Early in spring training, manager Pat Corrales was asked if he was concerned that so many experts were touting his Indians as the up-and-coming team of 1987. "Naw," Corrales replied a bit testily. "I don't pay any attention to that——. I'm not saying a word about it. If you're good, you don't have to blow your own horn." Well, the Indians are good, and they do rate a toot or two from the brass section, but whether they deserve a full chorus of Hail to the Chief remains to be seen.
What Cleveland is good at is hitting the ball. Last year they led the majors with a thunderous .284 team batting average and 831 runs scored. There are no weak sisters in this lineup. Pitching, alas, is another ball game. The team earned run average was 4.58, an improvement over the franchise high of 4.91 in '85, but still 12th in the AL. Rick Dempsey, signed as a free agent, should help both the defense and the pitching. He will share the catching with Chris Bando, who has to handle the knuckleballers, Phil Niekro and Tom Candiotti. Dempsey will catch the other starters, Scott Bailes, Ken Schrom and Greg Swindell.
Swindell is the operative name here. The former University of Texas star lost 24-5 to the Red Sox in his August debut, but he recovered to win four in a row and finish the year 5-2. The Indians consider him to be their future. Niekro, now a doddering 48, is the past. Unlikely duo that they may be, they represent the keys to the present. If Cleveland gets even a modicum of good pitching, this may indeed be an Indian summer.
1986 average was 44 points higher than his career average entering the season.
Has higher career average vs. lefthanders (.304) than vs. righthanders (.268).
Career batting average of .308 with runners in scoring position.
First Indian to lead the majors in RBIs since Al Rosen in 1953.
Yearly averages in Late-Inning Pressure since 1983: .304, .298, .224, .196.
Batted .254 with runners on, .335 with bases empty, 2nd largest gap in AL.
2nd half: Canseco, 10 HRs, 39 RBIs; Joyner, 2 HRs, 28 RBIs; Snyder, 16 HRs, 51 RBIs.
Batted 8th in 46 games; Cleveland's 8th place batters hit an astonishing .326 last year.
With 18 consecutive seasons, only one '87 game away from AL record for catchers.
Allowed 9 first-inning home runs, most in the majors last season.
Led AL in complete games (17) and Indians in average innings per start (7.36).
2-3, 5.26 ERA as a starter; 8-7 (7 saves), 4.68 ERA in relief.
Allowed only one extra-base hit to a lefthanded batter in nine starts.
Loves to face George Brett (0 for 14, 4 Ks), but hates to face Alan Trammell (6 for 12, 3 HRs).
Last HR by a righthanded batter: Aug. 31, 1984, by Dwight Evans.