Cleveland Indians Predictions
Shockingly, no team spent more days in first place in the American League Central in the 2011 and 2012 seasons than the Cleveland Indians. They have no problem getting there, but they could never sustain their success over a 162-game schedule. The Indians fell apart in the second half in each of the past two seasons.
Enter manager Terry Francona. He led the Boston Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 and is the perfect man for the job in Cleveland. He welcomes in former Yankee Nate Swisher to add pop to a lineup that desperately needs it. This is a team that could certainly surprise in 2013 after a disastrous 68-94 finish last year.
Michael Brantley (LF) – Posted a career-high .288 average last season while putting together hitting streaks of 22 and 13 games. He also stole 12 bases and scored 63 runs.
Jason Kipnis (2B) – Despite driving in just 27 runs after the break, Kipnis finished tied for the team lead in RBIs (76) last season. He also stole 31 bases and scored 86 runs for the Indians.
Asdrubal Cabrera (SS) – Led AL shortstops last season in OPS (.765) and slugging (.425) while finishing second in homers (16).
Carlos Santana (C) – Did not handle the staff well as Indians pitchers had a 4.68 ERA last season when he was behind the plate. He is one of the premier hitting catchers in the game, hitting 18 homers with 76 RBIs in 2012.
Nick Swisher (RF) – Impressively hit 13 of his 24 homers last season outside of Yankee stadium. He also hit .272 while finishing with 93 RBIs last year. Swisher adds life to the clubhouse as well.
Mark Reynolds (1B) – Hit just three of his 23 homers against left-handed pitchers last year. Reynolds also hit .221 while striking out 159 times in Baltimore last season.
Lonnie Chisenhall (3B) – Returned from a broken right wrist to hit .257 over his final 19 games last season. The No. 1 pick in 2008 will finally get his chance to be a full-time starter at the hot corner in Cleveland.
Mike Aviles (DH) – Played 128 games at shortstop last season for the Red Sox while hitting .260 with 60 RBIs. He’ll have to fend off Jason Giambi and Yan Gomes for at-bats in the DH spot.
Drew Stubbs (CF) – This could prove to be one of the best additions of the offseason for the Indians. While he has averaged a strikeout every three at-bats over the past two seasons, Stubbs can do it all. He scored 75 runs while hitting 14 homers and stealing 30 bases in Cincinnati last season.
Ubaldo Jimenez (RHP) – His 17 losses last year were the most by a Tribe pitcher since Tom Dandiotti lost 18 in 1987. Jimenez finished 9-17 with a 5.40 ERA over 31 starts last season and continues to be a disappointment after being traded from Colorado a few years back.
Justin Masterson (RHP) – Allowed six or more earned runs in eight of his 34 starts last year. Masterson finished 11-15 with a 4.93 ERA in 2012 a year after going 12-10 with a 3.21 ERA.
Brett Myers (RHP) – Signed a one-year, $7 million deal this offseason to become a starter in Cleveland. Myers made 70 relief appearances last year between Chicago and Houston, but he’s been a starter most of his career.
Carlos Carrasco (RHP) – Has gone 10-15 with a 4.88 ERA over 33 starts throughout his career. He’ll battle Zach McCallister (110 K’s last year) and Trevor Bauer (12-2, 157 Ks in AAA & AA last year) for a spot in the rotation.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (RHP) – Will never match his production from 2008 in which he went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA under Terry Francono in Boston. Matsuzaka just hasn’t been able to stay healthy but could prove to be a bargain if he can avoid injuries in 2013.
Chris Perez (RHP) – He’s 41-for-45 in one-run save opportunities dating back to August of 2010. Perez went 0-4 with a 3.59 ERA while saving 39 games last year. Setting him up will be the reliable duo of Vinnie Pestano (3-3, 2.57 ERA) and Joe Smith (7-4, 2.96 ERA). Pestano allowed just 53 hits while striking out 76 batters over 70 innings last season.
3rd Place AL Central & UNDER 77.5 Wins – I believe the Indians have the potential to be one of the biggest sleepers in the league this season. They have an underrated line-up that is very solid from 1-5 in Brantley, Kipnis, Cabrera, Santana and Swisher. There are some question marks from 6-9, but Reynolds and Stubbs could prove to be huge offseason acquisitions if they live up to their potential. Holding the Indians back from winning the AL Central will be a rotation that has question marks from 1-5. Having Masterson, Jimenez and Myers as your top three is not a formula for consistent success. This is a rotation that lost the most games (76) in the AL last year and it will be the Achilles heel once again.
|2013 Cleveland Indians Odds|
|Total Regular Season Wins||O77.5 (-120)|