Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

Indians Hitters' First Month 'On Pace' Projections


It’s always fun to look at what players are “on pace” to do early in the season. After the first game of the year Jack Hannahan was on pace to hit 162 home runs, Chris Perez was on pace to blow 162 saves, and Jairo Asencio was on pace to throw 486 innings. Clearly all of those rates were completely sustainable.

As the season wears on people don’t talk about paces as much, probably because the numbers become less extreme once the sample sizes start to grow. But that doesn’t mean “on pace” stats can’t be fun. With the Indians hitting the precise one-sixth tentpole for the 2012 season Monday afternoon (the first game of the doubleheader was No. 27), it seems appropriate to take a look at how Tribe players are on pace to finish.

I calculated “on pace” projections for each player on Cleveland’s 25-man roster by taking their numbers after Game No. 27 (asterisk denotes stat taken after Game No. 26) and multiplying by six. Here’s how the Indians’ hitters project in terms of games played, hits, home runs, RBI, runs scored, stolen bases, UZR, and FanGraphs‘ wins above replacement. Note that these numbers are not at all scientific, and UZR especially is not meant to be taken seriously in such a small sample size. (click to embiggen)

One guy really stands out here: Jason Kipnis. He’s the only hitter on the team who’s on pace to hit 30 homers and top 100 RBI or runs, and he even has an outside chance of collecting 200 hits. As if that’s not enough, he’ll also throw in 36 steals. Even with poorly rated defense he’s on pace for almost eight WAR—an MVP-caliber performance.

Asdrubal Cabrera‘s counting stats don’t stand out like Kipnis’, but his 7.2 projected WAR total is also pretty incredible. Especially when you consider that he’s on pace to play only 126 games—getting that kind of production from a player who misses more than a month would be ridiculous.

With 5.4 WAR from behind the plate Carlos Santana looks to be on his way to superstar status as well. Jack Hannahan projects to be a very solid player despite rating as a below-average fielder so far; weirdly enough he’s on pace to score just 36 runs. Travis Hafner‘s looking pretty good too.

The rest of the starting lineup is quite interesting. Shelley Duncan has been a beast at the plate, but he projects to cost the Tribe 12 runs with his glove. Meanwhile, Michael Brantley looks like a solid defensive center fielder but is on pace to go all year without a homer. Shin-Soo Choo will get 30 steals but be below replacement level—a “huh?” on both counts—and Casey Kotchman could challenge for 20 steals but is on pace for possibly the worst season in MLB history.

Meanwhile, the Indians won’t get much out of their bench—the Tribe’s reserve players are on pace to combine for exactly zero home runs in 308 games. Johnny Damon and Aaron Cunningham are the definition of replacement level, while Lou Marson and Jason Donald look like clear liabilities.

These projections are, of course, absolutely ridiculous—Santana’s and Hafner’s are the only ones that look like they could be at all realistic. But for the team as a whole I’ll take them in a heartbeat, as the Indians are on pace to win 96 games and take the AL Central.

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Tags: Aaron Cunningham Asdrubal Cabrera Carlos Santana Casey Kotchman Jason Donald Jason Kipnis Johnny Damon Lou Marson Michael Brantley Shelley Duncan Shin Soo Choo Travis Hafner