Manager Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians has always stressed playing “clean” baseball. It’s the type of baseball in which, win or lose, at the end of the day means you don’t give games away with bad at-bats, poor pitching or sloppy defense. Though 16 games of the 2014 season for the Indians, they have had a little bit of all three in going 7-9, but the most glaring is their defense, which entering Saturday had the worst percentage in the American League.
The nose dive by the Indians’ defense has seen them already with an AL high 16 errors, tied with the Oakland A’s for the lead entering Saturday. The team is sitting though dead last in the American League in fielding percentage, at .972. The A’s are just ahead of the Indians with a .974 percentage after 16 games on the diamond. Last season the Indians were nine over the league average with 98 errors, and ended the season with a .983 fielding percentage.
This year the errors seem to be glaring, as they have come at key times and it seems with runners on base. One player who has gotten off to an awful start in the field is new full-time catcher Yan Gomes. The catcher from Brazil earned a long-term deal right before the start of the season, but seems to be pressing in the field, committing five errors already in just 16 games. He’s overthrown base runners attempting to steal, and was credited with an error trying to force a pickoff at first on Friday.
Playing sound baseball in the field is something this team without a doubt needs if it’s going to compete with the likes of the Detroit Tigers and other top American League teams in 2014. Right now, trying to do too much, a lack of focus and a sprinkle of bad bounces have put the Indians in a bad spot early in the year when it comes to defense. While they have plenty of time to get things right in the field, they are off to a start worth forgetting in 2014.