Mike Napoli, Juan Uribe, Rajai Davis, Tommy Hunter, Marlon Byrd
Chris Johnson, Mike Aviles, Nick Swisher
The Indians made moves that show they plan on going to the postseason this year. They added not just veterans, but veterans with postseason experience,and in Uribe and Napolis case, World Series experience. They basically lost nobody who will produce and added a group that brings depth and experience across the board.
Projected Playoff Lineup
- Jason Kipnis
- Francisco Lindor
- Michael Brantley
- Carlos Santana
- Mike Napoli
- Marlon Byrd/Lonnie Chisenhall
- Yan Gomes
- Juan Uribe
- Rajai Davis/Tyler Naquin
At the top of the Indians lineup is a group of three guys who all hit over .300 and all had an OBP higher than .350 last year. Brantley will be injured to start the season but is expected to be back in May. This will throw Davis to the top of the order, and a guy like Naquin will get everyday playing time. Naquin will make his MLB debut this season, and is a 24 with a decent amount of upside, especially defensively. Gomes is a guy who is coming off of a year in which injury really put him in a funk. He only played in 92 games, and when he played clearly was not at his best, and saw his WAR drop from 4.5 to .8 last year. To put it in perspective, Gomes also posted a 3.3 in just 88 games in his rookie season in 2013. He is a key for the pitching staff, one of the better defensive catchers in the league, and if he is healthy is healthy has the power of 20+ home runs which could be a huge spark for the lineup. With Gomes they then have the potential and ability to hit 20 home runs from their 3-7 hitters, and the Indians, if healthy have the chance to have a better than expected lineup.
The Indians have the potential to have the strongest rotation in the league. Kluber, Carrasco and Salazar all averaged over one strikeout per inning and posted strong walk rates as well. They have Anderson, who is only 24 and made 15 starts last year but seem to have a lot of faith in. They pushed Trevor Bauer to the bullpen instead of Anderson and Tomlin, and while it may just be a statement of Bauer, and the former number 3 overall pick’s play, it can also speak to Anderson, who did post a 3.06 ERA in his 91 innings of MLB play. Tomlin is a guy who can eat innings, and really Anderson aside, 200 innings out of any of the three shouldn’t be a problem. If the defense can be a bit better with some of the young names stepping up, the staff should be keeping this team contending.
The bullpen should be similarly strong to the staff. Hunter is expected to miss the beginning of the season but a 7-8-9 of Zach McAllister, Hunter, and Cody Allen could be a feared one. They essentially have talent top to bottom, and as mentioned the addition of Bauer and his high strikeout rate can only add to that fact.
The Indians check a lot of boxes. I went out and predicted them to win the AL last year and proved to have jumped the gun. It took time for the defense to find itself with Lindor, and Gomes missing time messed with the rotation and the Royals were clearly on a mission. This year the Indians may have pushed the right buttons to make a run. The veterans added to the strong core established gives you the feeling of a team that can make a run. They have depth at almost every position, and their staff should be looked at as one of the strongest in the league. Given that they have some pretty decent odds at 18:1 to win a World Series, I think it is worth a stab to call it in hope of the big reward. It should be easy to hedge out of at many points, but this team on paper has the look of a legitimate contender.
1st in the AL Central
+1800 to win the World Series