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Indians 4, Royals 1 - August Fagerstrom's Final Thoughts

By August Fagerstrom Published: July 6, 2014

August Fagerstrom's final thoughts on the Indians 4-1 win over the visiting Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon.

1) It's undeniable at this point. Corey Kluber is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. A true major league ace. Up until this year, Kluber had been a guy whose peripherals looked better than his ERA, due to consistent hard contact. Not anymore. After today's near-complete game, Kluber's ERA sits at 2.86, a top-10 mark in the American League. His peripherals are even better. His home run rate is a top-25 mark among all major league pitchers. His strikeout rate is top-10. His walk rate is bested by only David Price. This guy is the real deal.

2) Jason Kipnis makes sense not only as the interim leadoff hitter during Michael Bourn's absence, but moving forward even once Bourn returns. Since Bourn came to Cleveland last season, he owns a .316 on-base percentage. That is not the kind of number you want atop your lineup. Having speed at the top of your order is important, but nothing trumps OBP in terms of lineup construction. It's not like Kipnis can't run, either. His 38 steals since the start of last season beat Bourn's 30. Bourn's profile as a singles hitter with speed plays much better towards the bottom of the order anyway, as it makes more sense to risk outs with your worst hitters at the plate than your best.

3) With a double and a home run, Yan Gomes bolstered his resume as an All-Star caliber catcher. By the numbers, Gomes has been a top-three offensive catcher in the American League and arguably the most valuable defensive catcher in all of baseball. Whether he actually gets voted in is another story, but he certainly has earned it with his well-rounded play.

4) Let me preface this one by saying I have been a fervent Nick Swisher supporter through all his struggles since he came to Cleveland. However, even though he reached base twice in today's game, his place on this team has become very concerning to me. Swisher entered the day with the lowest WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in the entire MLB, at -1.1. Essentially, that's saying Swisher's playing time this year could have been given to a generic, waiver wire, AAAA-type player and the Indians would be better off as a result, maybe even having an extra win. What makes matters worse is that Swisher now appears to be the full-time designated hitter after his poor performance at first base to start the season. Swisher has been the worst hitter on the team and isn't even adding value to the team by playing the field. That is not a recipe for success. Just ask the Royals and Billy Butler.

5) Despite the cause with regards for Michael Bourn's recurring hamstring problems, this one doesn't sound too serious to me. Terry Francona said pregame that the best-case scenario was a return before the All-Star Break, but that it didn't make sense to rush him back with four days off. Bourn, who insisted that he "knows his body," said this injury is not the same as last years, which required surgery in October. Then, he said he knew immediately that something was bad. This one, he said felt totally different. Add those two stories together and it sounds like a minimum-length DL stint. You just have to hope this is the last we hear of it.

6) I think Indians fans will like what they see out of Tyler Holt if he gets a chance to play. Though I'm not a fan of using the word, Holt is a "gritty" type of player who will fit in nicely with the "Goon Squad" mentality on the bench. He has good speed, can play all three outfield positions well, walks more than he strikes out, and, as Francona put it, "does everything the organization asks him to."

August Fagerstrom can be reached at afagerstrom@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow August on Twitter @AugustF_ABJ.

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