While superior and deep pitching has been a key ingredient in the Indians’ rise (Scott Elarton, their No. 5 starter is 4-0 with an 0.92 ERA in his last four starts), Travis Hafner’s offensive contributions have epitomized what MVP means. He’s carried the Indians in every way as Ortiz has carried the Red Sox.
In the three-game series in Chicago last week, Hafner went 7-for-12 with four homers and 10 RBI. His .351 average with runners in scoring position was sixth best in the AL going into the weekend (Ortiz was eighth at .345, while Gary Sheffield was first at .371). While the game-winning RBI stat tends to be misleading in that it constitutes the run that puts a team ahead for good, no matter what inning it occurs or how big the ultimate margin of victory, it is interesting to note that the three AL leaders as of Friday were A-Rod with 20, Ortiz with 19 and Hafner with 18.
But in the case of Hafner, he missed 3-1/2 weeks after being hit in the face with a pitch from the White Sox’s Mark Buerhle in mid-July and was still suffering dizziness for two weeks after his return. That more than anything accounts for his lower RBI and home run totals. The most compelling stat on Hafner’s MVP resume is the Indians’ 42-16 record in games in which he’s driven in at least one run as opposed to 33-38 when he does not.
Cleveland are currently leading K.C., 3-0, Victor Martinez continuing his crazy 2nd half with a 3 run shot off Zach Greinke in the first inning.