Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

Indians Hitters' First Third 'On Pace' Projections

Last month, we marked the official one-sixth tentpole of the 2012 Indians season by extrapolating “on pace” projections for every hitter and pitcher on Cleveland’s roster. The numbers were derived with the incredibly arduous and scientific model of taking each player’s counting stats from the Tribe’s first 27 games and multiplying by six.

The Indians’ 4-2 victory over the Tigers Tuesday night marked an even bigger seasonal milestone: Game No. 54, or the one-third benchmark of 2012. In honor of time’s incredible single-direction linearity, I fired up the ol’ spreadsheets for another round of on pace projections.

As a reminder, these numbers are just for fun. I am in no way endorsing or suggesting the use of the following stats for anything but entertainment and reflection on the season to date—and even that is somewhat questionable for UZR and (by extension) fWAR. Now that that’s out of the way, here are the Indians’ hitters counting stats from the first 54 games of the season (* denotes 53 games) multiplied by three:

click to embiggen

The real star here is Jason Kipnis, who is on pace to lead the team in every single offensive category—and in most cases it’s not close. He’s played in every game this season, and both 40 steals and membership in the 30/30 club are real possibilities if he has a strong second half. A roughly six-WAR season would easily be an All-Star worthy performance, and if he keeps this up he could find himself listed at the bottom of a few MVP ballots too.

Another real bright spot is Asdrubal Cabrera. His power’s down from last year, he’s not stealing many bases, he’s on pace to miss a sixth of the season, and the sabermetric fielding stats still don’t like his glove. Yet he’s still on pace to be more valuable to the Tribe than he was last year (3.6 fWAR). That’s the power of improved plate discipline.

A few other highlights: Even after the missed time and the huge positional adjustment against designated hitters, Travis Hafner is better a league-average player. Most of the league still thinks of Jack Hannahan as a utility player, but he’s also in Pronk’s category. Despite all the talk of his down year, Shin-Soo Choo would be good for roughly 3.5 wins above replacement if you don’t believe the ridiculously negative UZR figure, and Lonnie Chisenhall would be on pace for about 4.5 WAR over a full season.

On the negative side is Carlos Santana—3.3 WAR is great for a catcher, but neither that nor the 15 home runs are anywhere near what most people expected from him this year. None of Cleveland’s left fielders or bench players look particularly good in this light, and Casey Kotchman is on pace to have one of the worst seasons in MLB history.

There’s a lot to like here, especially that the Indians are on pace to finish the season at 87-75. This doesn’t take into account the Tribe’s fairly easy schedule so far, the injuries that are mounting up, possible regression to the mean, or pitching, but with a solid chunk of the year now under our belts there’s definitely a lot to like about this Tribe team.

Tags: Asdrubal Cabrera Carlos Santana Casey Kotchman Cleveland Indians Jack Hannahan Jason Kipnis Lonnie Chisenhall Shin Soo Choo Travis Hafner

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