Hopefully you caught part one of the End of the Year Feathers. If not, go ahead and catch yourself up. If you did, here are the rest of the (second) best in the AL Central. Three (average) all the way down to one (yukky bad). Plus the end of the season awards to two special players.
Michael Brantley - .266/.318, 63 R, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 13 SB
Last Year: 2
It is hard to not give Michael Brantely a little more love, but I'd say he rounded out at about average. It wasn't above average, and it certainly was not below expectations. I'd say with a little more, Brantley can easily top this area. He plays good defense, now pretty much the guy in center, and this year he showed he can be the leadoff guy. There is one area that I'm a little disappointed in and it is with the speed. Not sure if it's the buggy injuries that are holding him back, but the stolen bases are not what you expect from someone who piled them up at the minor league level. Not to mention, he stole 10 a year ago in significantly less games. Brantley needs to get moving a little more because for him, any steal is like adding on to his total of double. Doesn't 50 doubles look a lot better than 37?
Ezequiel Carrera - .243/.301, 27 R, 0 HR, 14 RBI, 10 SB
Last Year: NF
Pip-Zeke! Who would have thought this kid would have had a part in a few wins this year? His debut pretty much sparked a win and from there on out he showed he could play. Will he ever hit a home run at the major league level? Maybe, but that matters none. When Trevor Crowe went down with the injury that claimed most of his season, the possibility came up for Zeke to get a shot at some point. He did and he did not waste it. That eventually led to him being a player when Sizemore and Choo both went down and even Brantley was battling some injuries. He's definitely going to be in the mix next year for something and with his nice speed/defense combo, I'd say he's got the inside track to be the fourth outfielder.
Kosuke Fukudome - .249/.300, 26 R, 5 HR, 22 RBI, 2 SB
Fukudomeeeee! I looked at these numbers and was like.. Wait a minute. It seems he was a lot more productive than that. And that really is because he was. I mean those numbers are far from flashy, but after the Indians acquired him, Fukudome was reliable. He hit a lot better than most of us thought he would. He played solid outfield at any of the spots Acta put him at. It was just a perfect fit and it would be cool to see him back in Cleveland next year. He's a good ball player and he really added some consistency and durability to the team in the second half.
Jack Hannahan - .250/.331, 38 R, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 2 SB
At the risk of sounding silly (I've already done it with the past two players), SUPER MANNAHAN!!!!!!!! This guy. This guy. I mean. Eight unsuspecting home runs and 40 RBI aside, this guy plays defense. And does he play it well or what? It's scary to think what would have happened if there was some black hole named Luis Valbuena starting at third base for this team. Justin Masterson may have been demoralized to the point of not having a good year, Josh Tomlin may have never made it past five innings in most starts, and who knows what other good thing may have not happened. Am I exaggerating a little bit? Sure, why not. But thank this man for his year. He was a splendid joy to watch at the hot corner, a huge contrast to the eyesore (collectively?) that was there in 2010
Lou Marson - .230/.300, 26 R, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 4 SB
Last Year: 1
Someone who hit .230 is getting an average grade? Yeah and you know why? Because last year, he hit like dirt. Marson does so much though, it's hard to ignore his talent behind the dish. When this guy is back there, it seems like the pitching is always better. He's got a laser of an arm (Laser Lou, right?) and can really guard the plate. He's the total package as a catcher, so really, all he doesn't have to do is not suck hitting. That's what we said last year, but he sucked. He was horrible. This year, he carried his own weight. He gets on base at a reasonable rate (the hits helped) so really, that's what I'd care most about.
Lou was able to initially play mostly against the left-handers, which he hits really well. Overall this year he hit .297 against the left-handers, which is far and away better than the .191 average he has. Point-blank, he needs to play mostly against lefties to be most effective.
Shelley Duncan - .260/.324, 29 R, 11 HR, 47 RBI
Last Year: 3
Cawwwww! Hawk Blood! Winning! All That! Shelley Duncan is the man. In fact, I would prefer to just use this entire paragraph to talk about Shelley Duncan in regards to how awesome he is rather than how good of a year he had. Look, Duncan is what he is. He's a great bat off the bench and some solid veteran leadership. He did more than you could have asked for in September when he just started to light it up. The fact that he was sent down to Columbus for a bit saddened me. He deserves and should be on this roster. You need payers like him, in my opinion at least, if you want to make a postseason run. He's someone everyone likes and that's invaluable. Not to mention, who else are you going to use as your pinch hitter? Who betta than Shelley?
Carlos Carrasco - 8-9, 124 IP, 4.62/1.36, 85 K
Boy I don't know what to say here. Carlos was good. There was a point in the season after he had come off the disabled list, that Carrasco was the team's best pitcher. It was looking scary good that the Indians had a one-two punch like Carrasco and Masterson, then a guy like Tomlin. Then it started to come unglued and now Carlos Carrasco is gone for 2012 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
But give some serious credit to what Carlos was able to do before the injury. He did go on the disabled list with some minor issues earlier in the year, but nothing he didn't overcome. The elbow was a new injury and it really bites that his progress and growth is being put on hold for him to rehab from this.
David Huff - 2-5, 50 IP, 4.09/1.42, 36 K
I spoke about David Huff in the Columbus recap, so I won't spend a whole lot of time, but David Huff really showed something. The guy came back this year and got himself out of Manny Acta's doghouse, which says a lot about his character. I'm still not sure if he'll be an Indian (or Clipper or whatever) next season. But it's good to know David has matured into someone with some real strong character.
Chris Antonetti - Signed 3B Jack Hannahan, SS Adam Everett, OF Austin Kearns, OF Travis Buck, 2B Orlando Cabrera, RP Chad Durbin; Traded SP Aaron Laffey for 2B Matt Lawson, OF Abner Abreu and RP Carlton Smith for OF Kosuke Fukudome, 2B Orlando Cabrera for OF Thomas Neal, SP Drew Pomeranz, SP Alex White, SP Joe Gardner and 1B Matt McBride for SP Ubaldo Jimenez, Cash for DH Jim Thome
Some people will look at that last one and just say, Jim Thome, thanks for that, A+. Most will look at the Ubaldo Jimenez deal and automatically grade Antonetti. I'd say all in all though, it was a pretty wild first year at the helm for Antonetti. You cannot overlook some of his better signings though. The half-season addition of Orlando Cabrera stabilized that middle infield people. It let the Indians not have to worry about third by placing Jason Donald there, of course we all knew how that ended up though with Hannahan taking over. And Hannahan was Antonetti's doing, he signed him. So give credit where credit is due, those two moves alone impacted so much. The defense let players like Masterson thrive, and they even contributed offensively.
I'd give him a win on the Fukudome deal, of course it remains to be seen how Abner Abreu pans out, but the Indians got what they wanted and shouldn't miss either piece. Then of course, you have Ubaldo Jimenez. You can't grade that, you just can't right now. If it would have pushed the Indians into the postseason, I'd have given Antonetti five feathers. But it didn't. It also did not push the Indians out of the postseason either. So that's why I sit him at the average scale. I loved what he did in the first offseason and season in his control and can't wait for his encore, especially since it's already started off pretty well.
Lonnie Chisenhall - .255/.284, 27 R, 7 HR, 22 RBI, 1 SB
Not everyone is Jason Kipnis. Sometimes there is an adjustment that needs to be made. Chisenhall has seemingly gone through those adjustments last year. He came up, started, got hit in the face, came back rather quick and showed a lot of toughness. Hannahan retook the third base spot for awhile, then he got hurt and it was time for Chisenhall to take over. You see his full-season numbers up there, well here's what he did in September: .279/.295, 13 R, 4 HR, 14 RBI. A majority of those numbers came in September when he started to "get it" and you have to feel really good about that moving forward. Also feel good about the .260 average against left-handers, which was his main struggle in Columbus.
Shin-Soo Choo - .259/.344, 37 R, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 12 SB
Last Year: 5
Is this right? Is this just to be putting Shin-Soo Choo below average? I think so. Considering he didn't even reach what I would consider average. Choo under-performed even when he was healthy. And he was not healthy for the majority of the year. Throw in the injuries and then the DUI situation and this was just more than a down year for Choo. This is the team's guy. This is the guy in the lineup that you depend on and just imagine how much better the offense is if he is at his full potential, or even close to his full potential. Choo is better than this. It could have been the pressure of now playing for his country now that he has military immunity, or whatever. Whatever it is, I think we began to see Choo kind of turn a corner and put everything behind him, until his season was cut short due to injury. Let's just forget about 2011 Choo, and move forward.
Grady Sizemore - .224/.285, 34 R, 10 HR, 32 RBI
Last year, Grady Sizemore did not even play enough to be feathered, so consider this a good this a good thing that he's even here. I think first game, Sizemore comes back and hits that home run and everyone is salivating at the prospects of this season. We got a healthy Hafner, Santana and Cabrera are awesome, and Choo has yet to get it really going. Add in a healthy Sizemore? This team might have made the playoffs if that stayed true all year, might have even gone further than that. But Grady couldn't keep it up. He scuffled, got hurt again, and now we are here and he's officially a Free Agent. The book is not closed on Sizemore yet, but it seems unlikely at this point that he's going to come back. If that's the case, then thanks to Grady Sizemore for the past few years. We know what type of player he can be, but it's unfortunate that the thing that makes him great, has also potentially derailed his career.
Jeanmar Gomez - 5-3, 58 IP, 4.47/1.51, 31 K
Not going to spend a lot of time on Jeanmar Gomez, but you have to like the way the guy pitched this season. It was not stellar and I think we know at this point what Gomez is all about. But for what he is, a spot-starter, he does a good job. Gomez came in at several points and made some good starts, one in May specifically. He got a string of starts in September with Tomlin down and he did well there too. With Lowe in the fold, I wouldn't be shocked to see the Indians try and move Gomez though.
Ubaldo Jimenez - 4-4, 65 IP, 5.10/1.45, 62 K
Oh, Ubaldo... I'm just going to point this out. In five September starts he was 2-3 with a 4.60 ERA, 24 strikeouts, 16 walks. I'm a little mortified by the walks. I mean When you strikeout as many hitters that Ubaldo did (180) in a full season, I guess you can afford to walk 78 hitters. But this guy needs to be THE guy next year. I'm sure the trade kind of rocked him, he's adjusting to a new league, a new city and to that end, he wasn't have a great year anyway. He's going to winter ball this offseason, something he did not do last year, so he'll get to work on some stuff and hopefully we'll start to see the real Ubaldo Jimenez. This guy is a bonafied ace and if you can stick him at the beginning of your rotation and follow up with Masterson, Tomlin, Lowe, and hopefully a slightly righted Carmona, you are in business.
Chad Durbin - 2-2, 68 IP, 3 HLD, 5.53/1.64, 59 K
Yeah.... Here's the odd thing about Chad Durbin. It seems like whenever he came in for a meaningful situation, like with runners on or when the Indians really needed him to get the job done, he did it. Yet he ended up with a 5.53 ERA because when he got hit, he got hit. He knew how to party, that's for sure. Look I'm not going to talk bad about Durbin. He won't be here next season, or at least with all the bullpen depth, I don't think he will be. But there is one thing that I think he did this year that was invaluable. He was sort of the veteran leader. I mean, Chris Perez is the closer and the defacto leader and he runs with that. But Chad Durbin is the knowledgeable veteran, almost as if he's a wise uncle and I've heard numerous relievers at time credit Chad for things. So hats off to Durbin in that regard and thank you for your service. I still have to stuff a Jhonny Peralta shirt in my mouth and run into a wall because we signed you, but that's besides the point.
Frank Herrmann - 4-0, 56 IP, 5.11/1.54, 34 K
Frank The Taaaank. I'm almost sad to put him on the same level as Chad Durbin, because he did way better than that. But here's the deal with Herrmann. He's a depth guy. He gives you some innings. His job was to come in late or come in early when you needed some innings. Acta gave him a few opportunities as a late inning reliever, but most of the time, it did not work out. I love Herrmann, he brings a good role to the team, but he got hit more often than not this past season. He's another guy that is good for what he's there to do, but if you try and do anything else with him, he's probably not going to get the job done.
Bruce Fields/Jon Nunnally - .250 AVG (15th), .317 OBP (17th), 704 Runs (16th)
I really don't have much to say here. Why is an offense that ranked higher than the pitching lower in the feathers? Simply put, this is the American League, your hitting will always outrank your pitching, even if the pitching is better. Nunnally started the year out and when the Indians were not satisfied with the production, they made a change. Fields was named in the interim and now as the full-time guy. Look, we'll see what Fields is made of, but let's be honest, it's a batting coach. His job is to get players out of slumps and fix people who are broken. Each has their own philosophy and as long as he doesn't turn a good hitter into a bad one, then I have no problem. I didn't think Nunnally did any of that, but sometimes you do need to change things up and get a new voice. So, that's that.
Travis Buck - .228/.275, 18 R, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 1 SB
So much for that. When the Indians brought in Travis Buck, it looked to have been a quality steal as he was hitting the ball all over the park in spring training. The Crowe injury, combined with Sizemore starting the year on the disabled list opened the door for Buck to slide right in and be a member of the roster on Opening Day. Turns out he just needed a clean bill of health (check) and a change of scenery (check).
Yeah, well, about that. The pressure kind of got to him and things didn't work out, which is why Buck has one feather and a .228 average.
Matt LaPorta - .247/.299, 34 R, 11 HR, 53 RBI, 1 SB
Does the production warrant one feather? Probably not, but you know what, I'm not handing out gift baskets or charity items at this point. LaPorta was not good. He was a disappointment. He got sent down to Columbus and when he stayed there for more than a few days, it showed just how much disappointment the Indians had in him. This is not acceptable, no more. It would behoove the Indians to go in a new direction this offseason, because it is not looking like LaPorta is the answer at first. He has power, but it's becoming a bit of an Andy Marte situation. There's a bit of an issue with the swing and whether it's over-thinking, trying to hard, or whatever, it's not working with LaPorta.
11 HR, 53 RBI. Yeah that's okay. But I'd expect that in a half of season from my first baseman, at the very least.
Fausto Carmona - 7-15, 188 IP, 5.25/1.40, 109 K
Last Year: 4
I feel bad for doing this, but it has to be done at this point. Fausto was bad last year. He needed to be at least the rotations second best pitcher. If you would have said to me Fausto Carmona would lose 15 games, but the Indians would win 80, I'd have called you a lunatic. Fausto was the one solid in the rotation and he ended up being the one dud. It's amazing how he's gone from end to the top back to the end in a year, but really, there is no real explanation at this point.
The Indians picked up the option on him, so he'll be back, we think. But this has to change. He can't be that again next season. It's hard to pinpoint what exactly is going on with him because although the walks went down, he pitched in less innings. His WHIP did not bloat up into the territory it did in 2008 and 2009, just a tad higher than 2010. Really it's a puzzle. A puzzle that only Fausto Carmona knows how to solve.
Mitch Talbot - 2-6, 63 IP, 6.64/1.85, 36 K
Mitch Talbot was what you would call... Dookie? Is that proper? Feces? I'm sorry Mitch, but, it just didn't work out.\
-End Year Awards-
I find it hard to give the "MVP/Best Player" type award to a starting pitcher, but I can't say enough for what Justin Masterson did. I mean look beyond the numbers. The fact that he was able to stabilize a rotation is so huge. I think it's also important to note that this is someone who's become a leader in the clubhouse. Look no further than him getting the entire team to pull together money for Jack Hannahan to charter a plane back home to see the birth of his son. This award, with so many people putting up great numbers, can go beyond the numbers. And I'm doing it with Masterson.
I really have bagged on Joe Smith the past two seasons. Part of it had to do with the fact that he could not stay on the mound, but I'd also say that part of it had to do with the use. I don't understand him being used against left-handers when the majority of lineups are made up of right handed hitters and he completely shuts them down. He did get some lefties this year, but look how much he pitched and look how many right-handers he faced. He shut them down. He's hidden in that bullpen in that role, but he does his job and he does it very very well. I couldn't really think of a better pick for this one, and with the bullpen doing such a great job, it only seemed right to pick the guy who probably gets overlooked the most in Mafia.