Over the course of 30 days (or so) I will be previewing all 30 MLB teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2015 season. This post is previewing the Cleveland Indians.
The Indians finished last season in third place in the American League Central, behind the Tigers and Royals. They’re going to rely on pretty much the same roster they had last year to try to move up the standings and possibly make the playoffs in 2015. The main acquisition the Indians made in the offseason was getting OF Brandon Moss from the A’s.
Last year’s team was the definition of an average offense — the team’s batting average and OPS both tied the league average at .253 and .706, respectively. Their 142 home runs and 4.13 runs per game were slightly below the league average. The pitching staff’s 3.56 ERA was tied for fifth best in the American League, led by Cy Young-winning SP Corey Kluber, whose 2.44 ERA ranked third in the AL.
The addition of Moss should increase the team’s home-run production, but his .248 career ERA probably won’t give the Indians a big boost in terms of getting on base. The Indians need to get better seasons out of 1B Carlos Santana and 2B Jason Kipnis, both of whom hit well below their career averages last year, they may have a couple more wins to last season’s 85 victories. On the pitching side, it’ll be tough for Kluber to duplicate last season’s performance, but even if he regresses a little and comes close to 2014’s numbers, that’ll still give the Indians a solid No. 1 starter. The rest of the rotation will have to improve upon last season’s numbers — SPs Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar each had an ERA over 4.00 — to make a real push to get to the top of the division.
The Indians finished 2014 in third place in the division and I think that’s where they’ll end up again. I just don’t think they’ve done enough this winter to catch up to the Tigers and Royals. And with a questionable rotation behind Kluber, I don’t see them improving much upon last year’s 85 wins, which I don’t think will be enough to win either the division or a wild card.