Differences Between 2022 vs 2023: Start Thinking About 2024 Part 4

October 8, 2023

Andy Billman

What a Difference a Year Makes!

1 – Starting Rotation 

The starting rotation injuries are the most significant visual difference between ’22 and ’23.  To start in the spring, it was supposed to be Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, Aaron Civale, Cal Quantrill, and Zach Plesac. 

By the summer, we had seen Hunter Gaddis, Peyton Battfield, Tanner Bibee, Logan Allen, and Gavin Williams make starts, and all rookies, yikes!  That is such a huge change that it is not even worth going into a profound explanation.  The young guns, who, to be fair, pitched well for the Guardians in 2023, made for short outings throughout the year, let alone making mistakes as young players.  It was just a no-win situation and cost Cleveland games. 

But there’s a significant factor involved, and that is the impact on the bullpen.  With shorter outings, it means more appearances for the relievers, which clearly took a toll on this club by the end of the season with the high ERAs of Trevor Stephan and Eli Morgan at the end of the year. 

2 – One-Run Games 

Speaking of stress on the bullpen, the Guardians led the AL with 58 one-run games in 2023. Only the Reds played more in all of baseball, with 63 games.  It must be an Ohio thing.    

The one-run games combined with the injuries to the starters combined for a terrible situation for the Guards bullpen as they were asked to do more than expected in high-level stress situations.  According to MGM, the Guardians blew 34 saves, tied for the most in MLB.  Even the Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase, who led all of baseball with the most saves, had twelve blown saves alone for Cleveland.  Just an unfair situation all year for the bullpen.

Back to the one-run game stat.  In 2022, the Guardians played 49 one-run games, going 30-19.  In 2023, 27-31.  They played more one-run games yet won fewer games.  This was a big reason the Guardians did not make the playoffs in 2023.  They had too many close games and needed to win more of them.  No wonder manager Terry Francona kept chewing gum throughout the game. 

3 – Lack of Power 

There are a lot of baseball stats that will talk about the lack of hard-hitting balls from the Guardians that I could write about.  But let’s get to the apparent stat: Cleveland finished last in home runs with 124, 27 short of 29th.  UGH

The lack of home runs is just flat-out alarming.  In 2022, they got away with a lack of home runs with 127, because they were 6th in all of baseball in hits.  In 2023, they ranked 13th in hits, which is still not bad, but that drop in hits cost the Guardians runs.   

I believe the 2023 hit total is a more accurate total than 2022, meaning they must get more home runs in 2024 to play deep into October.

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