CLEVELAND: The Indians are not a cleanup-hitter type of team.
Of course they have one — actually they’ve used five players in the No. 4 spot — but the Tribe offense is not dependent on the cleanup batter putting up huge numbers.
For the season, the fourth position in the batting order has compiled an aggregate batting average of .247 with 15 doubles, 10 home runs and 31 RBI in 255 at-bats.
The run production statistics are respectable if not exceptional. For a full season of 550 at-bats, they equate to 33 doubles, 22 homers and 67 RBI.
Nick Swisher has been the regular No. 4 hitter, starting 51 games in that spot and batting .250 with 13 doubles, seven home runs and 20 RBI in 188 at-bats.
The four other players who have spent time in the cleanup spot are batting a combined .239 with two doubles, three home runs and 11 RBI in 67 at-bats.
Michael Brantley is batting .242 (8-for-33) with one double and five RBI in eight games; Mark Reynolds has a .190 average (4-for-21) with one homer and two RBI in five games; Carlos Santana has spent two games as the cleanup hitter, batting .333 (2-for-6) with two homers and two RBI, and Ryan Raburn has batted in the No. 4 spot twice, hitting .286 (2-for-7) with a double, home run and one RBI.
Raburn didn’t get his first crack at the cleanup spot until last Tuesday against the Rangers’ Derek Holland in Arlington, Texas. But manager Terry Francona used him in the fourth spot again Friday night against Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals.
Why Raburn — not an everyday player — got the assignment against two of baseball’s more proficient starters is a matter of matchups and Swisher being moved to third in the order (he hasn’t hit fourth since June 4).
“Haven’t been there a whole lot,” Raburn said. “But in the minors that was pretty much my regular spot. I don’t change my approach no matter where I bat.”
Moreover, a hit or an RBI batting fourth doesn’t count for more.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re batting first or ninth, a home run is a home run,” Raburn said. “I’m just trying to help my club.”
Raburn has done that from a variety of spots in the lineup, in contrast to last season with the Tigers, a low point in his career.
“This year, I’m just trying to have fun, whether I go 4-for-4 or 0-for-4,” he said. “I didn’t have much fun last year, and it wore on me a lot. So the biggest challenge for me is going out and enjoying the game.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.