance. 29 hits (10 home runs) and 19 runs in 21.1 innings. Wins above replacement is a counting stat, and he still ranks as one of the least valuable pitchers in all of baseball (-0.6). It is rather difficult to be that unproductive in such a short period of time. He is due to return soon, but it will be as a part-time arm. $7 million for those four miserable games (all Indians losses, for what it's worth) and half a season of who knows what kind of relief work... brutal. But really, when he was expected to be the team's number three starter at that figure, who imagined that it would turn out as anything other than a poor investment?
2. Now that that's out of the way, we head to the complete opposite end of the spectrum, with perhaps the most positive entry. Jason Kipnis was a second-round pick. Jason Kipnis was, at one point, a top-50ish prospect in all of baseball. Jason Kipnis drove in 76 runs and stole 31 bases in his first full Major League season. While his recent month of June was certainly a case of him playing over his head (.419/.517/.699, four home runs, 26 runs batted in and nine stolen bases), the overall production so far in 2013 (.299/.384/.533), 12, 51 and 19) and full-season projections (24, 101 and 38) aren't really unrealistic. Jason Kipnis is turning into something of a star right now.
3. Nick Swisher has said "bro" a lot. Like, A LOT. There's even a punny slogan shirt. Less shocking things have happened.
4. Perhaps this one should rank higher. Yan Gomes was a perceived throw-in in the deal that landed the organization Mike Aviles. Mildly intriguing, yet wholly unproven and not really a prospect anymore at age 25. If he ever made the big league club, whatever contributions from him would be strictly offensive, as his defense is not Major League caliber. Well, he got his chance, never looked back, and has proven many people wrong along the way. He has shown off the raw power (six home runs in 35 games, .526 slugging percentage), and it is lovely. But his defense is the real eye-opener. Outperforming Carlos Santana behind the plate isn't too much of an indication of a good catcher (and he has, throwing out an elite 52.8% of would-be base stealers to Santana's horrifying 13.5, while posting a similar catcher earned run average), he has certainly passed the eye test, as well. And frankly, he needs to be back there more often.
5. Eight months ago, Jason Giambi was realistically almost the Rockies' manager, or at least their hitting coach if he wanted to be. He opted to push on as a player instead of taking the assistant position. When the Indians presented the opportunity, little was expected of him (on the field, at least). As it stands, he has gotten on base (16 walks) and driven the ball (six doubles, six home runs and 21 runs batted in) when called upon (just 36 games). In a number of key spots, too. And I would be remiss not to mention his impact off the field, that of which is unquantifiable, yet rather easy to see almost anytime he is shown in the dugout.
6. Ubaldo Jimenez was nearly left for dead as a Cleveland Indian. After a season and a half of wildly disappointing results, there was really no reason to expect anything other. His option was picked up, almost just because it probably had to be. Enter Mickey Callaway, a 38-year-old pitching coach with little experience. He helped Jimenez rediscover his mechanics and refine his repertoire, and taught him how to be a pitcher instead of a thrower. Jimenez is not the pitcher the Indians thought they were trading for, but he has still been a huge revelation, given how hopeless he looked before this season.
7. With a win in Sunday's game, the Indians managed to complete their third four-game sweep of the season. No other team has done it three times yet. No other team has done it two times yet. Believe it or not, only 10 other teams have done it once so far. I recognize that it is an obscure statistic, but that sure puts them largely ahead of the field in it. Winning four games of a four in a series is clearly not suppose to be simple, yet here we are.
8. Lost 10 of 15. Won 21 of 28. Lost 16 of 20. Won 14 of 19. Yeah.