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5 Breakout Candidates for the 2015 Tribe

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Jason Kipnis
2014: .240 / .310 / .330 / 6 HR
STEAMER: .253 / .328 / .382 / 13 HR
ZIPS: .256 / .330 / .388 / 13 HR

Kipnis entered the 2014 season as not only a major part of a promising young core, but also one of the most recognizable faces of the franchise. A breakout player in 2013, his 2014 campaign saw a massive decline in production on the field. Off-the-field, Kipnis was dealing not only with injuries, but also the departure of his best wingman in Vinnie Pestano and the pressure of Kevin Love’s arrival on the Cleveland Playboy Scene. Kipnis needs to regain his 2013 form if he hopes to continue his quest of trolling for phone numbers from drunken coeds on West 6th. He realizes "I had a really sweet 2013" won't cut it with most ladies in Cleveland's party scene and early returns of "I know Michael Brantley" haven't resulted in the numbers he'd like.

Trevor Bauer
2014: 5-8 4.18 ERA 1.38 WHIP
STEAMER: 10-11 4.45 ERA 1.38 WHIP
ZIPS: 8-9 4.29 ERA 1.40 WHIP

Bauer, the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, has been an enigmatic character in his short time with the Indians. Sporting top-shelf stuff, his approach and ability to be coached have been questioned throughout his professional career. Off-the-field incidents include recording rap tracks and personally building a drone most recently seen flying over the Indians practice facility in Goodyear, ARI. Bauer’s somewhat peculiar personality has also been a controversial topic on Twitter; with many fans lashing out at him for both performance and attitude. Having proven himself as belonging in the big-leagues, Bauer will spend the 2015 season attempting to make the leap to top-of-the-rotation starter. Team officials are quietly expecting big things, as Bauer spent the offseason building not only his drone, but also a machine designed to collect fan hate and turn it into consumable energy. Bauer hopes this new Tweet-fueled rage-ahol will provide an extra 200-300% on his fastball. The true test will be pitching coach Mickey Calloway’s ability to harness to additional energy for good as opposed to evil. Expect Bauer to make headlines a few more times in Spring Training as he collects enough hatred to sustain through a long season.

Carlos Carrasco
2014: 8-7 2.55 ERA .985 WHIP
STEAMER: 11-9 3.53 ERA 1.20 WHIP
ZIPS: 6-6 3.71 ERA 1.24 WHIP

Carrasco’s season may be less a breakout for him as an individual as much as his impact on those around him. Coming to the Indians as part of the Cliff Lee trade, Carrasco showed his potential in 2011 with a 3.54 ERA over his first 15 starts. Elbow trouble derailed his season and eventually led to Tommy John surgery. Carrasco struggled to recover his prior success before moving to the bullpen in 2014 and posting a 2.30 ERA over 43 innings. He sustained that success in a move back to the rotation posting a 1.30 ERA over ten starts in the second half. Beyond his pitching prowess, Carrasco provides the “enforcer” the Indians have lacked since the right-handed scary monster Shelley Duncan left following the 2012 season. Carrasco’s 97 mile-per-hour fastball with head-seeking action provides plenty of intimidation as opposing teams will be forced to make tough decisions such as “Do I want to try to get a hit, or do I want to die tonight.” In a tough AL Central race, these are the types of advantages that can swing the entire division.

Lonnie Chisenhall
2014: .280 / .343 / .427 / 13 HR
STEAMER: .263 / .317 / .429 / 15 HR
ZIPS: .271 / .325 / .429 / 14 HR

Chisenhall had a monster first-half in 2014 before tailing off down the stretch. A top prospect throughout his time in the Indians’ minor league system, the team hopes 2015 is the year Chisenahll is able to make the leap to being a more consistent offense-focused 3B. Entering his age 26 season and having tasted success in the front-half of 2014, Chisenhall cites his biggest motivation for 2015 being “known for something other than the name Lonnie. It’s awful. My 7th grade girlfriend broke up with me over this name. Please call me Chiz or literally anything else instead.” Various members of the Indians’ front office have given Chisenhall 2015 goals of a .260 batting average, 15 homeruns, and “Lonnie” making the top 300 list of new baby names in Cleveland.

Nick Swisher
2014: .208 / .278 / .331 / 8 HR
STEAMER: .233 / .319 / .382 / 13 HR
ZIPS: .229 / .316 / .386 / 14 HR

With the recent news that Swisher isn’t deceased, expectations for his 2015 season have ticked up slightly. After signing a large contract with the Indians prior to the 2013 season, Swisher saw a decline in his overall numbers but still helped propel the Indians to the Wild Card play-in game by hitting seven homeruns in September and October. The following season, Swisher battled injuries and a prolonged slump before finally having season-ending surgery on both knees. Having been a model of consistency in his career – both in terms of health (145+ games played in 8 consecutive seasons prior to 2014) and performance (only two seasons below .800 OPS in prior eight seasons to 2014) - Swisher is a prime candidate for a bounce-back season. The Indians hope that a return to form will help fans shift their criticisms and heckling to members of other teams, instead of the hometown Indians. Mark Shapiro was quoted as saying, “Hopefully in 2015, Nick Swisher teaches Cleveland how to love again.”
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