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The 2014 IBI Awards: Least Valuable Hitter

Swisher edges Raburn as the pair run away with the voting

The 2014 IBI Awards: Least Valuable Hitter
Nick Swisher (Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images North America)
October 8, 2014
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Welcome to the third annual edition of the IBI Awards!

At the end of every year, we here at IBI vote on various categories relating to Cleveland baseball as we continue looking back on 2014 ahead of our 2015 offseason coverage.

Today is the third installment of the IBI Awards, the Least Valuable Hitter.

Previous awards for this season include:

Unlike in the voting for Most Valuable Hitter and Most Valuable Pitcher, the vote was not unanimous. But while multiple players got votes for the top (bottom?) spot, one name rose above the rest.

Rank Name Points
1 Nick Swisher 56
2 Ryan Raburn 43
3 Jason Kipnis 28
4 Michael Bourn 9
5 Asdrubal Cabrera 8
6 David Murphy 7
T-7 Mike Aviles 6
T-7 Jason Giambi 6
9 J.B. Shuck 3
10 Chris Gimenez 2
T-11 Lonnie Chisenhall 1
T-11 Everyone else not on the Most Valuable Hitter List 1

While I put Raburn in my top spot, I have no problem with Swisher winning. I personally did not take money into account, but given Swisher and Raburn put up similarly bad numbers in 2014, it hurts a little worse coming from Swisher while he is making $15 million than from Raburn while he is making $2.25 million.

So while Swisher’s contract hurts, I went with Raburn, who put up equally bad numbers as Swisher in half of the playing time. But I was in the minority.

Here is what the rest of IBI had to say:

Tony Lastoria:

  1. Swisher
  2. Raburn
  3. Kipnis
  4. Bourn
  5. Aviles

For me at least, these awards have been a slam dunk as Swisher no doubt had the worst performance of any Indians hitter. He had a team worst 74 OPS+ among regulars and -1.7 WAR,  which was the second worst in all of baseball this season. Considering the Indians paid him $15 million this season it’s easy to say that was money the Indians were better off just setting on fire and watching burn because that is essentially what he did this season with his performance. Raburn only had 212 plate appearances yet was so bad that he ranked in the top 15 in league worst WAR values (-1.1). Kipnis had a season to forget, Bourn is another sunk cost and Aviles’ days with the organization could be numbered.

Hayden Grove:

  1. Raburn
  2. Swisher
  3. Kipnis
  4. Bourn
  5. Murphy

If you were to look at the five aforementioned names prior to the start of the 2014 season, you would imagine that the Indians underwent a disastrous and gut-wrenching campaign. Essentially, the entirety of the Indians payroll is listed above and it’s alarming. Nevertheless, this was a two-horse race between Ryan Raburn and Nick Swisher and while Swisher was terrible, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. He did hit some big home runs in some big spots and when you have surgery on both of your knees, you know you’re not healthy. Raburn was given an unwarranted extension last season and was less valuable this season than he was during his horrid final season in Detroit. It was close, but Raburn was as bad as Swisher, without the clutch knocks to his advantage.

Michael Goodman:

  1. Swisher
  2. Raburn
  3. Kipnis
  4. Bourn
  5. Aviles

Swisher was easily the most disappointing hitter. Whether it was injury, age, or some other unknown factor, the Indians sank 15 million dollars this year into a player who gave them a -1.6 WAR. His season was the biggest reason the team never got on track offensively. They missed having even the 2013 version of Swisher in the middle of the lineup. Between Swisher and Raburn’s awful seasons, the Indians were missing a lot of their bite against left-handed pitching. I’m not sure how Raburn survived. He’s here to do only one thing, which is hit lefties, and he couldn’t do it. Jason Kipnis was at the top of last year’s ‘Most Valuable Hitter’ list for me. While he wasn’t as bad as Swisher or Raburn, his drop off from last season was just as dramatic. Bourn has now been a negative offensive player for two years in a row, and this season he did it with a .345 BABIP. That’s not a good sign he’s going to turn it around. Lastly, Aviles had what I would consider an underrated bad season at the plate. He had a couple of game-winners and he’s not a regular, which I think protects him, but that .621 OPS and 3.5% walk rate in .338 at-bats was still awful.

Jake Dungan:

  1. Raburn
  2. Swisher
  3. Kipnis
  4. Cabrera
  5. Murphy

This season only proved what many feared as far as utility outfielder Ryan Raburn’s elevated production a year ago -- it was a fluke. And now it appears the Indians signing him to a multi-year extension was premature. Unfortunately for Raburn, his time with the Indians may be marked more by his mega outfield miscue in Kansas City this season than any positive production he provided the year before.

Jamyson Frierson:

  1. Swisher
  2. Raburn
  3. Cabrera
  4. Kipnis
  5. Chisenhall

I think we can all understand why Swisher has been the worst hitter of them all in baseball. There are definitely others that statistically had a horrible year but Swisher stuck out more than others. He had the worst season of his career and just recently got double knee surgery to repair ligaments. His defense at first base and right field was abysmal and he swung at every pitch thrown to him. Although he played injured for most of the season, it is still no excuse to not show the plate discipline he had shown for years with the A’s, White Sox and Yankees. Swisher had career lows in every category. He hit .208 with 8 HR and 42 RBI. He must rebound and improve his numbers next season. Even more disappointing than Nick Swisher with the Tribe was Kipnis. He missed part of April with a hamstring injury and never seemed to fully recover from it. His numbers were all career lows besides the RBI. His defense also got worst and he struggled to turn numerous double plays over the season. The plate discipline and patience was not there at all this season. Kipnis hit .240 with 6 home runs and 41 RBI. It could be because he’s trying too hard to live up to his new contract or he was injured more than fans thought but he has to improve his entire game next season.

John Vourlis:

  1. Swisher
  2. Kipnis
  3. Shuck
  4. Gimenez
  5. Everyone else not on the Most Valuable Hitters list

You knew the Tribe was in trouble in September when Shuck and Gimenez were starting games.

Tyler Stotsky:

  1. Raburn
  2. Swisher
  3. Kipnis
  4. Bourn
  5. Murphy

A lot of expectations were hyped with the Indians signing Raburn to an extension last year. But he did the exact opposite of delivering a solid season.

Spencer Davies:

  1. Swisher
  2. Kipnis
  3. Raburn
  4. Aviles
  5. Cabrera

Before I get flack for this, I understand that injuries play a big factor in deciding a player’s true performance. That being said, I have never been more disappointed in a long-term signing than Nick Swisher. Diving into his numbers in half of a season would make me angry, so I won’t even go there. Just knowing that the Indians have him under contract for the next three years and have to play him instead of others that deserve opportunities is irritating enough.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

User Comments

John L.
October 15, 2014 - 4:51 PM EDT
*100 less at-bats
John L.
October 15, 2014 - 4:49 PM EDT
I don't think Mike Aviles and David Murphy's names belong on this list. Both players saw more at-bats than anticipated. Given the woes and injuries to Jason Kipnis, Ryan Raburn, Nick Swisher, & Michael Bourn, they played more than they should have and didn't do a horrific job. Aviles had more homers, stolen bases, and RBI than Bourn in 10 less at-bats. When you break it down Aviles hit about the same or better than Bourn and David Murphy hit the same or better than Swisher. Aviles and Murphy were never meant to be anchors in the top and middle of the lineup but they had to fill in for the guys that were supposed to be there. If Aviles and/or Murphy were are top stars and everyday players I would be more inclined to rank them on this list but the truth is they are extra pieces
October 12, 2014 - 6:46 PM EDT
For me Rayburn would win after that spike into the game on throw from left field. It made headlines and Terry still played him until he got hurt.
Nick played and stuck out so much, management had to find a way to get him out of the line-up.
Nick must have had bad knees with Yankees since they benched him for not hitting and our management jumped in there and signed him long term. Another management BURST.
The straw that broke the camel,s back was picking up J.B. Stuck, who was let go by Angels. Management then wanted to play him instead of Holt. Holt was hitting .286 and Stuck was hitting .102,
figure that one out.
Terry would always match up batters to pitchers even if his substitutes could not hit or catch. Example Chris Gimenez, cut by Texas due to no hitting. Chris was always a defensive player, who could not play first or catch a grounder.
Decision by Terry and management lost the season for us. Thanks Guys.
Vic Venom
October 9, 2014 - 9:03 PM EDT
I dont think the minimal at bats should be a big deal in this discussion. They were BOTH playing in key games late in the season, and other times, and were atrocious. Shapanetti should be criticized for bringing both of these frickin scrubs onto our major league team. I mean every time i saw Giminez play, i was thinking about Bill Murray's Groundhogs Day movie. It was like a bad acid trip or something.
October 9, 2014 - 10:35 AM EDT
I'm sorry but JB Shuck and Chris Gimenez should not be candidates. Gimenez had nine at bats. If he got three or four singles in blowout losses is he suddenly a consideration for most valuable hitter??
Vic Venom
October 9, 2014 - 12:49 AM EDT
You can see it as a "pointless exercise," but it generates interesting discussion.
October 9, 2014 - 12:31 AM EDT
Great website and some really fine articles.
But this is a pointless exercise.
October 8, 2014 - 10:57 PM EDT
I voted for Swisher.....just comes down to who the Indians really relied more on going into the season. Swisher was supposed to play everyday, provide solid defense at 1B and play a little RF, and be his consistent self with the bat as a productive guy. But in the end all he turned out to be was a $15 million cheerleader because of constant injuries he dealt with all season. Whether his problems truly were injury related or it is a sign that he is in for a massive decline....we will find out next season. But the Indians needed him to do his thing a lot more than Raburn who was only going to be a part timer. Raburn no doubt disappointed himself though he's never been a reliable player in his career.....and for me it comes down to money. Blowing $2-3M on Raburn doesn't hurt as much as $15M on Swisher.....opportunity cost.
October 8, 2014 - 8:23 PM EDT
My initial reaction was Rayburn. Reading the nominations I can see where Swisher is also a candidate.

All of that said I would go with Rayburn. He only had to play in platoon situations I also remember a walk off grand slam by Swisher. If there was such by Rayburn I do not remember it.

All Rayburn had to was play in platoon situations. He failed utterly.


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