Progressive Field in Cleveland flat-out shuts down offensive output, and does so in multiple ways. Home runs disappear: The park was the toughest in MLB in which to homer in 2009 and is mildly bomb-unfriendly over multiple years of data. Further, groundballs have been hit significantly more often in Cleveland than anywhere else in baseball.
In a more more intelligently run organization, the low run environment might dictate more stolen base attempts. Not so for the Tribe, though: A poorly composed, aging and slow-footed team tried only 115 thefts last year, good for 11th in the AL. New manager Manny Acta has not generally been inclined to run, so that may not change much in 2010.
The Indians' hurlers were bad from the start in 2009, but after trading their three best arms in the second half, they really went downhill. They finished with the second-worst strikeout rate and third-worst walk rate in the American League and posted the third-fewest innings per start from their rotation.
Acta and pitching coach Tim Belcher may look to ratchet up their rotation's workload in 2010. Belcher has worked with the homegrown Indians pitchers for eight seasons already and brings a former innings eater's mentality to the job.
Cleveland may look for a way to unload Kerry Wood's contract, so don't be surprised if Chris Perez gets some save chances later this year. Wood's 2011 option automatically vests at 55 games finished, although it's at the club's discretion if he doesn't.
The environment of their home park dictates that the Indians emphasize infield defense. Converted shortstops at both second base (primarily Luis Valbuena) and third base (Jhonny Peralta) complement current point man Asdrubal Cabrera.
Michael Brantley is slated for left field but is no more than average. Shin-Soo Choo is among the better defensive right fielders. Grady Sizemore will return at full strength and be a plus defender in center field.
About Matt Trueblood
Matt is a journalism student at Loyola University Chicago. The guest contributor is a featured Chicago Cubs columnist on the Bleacher Report as well as a contributor to hotstove.com. Matt envisions himself as both a writer and analyst and strives to deliver pieces that are both well-researched and thought-provoking. He work first appeared on KFFL.com in February 2010.
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