Lonnie Chisenhall should be playing more for the Indians

John Gress

Let's find out if Lonnie can be something more than a part-time player.

Lonnie Chisenhall leads the Indians with a .362 batting average, a .489 slugging percentage, and a 158 wRC+, or at least he would, if he had enough plate appearances to qualify for such leaderboards. Instead, while Nick Swisher has been given a team-leading 127 PA, despite weak hitting and awful defense at first base, and Asdrubal Cabrera has gotten 116 PA despite even worse offense, Chisenhall has been limited to only 51 trips to the plate, putting him eleventh on the team. Even Ryan Raburn and his 19 wRC+ has gotten more opportunities than Lonnie.

Of course Chisenhall isn't a legitimate .362 hitter (the same BABIP gods who helped make his 2013 look far worse than it really was are now paying him back with a ridiculous .486 figure so far this season), but PITCHf/x data has hime swinging at fewer pitches outside the zone though, and his line-drive percentage is way up. Those are both signs of improvement, and I want to see him given the chance to show they are real. It's not as if there are just too many other good options on the roster right now.

I also want to see what happens when he's allowed to hit against left-handed pitchers. Not only has he been on the bench every time a southpaw starts the game, only once has he been allowed to stay in to face a left-handed reliever (he singled). He's been bad against lefties throughout his brief career, but he's far too young to have such a strict limitation placed upon him already.

Jason Kipnis landing on the DL (perhaps for a month) should lead to more opportunities for Chisenhall, but I'm not certain it will. Friday night showed that Francona still doesn't want him in against a lefty. Instead of putting Chisenhall in the lineup and playing Mike Aviles at second base, he played Aviles at third and Elliot Johnson at second. I'd rather see Lonnie in the lineup than either of those two, particularly Johnson, who was a longshot to make the roster, and has done nothing so far to make merit any playing time (or even a roster spot).

With right-handed starters today and tomorrow, Chisenhall will likely be in the lineup for both games. If a lefty is brought in to face him at some point, Lonnie should be allowed to stay in the game and face him. He should be starting almost every game right now. If he's not up to the task, let him show it on the field.

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