CLEVELAND (WHDH) — Ahead of the Boston Red Sox’ AL Divisional Series, here’s five things you should know about their opponent, the Cleveland Indians.
1. Their offense is better than you think
The Red Sox led the majors in runs by a healthy margin, but the Indians, relative to the rest of baseball, were one of the top offenses in the league. The Tribe scored 777 runs, which was good enough for fifth in the majors. (Boston, Colorado, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis were the only teams ahead of Cleveland.) And this isn’t a team that relies on the longball to get it done; the Indians were 18th in the majors in home runs.
2. Only one player on the team cracked 100 RBIs…
…and it’s an old friend. Former Red Sox slugger Mike Napoli hit 34 home runs and amassed 101 RBIs for the Indians this season, and nobody else had more than 87. Conversely, the Red Sox had three players with more than 100 RBIs – David Ortiz (127), Mookie Betts (113) and Hanley Ramirez (111).
3. Slight pitching edge goes to Cleveland
The Indians had a team ERA of 3.84 in the regular season, good for seventh in the majors. The Red Sox were ninth at 4.00. Cleveland relies on the strikeout – they were fourth in the majors with 1,398 strikeouts. And the bullpen is a major strength; Cleveland had the fourth-best relief ERA in the majors at 3.45.
4. Player you probably haven’t heard of…
Tyler Naquin. Before an August swoon, Naquin was generating some buzz as a potential Rookie of the Year candidate, but he batted .193 in August. He rallied in September, and for the season he batted. 296 with 14 home runs and 43 RBIs in just 365 plate appearances. Naquin, a first-round pick in 2012, strikes out at a good clip, but he’s a very talented young player.
5. If the Indians win the series…
It will be because they limited Boston’s offensive opportunities. Cleveland pitchers walked the sixth-fewest batters in the majors. Boston hitters generated the sixth-most walks in baseball. Getting runners on base and converting scoring opportunities against Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, and Josh Tomlin will be very important.
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