The Cleveland Indians have gotten off to a slow start with the bats in the 2014 campaign, and the big names for the Tribe are mostly to blame. With only 3 of the everyday players hitting above .250, the team is lucky to have posted 10 wins through the first 21 games. So in order to stay in the AL Central division race, the Indians must pick it up at the plate.
The regulars carrying the load for the Tribe thus far are the steady Michael Brantley and the surprising David Murphy. These two outfielders have driven in a combined 33 runs on the year. Brantley has always been a consistent hitter and expect him to keep his bat hot. Murphy had a down year with the Texas Rangers last year, and the low-risk move to add the 32 year old right fielder seems to have paid off. But even with their success, it will not be enough to keep the Indians competitive.
The list of guys that are slumping is much more lengthy. Nick Swisher has never been a guy that hits for average, but he has gotten off to an especially rough start in 2014. Being the emotional leader of the team, it’s important for Swisher to get it rolling as he provides a spark that ignites the ball club. Asdrubal Cabrera is another guy struggling at the dish, hovering around the .200 mark all year. Even though he had a poor showing in 2013, Cabrera has been hitting the ball hard as of late and is staying patient in the batter’s box. It would be surprising to see him continue to falter at the plate. The player that Tribe fans should be most worried about is Carlos Santana. Santana hasn’t looked confident at the plate this year, as his average has dipped to .130. His lack of success can be mostly attributed to the lengthening of his swing, and the more he presses, the longer it seems to get. Santana has experienced this problem in the past, so as long as he continues to stay disciplined at the plate and work counts, he should be able to work his way out of this drought.
If the the 2014 Indians hope to repeat the success they had in 2013, the heart of the lineup needs to start stringing together hits. Without a bona fide star on the roster to carry the offensive load, timely hitting is a must. Any simultaneous slumps that go on for an extended period of time (like the current situation) could derail the Indians season very quickly. Ultimately these hitters are too good to continue to struggle, so look for the Tribe offense to begin producing more in the near future.