On October 12, 2017 the Indians roster got the golf clubs out of the crawl space and tried to forget their tough loss the night before. It was the end of a bittersweet series that saw the highs (Lindor’s Game 2 Grand Slam) and the lows (Cleveland blowing a 2-0 series lead to the Yankees) of baseball. The 5-2 loss saw little offense with the good guys totaling 2 RBIs by the 8th and 9th hitters and a collective goose egg from the rest of the lineup. Disappointing to say the least.
As Clevelanders searched all over Cuyahoga County for the missing Tribe offense, New Yorkers were looking just as feverously for their power hitting right fielder Aaron Judge. Following a rookie-record 52 homeruns during the regular season, Judge managed a whopping 1 hit, zero homeruns and 16 strikeouts for the series. It looked like the Judge was absolutely not in session (I’ve been waiting all winter to say that).
Sure, he’s just a kid in his first playoff series. He’s not going to handle the pressure deep into October on his first go-around. Thankfully, the Yankees are very patient and can wait until he’s ready…and they signed Giancarlo Stanton.
It’s the biggest story of the offseason. The team that always has the money for the big guns adds another big gun behind their young, record-breaking big gun. For the foreseeable future, the Judge-Stanton duo on the Yankees lineup will tear apart the majors and it’s time for other teams — teams like the Indians who couldn’t win 3 games against them without Stanton or a well performing Judge — to sign their own big gun, a much bigger gun, someone tried and true who will put up consistent numbers…and we got Yonder Alonso.
The .268 career hitting 1st baseman fills a few holes for the Tribe and the team will be much better because of him, but is Yonder enough? Will the Encarnacion-Alonso duo stack up if say, the Tribe and Yankees meet again? Sure, Cleveland was one or two homeruns away from advancing but with Stanton and a more experienced Judge in the other dugout, will the Tribe get that elusive third victory? Will they even get one? Well, they are playing baseball after all, so we have plenty of stats to answer that question. Let’s look into their career numbers.
We’ll assume the majority of the two squads will perform similarly to last season and in the 2018 ALDS rematch, the series goes to five and it’s up to Encarnacion and Alonso of the Tribe or Judge and Stanton of the Yanks to win it in extras. Who has the upper hand?
With a much smaller sample size, Judge (.270) beats out Edwin (.265) but the Stanton/Alonso matchup is far closer with .268 for both players. For on base percentage, New York has the upper hand with Stanton (.360) and Judge (.402) topping Encarnacion (.354) and Alonso (.340), but we all know on base percentages is not why New York and Cleveland made moves this offseason. Both teams are looking for power so let’s get into their slugging percentages to see who will actually make substantial differences this season.
Judge tops Encarnacion once more with a .586 against Eddy’s .499 though we should point out again that Judge has only played one full season. The chances of his rookie year being an outlier are low but much more possible than Encarnacion’s who’s percentage spans almost 6,000 at bats. As for the newbies, a .557 career SLG for Stanton obliterates Alonso’s .407.
The last stat we’ll look into will be their total homeruns in each of their last five seasons. While this stat doesn’t take into account injuries, it serves as a barometer for durability. It simply boils a player down to how many long balls they were able to give their team year by year. Here’s how they match up from 2013 to 2017 (left to right):
Stanton – 24, 37, 27, 27, 59. Total – 174
Judge – 52. Total – 52*
Alonso – 6, 7, 5, 7, 28. Total – 53
Encarnacion – 36, 34, 39, 42, 38. Total – 189
*This number does not take into account the 27 games Judge played before his rookie season.
Unlike our first few stats, these numbers show where the problems may lie. From Encarnacion being a straight up beast to Judge’s small sample size making no promises for future success. And of course, Stanton tripling up Yonder over the last five years of baseball is not a great sign for Tribe fans. Lastly, after looking at Alonso’s numbers, it seems Cleveland blindly signed him on last year’s stat alone. However, can’t the same be said about New York and Stanton’s outlier 2017 season?
This is hardly all the metrics needed to see if the Indians have what they need to make it back to the World Series. It’s clear by the end of the season, the Yankees stats will be through the roof but in head to head matchups, say 5 games in early October, it may be up to Indians pitching to keep the new Bronx duo at bay.
Alonso is undoubtedly a good player and he’ll be a blast to watch this season if his first swing of Spring Training is any indicator, but if Judge has another 50-homer season and Alonso stays in the single-digits once again, we may need another piece either at the plate or on the mound to counteract the signing of Stanton. So, is Alonso enough? We better hope so.