CLEVELAND -- Given all the Tribe's offseason activity, the acquisition of Ryan Raburn did not turn many heads.
Signed to a Minor League deal in January, Raburn put a nice showing together in Spring Training and stuck around on Cleveland's bench as the season began. He played often during April and received American League Player of the Week honors for his performance as the calendar flipped to May. And in Friday night's win over Texas, Raburn further demonstrated his value to the Tribe by cranking a three-run walk-off homer in the 11th inning.
"Raburn had swung the bat good all night," manager Terry Francona said. "He's actually been swinging the bat good all year."
With appearances in 58 of Cleveland's 102 games this season, Raburn is batting .273/.371/.553 with 12 doubles, 11 homers and 31 RBIs. Raburn, 32, also has 27 runs scored, 22 walks and 45 strikeouts.
He was named the AL Player of the Week for the period between April 29 and May 5, during which time he hit .591 (13-for-22) with four home runs and nine RBIs. Raburn had two straight two-homer games at the end of April.
"He has a short, quick swing, but he's worked hard to maintain it," Francona said. "I think that week he had early in the season did a world of good for his confidence. ... Every time he goes to the plate now, he's got a chance to do some damage."
Raburn needed just 161 at-bats to reach 11 home runs, becoming one of three players in baseball to hit 10 long balls in fewer than 200 at-bats this season. Atlanta's Evan Gattis (15 homers, 197 at-bats) and the Dodgers' Hanley Ramirez (11 homers, 163 at-bats) are the others.
"When I found out that he was coming over, I could not have been more excited," Nick Swisher said. "I've been playing against that guy for years. Just what he brings to the ballpark, man. He's having an unbelievable year. For him to sign a one-year deal to come over here and help us win some ballgames, man, [we] better lock that man up."
The Indians are certainly thrilled with how Raburn has come off the bench and contributed in games. Along with Mike Aviles and the rest of Cleveland's reserve crew, Raburn carries his share of the load to help the Tribe win.
"Having guys that have the ability to play every day, want to play every day and accept not playing every day," Francona said, "while being a leader and contributing when they don't, that's the kind of guy you want, and good teams have those guys. Every good team I've been on has had guys like that, and I'd put him right in the middle of that."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.