Sailing with the Clippers: 2013 season in review
The Columbus Clippers finished in second place in the International League West (nine games behind Indianapolis) with a 71-73 record under first-year manager Chris Tremie. They made a late season push for the playoffs in August but ultimately fell six contests short of the Wildcard.
Considering the plethora of injuries this team faced as well as the seemingly constant overturn with the roster - the team set a franchise record for transactions with 227 - this season should not be considered a failure. Sure, it may have been a little disappointing but with the lack of offensive talent, it’s actually quite impressive.
The Columbus bats struggled mightily all season and aside from a few exceptions, it doesn’t look like many of the position players will be returning to the Indians organization in 2014. Their numbers certainly reflect that notion. The Clippers ranked dead last out of 14 teams in average (.244), 11th in runs (577), 13th in doubles (219), 9th in home runs (101), 4th in walks (547), 2nd in strikeouts (1,200), 8th in stolen bases (115), 10th in on-base percentage (.325), 13th in slugging percentage (.373) and 12th in OPS (.687).
On the bright side, the pitching was a completely different story as the staff ranked highly in many categories. Columbus pitching finished 4th in ERA (3.70), 8th in complete games (3), 10th in shutouts (9), 9th in saves (37), 3rd in innings pitched (1,287), 8th in hits allowed (1,230), 10th in runs allowed (589), 10th in earned runs (529), 7th in walks (471), 2nd in strikeouts (1,239) and 5th in WHIP (1.32).
From an attendance standpoint, the Clippers lead the league in average attendance (9,212) and ranked third in total attendance (635,613).
Best of the Crew:
Preston Guilmet, RP
49 G, 5-4, 20 SV, 64.1 IP, 1.68 ERA, 43 H, 19 R, 12 ER, 14 BB, 72 K, .182 AVG
Guilmet does not have overpowering stuff by any means but his pinpoint control and deceptive delivery is what made him so effective this season. He lead the team in saves with 20 and was arguably the most reliable arm in the Clipper’s bullpen. Undoubtedly, Guilmet will be in the discussion for a spot in the Indians ‘pen next season.
Danny Salazar, SP
14 G, 4-2, 59.1 IP, 2.73 ERA, 44 H, 21 R, 18 ER, 14 BB, 78 K, .207AVG
I don’t believe Salazar needs much of an introduction. Any true Indians fan knows what this kid can do. Although his stay with Columbus was brief, Salazar dazzled Huntington Park with his phenomenal fastball and sharp off-speed pitches. Not much more really needs to be said about the right-hander but his showing at Triple-A was what earned him a spot in Cleveland’s starting rotation.
T.J. House, SP
24 G, 7-10, 2 CG, 141.2 IP, 4.32 ERA, 163 H, 76 R, 68 ER, 11 HR, 54 BB, 110 K, .291 AVG
House’s numbers don’t appear all that impressive but what earned him a spot on this list was the way he turned his season around. After going 1-8 through the first three months of the season, the southpaw finished strong with a 6-2 record and ended up as the team leader in wins (7) and innings pitched (141 1/3). It’s a long shot for him to crack the Indians’ rotation next year but it’s a possibility that he’ll be in the mix.
Bryan Price, RP
35 G, 1-3, 2 SV, 59 IP, 2.44 ERA, 51 H, 20 R, 16 ER, 5 HR, 12 BB, 75 K, .229 AVG
The 26-year-old Price cranked out a very productive year for Columbus in 2013. Whenever called upon, the reliever almost always stepped up to the occasion and got the job done. Like Guilmet, Price will look to compete for a bullpen spot in the majors come next season.
Walked the Plank:
Tim Fedroff , OF
136 G, .242 BA, 65 R, 124 H, 13 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 48 RBI, 72 BB, 118 K, 22 SB, .640 OPS
Fedroff was a huge disappointment coming off a 2012 campaign where he earned the honor of being the Indians top minor league position player. At times Fedroff looked like his old self but he was highly inconsistent. The outfielder didn’t drive the ball like he did in 2012 and his power numbers suffered because of that. He was designated for assignment at season’s end and it’s not clear what his future holds.
Juan Diaz, INF
122 G, .242 BA, 45 R, 107 H, 23 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 46 BB, 129 K, 2 SB, .665 OPS
Diaz just never got the ball rolling in 2013. He scuffled on both sides of the ball, making many inexcusable errors in the field and taking ill-advised swings at the plate. After being designated from assignment, it doesn’t look like Diaz will be returning next season.
Chun-Hsiu Chen, INF
94 G, .223 BA, 36 R, 78 H, 13 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 40 RBI, 37 BB, 105 K, 5 SB, .651 OPS
After obliterating the ball at Double-A Akron, Chen was promoted to the Clippers early on in the season. Initially he continued his hot-hitting but as the season progressed he tailed-off extensively. He had trouble catching up to the Triple-A pitching and that showed with his 105 strikeouts. At 24, he is still young so he has a little time to develop and perhaps he can turn things around in 2014.
Trevor Bauer, SP
22 G, 6-7, 121.1 IP, 4.15 ERA, 119 H, 64 R, 56 ER, 14 HR, 73 BB, 106 K, .266 AVG
As Cleveland’s top pitching prospect, Bauer surely did disappoint. On the surface, his numbers aren’t terrible but with the hype surrounding the 22-year-old he didn’t perform to expectations. Bauer’s 106 strikeouts were a good sign but he also walked 73 batters in just 121 1/3 innings. The command of his pitches is definitely his biggest issue and it’s almost a certainty that the Indians will try to tweak his mechanics in the off-season.
Scott Barnes, RP
23 G, 3-3, 27.2 IP, 7.81 ERA, 30 H, 24 R, 24 ER, 5 HR, 20 BB, 35 K, .286 AVG
The left-hander had a season to forget at every level he played at. After netting a 7.26 ERA in a short stint with Cleveland, Barnes posted a 7.81 ERA with the Clippers. He had problems locating his pitches and opponents hit .286 off of him. It’s hard to say if the Indians will keep him on the 40-man roster next year.
Cord Phelps, INF
65 G, .267 BA, 29 R, 68 H, 16 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 46 RBI, 27 BB, 49 K, 4 SB, .776 OPS
Phelps was plagued by injuries all season long but when he did get on the field he played relatively well. If Phelps is healthy out of Spring Training next year, he has a chance of making the Indians as a utility player.
Matt LaPorta, INF
44 G, .238 BA, 21 R, 39 H, 9 2B, 0 3B, 10 HR, 28 RBI, 17 BB, 30 K, 0 SB, .785 OPS
LaPorta’s power is still there but age is not on his side. Coming off 2012 hip surgery, the slugger tore up Triple-A pitching like he usually does. Unfortunately, he was sidelined again soon after that and he didn’t return to the field until late in the season. His second stint off the disabled list saw his numbers nosedive and it’s difficult to imagine LaPorta will ever wear an Indians uniform again.
Left On A Deserted Island:
Jeremy Hermida, OF
132 G, .247 BA, 62 R, 117 H, 23 2B, 3 3B, 17 HR, 66 RBI, 88 BB, 149 K, 1 SB, .781 OPS
Statistically, Hermida strung together a solid season and was arguably the best hitter in the Clipper lineup. For some reason, (perhaps his astronomical 149 strikeouts) he was not called up to Cleveland at the beginning of September. The Indians instead opted to promote fellow Columbus outfielder Matt Carson. He finished the season as the only player to spend the entire season on the Columbus roster from start to finish. Come next season, Hermida will be 30 years old and most likely will be trying to crack the 25-man roster of another big league team.
Ethan can be contacted by email at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @ethanjday