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Cleveland Indians 2015 Predictions, Part 2

Slamtana (Jake Roth--USA Today Sports)
Part 1 of this feature looked at overall team record and success for 2015.  Part 2 focuses more on the individual pieces and who the EHC staff things will be storylines for this upcoming season.  We skipped the "Best Pitcher" question so that we didn't have to re-type "Corey Kluber" twelve times, and didn't include "Season MVP" because "The Tigers' Bullpen" doesn't technically play for the Tribe.

With that said - let's get on to the predictions!

BEST POSITION PLAYER

STAFF INSIGHT:

In a bit of a surprise, 2014 AL MVP candidate Michael Brantley finished third with 2 votes - behind Carlos Santana (5) and Yan Gomes Forever (4).  Even more surprising is that Zach Walters received zero votes.

 

 

 

 

 



Steve Orbanek

Carlos Santana

I love Santana. For someone who has been a model of consistency, it's amazing how much disrespect he gets in this town. Last year, we saw him stabilize the first base position, and I think that continues this year. However, I think that fact that Santana has finally settled into a position will have a strong effect on his performance at the plate as well. I suspect that this could be the year where we see "Slamtana" eclipse 30 home runs, and his average should be around the .260-.270 range. He's now had a string of four straight good Major League seasons, but I think this could be a career year for him to this point.


Michael Ondo

Carlos Santana

This will be the year that Carlos Santana plays "well". Aside from hitting 30+ HR this year he will continue to get his walks (100+ BB leading the league once more) and will hit about .280 this year which as we all know is the thing that average Cleveland fan looks at gaining him acceptance from the feathered friends.

Jim Pete

Carlos Santana

From a simple social media standpoint, who doesn't want to see what happens if Santana explodes offensively this year, while he's sporting that fantastic Twitter persona. It could be special. I don't think Santana is a special defender, but I do think he is a better offensive weapon when he doesn't have to worry about his defensive position. Consider this: in 207 games as a first baseman in his career, Santana has a .270/.389/.499 slash, with a .302 BABIP and a 150 wRC+. He was pretty much across the board last year at first, with a .295 BABIP, and a 162 wRC+. I think he takes the next step in his progression in 2015 now that he is the full time first baseman.

Nino Colla

Carlos Santana

I really think he's headed for an MVP-caliber year. He'll have protection around him and the pressure of playing a certain position will not be there.

Adam Burke

Yan Gomes, if we're talking WAR. Likely Brantley or Santana by more conventional stats.

Alan Ciammaichella

YAN GOMES.

His value on defense will help nudge him past Brantley, whose excellent D in LF just doesn't compare to excellent defense behind the plate.

Ed Carroll

I think it could be Moss if healthy. Brantley is the safe offensive bet. Yan Gomes gets love here too.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

STAFF INSIGHT:

Ed and John had some fun with this one in a way that only Ed and John could.  Zach Walters' recent oblique injury was a dark day here at EHC.

 

 

 

 

 




John Grimm

Let us proclaim the mystery of Zach Walters. Zacky Eleison. The Zach Walters Appreciation Guild rises in pious ecstasy at his excellent raw power, generally plus offensive projection, and largely-adequate up-the-middle defense. The Guild humbly awaits the day when he shall return from the outfield to redeem us by playing infield positions as required by injuries or by scheduled rest days. Let us now celebrate by watching the following inspirational text:

Ed Carroll

Since there's no way anybody on the rotation could be considered a surprise after all the preseason hype, allow me a reading from the gospel of Walters, book one: "And in the beginning, thy man had thunder, but his aim was not steady. A powerful men among weaklings, with no place for his thunder to develop into a ferocious lighting..."

Zach Walters is an afterthought now, but if he can seize an opportunity (such as an injury to one of the aforementioned four), he could be an exciting contributor to the Indians.

Jim Pete

I can see a scenario in which Salazar has stretches in which he's the best pitcher on the team. There's always a moment when it "clicks," and we saw that with regards to Kluber, really two years ago at the big league level. I think this is Salazar's turn. While everyone is watching Bauer's progress, and to some extent, Carrasco, I think we are going to see the development of a third pitch, and a command on the mound that's special. His FIP and xFIP last year suggest good things, and his improved mechanics, leg drive and release point as the season progressed suggest a guy that figured things out as he threw more innings. I think we're going to see something special.

Adam Burke

I'm going with Danny Salazar here. I'm not sure what constitutes a "surprise", but I really think he takes the next step. Another candidate in here is Brandon Moss. I don't think people realize how much of a threat he can be as a power hitter in this lineup. Progressive is a much better park than O.co Coliseum and 30 home runs is a legitimate possibility if he stays healthy.

Nino Colla

Trevor Bauer

I think he's ready to take a huge step and whether or not Carlos Carrasco continues his second-half performance into 2015, Bauer will be the King to Kluber's Ace.

Alan Ciammaichella

Nick Swisher is a competent offensive player again.

Steve Orbanek

I've always loved McAllister's mentality on the mound. Much like Kluber, he's not a hugely-emotional type. He traditionally just goes about his business. The problem is that he has become so overly reliant on his fastball, and he really does not have much of an outpitch. However, that's not going to matter now since he will almost assuredly be in the bullpen. He's out of options, so this seems like a no-brainer. We saw glimpses of it last season, and I was impressed with what I saw. Pitching in small spurts, McAllister was able to rev his fastball all the way up in the 97-98 mph range. My guess is that as the season goes on, he will find himself pitching in more and more high-leveraged situations. I also think he will succeed in the majority of those.  


Michael Ondo

House will win the 5th starters spot out of camp (assuming Floyd is healthy enough to break camp. If not the competition is over and he is in the rotation anyway) and never leaves the rotation all season. Along the way he will log 190+ innings with an ERA around 3.50 and solidify himself as a rotation stallworth for years to come.

(Oh yeah, Walters also hits 20+ HR, the ladies in Cleveland fall in love with him, and it is Grady's Ladies V2.)

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

STAFF INSIGHT:

I hope Michael Bourn didn't pull a hammy running away with this vote.  There were four guys that ended up on both the Surprise and Disappointment list - which shows just how many guys could go either way this year.

 

 

 

Steve Orbanek

Michael Bourn

Now, for two seasons in a row, it seems as if it's the same story with Bourn. "Well, he's healthy now, so he should be able to provide some speed on the bases again." At this point, any improvement would be significant. My worry is that it's less about injuries with Bourn, and just more about him and those legs running out of gas. Say what you will about him, but he has not at all looked like the player he used to be in either of his first two seasons with the Tribe. He now has a combined 33 stolen bases in those two seasons, including just 10 last year. To make matters worse, his range in center field seems to be declining, and his bat offers minimal value as well. Sadly, I do not think it's too farfetched to think that Nick Swisher could actually have a better season than Bourn this year. 


Nino Colla

Michael Bourn

I know at some point he'll get hurt and perhaps at the end will have some okay numbers, but it'll never be what the Tribe paid for him.

Alan Ciammaichella

Jose Ramirez

He was great last year when he was replacing Asdrubal, but won't hold up at SS over a full season. Fortunately, we just so happen to have a Francisco Lindor waiting in AAA who can push Ramirez to the Aviles role, where he'll be much more effective.

John Grimm

Bauer-as-disappointment was largely because I needed to pick someone, not because I'm exceedingly down on Bauer; rather, it's because of the rather wide perception that Bauer's going to take a step forward to acehood or 2-hood or good-hood or hood-hood - the hottest kind of preseason -hood take. 

The argument for Bauer as outlier is appealing; he's provably unlike almost all other players. If there were a sort of person one might pick to be an outlier based on his qualitative behaviors, it would be Bauer. Yet this seems like an argument that hasn't been thought out to its logical end. It's possible that Bauer's an outlier, certainly, but this is not something that necessarily works in Bauer's favor. After all, 'outlier' in a negative sense was one of the labels applied to Corey Kluber after 2013; Kluber, one notes, had surrendered an extremely high Line Drive rate in 2013, and batters had generally made thund'rous contact off of him. The premature idea that Kluber was an outlier was a fact hat worked against his public perception of future success until he actually won the Cy Young. Because of how well Corey Kluber performed in 2014, a case that demonstrates a particular instance of the general rule of 'don't assume outliers until 3+ years in the bigs,' I can't abide the idea that Bauer's an outlier who will tremendously surpass All Projections Everywhere - not yet.

Michael Ondo

Danny Salazar
Salazar will become the new Carrasco in this rotation mix. His name will be synonymous with inconsistency and he may become the new Cleveland whipping boy among fans allowing Nick Swisher the chance to breathe easy.

Jim Pete

Jason Kipnis struggles to regain form, and health.

I love Jason Kipnis, and I nearly put him as my biggest surprise, and pondered him for best position player, so that should let you know how finicky my thoughts are with regards the the Indians second baseman. I'll just say this: I'm worried that his style of play will always lend to long term struggles at the big league level, either with regards to health, or with consistent offense. I hope I'm wrong.

Ed Carroll 

To most fans, it will be not seeing Francisco Lindor until June at the earliest, July at the likeliest likeliest and if the team is playing well, there's a chance he's not up until September. If there's one guy in the system they're being uber-cautious with, it's Lindor, and having Jose Ramirez around makes the Indians decision to wait a lot easier.
In terms of performance, there's little chance Swisher, Bourn, Murphy and Moss all have completely healthy seasons, so one of them, if not moar, could disappoint.

Adam Burke

Lonnie Chisenhall

The mechanical tools seem to be there with a good line drive stroke, but his defense is still terrible and I have serious concerns about his plate discipline. Twelve of his 39 walks were four-pitch walks, three intentional, and I'm worried about his ability to get on base without BABIP help. We saw what happens to him with extreme batted ball luck and it inflated his perception. His .270 BABIP in the second half also included a major spike in K%. It would not shock me if Giovanny Urshela is up before Francisco Lindor this season.

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