The Indians Are Significantly Better Than They Were Last Year and That's Awesome

When the Indians' disappointing 2015 came to a close, just about everyone agreed the offense needed an upgrade during the offseason.

Kipnis agreed.
I think the front office knows that. We're not far away. We've definitely got a good foundation here, we've definitely got good players and now, we could be just one piece away, one bat away, one pitcher away and I think it'll be important for us to go out and get it.

Terry Francona agreed.
We have some holes to fill. We know we have some things to do...We'd like to find a way to score some more runs.
And an offseason with more rumors than the cover of National Enquirer seemed to cement those opinions.

So, as Spring Training winds down the roster starts being written in ink - did the Indians go out and get the big bat everyone wanted?

Well, no.  They didn't.  They signed a bunch of dudes in their late 30s instead.

So it's not gonna be easy to convince you of the following -

The Indians are a significantly better team than they were last year.  

Let's look at this -

While the Napoli / Davis / Byrd / Uribe signings are hardly big, splashy moves, each of them turn what was once a negative offensive position into an average one.

Here's a look at the production the Tribe received from each position in 2015 and a look at the career numbers of the players manning those positions in 2016.
* Last 3 yr RC+ avg for the old dudes

This is a roster that suddenly has less black holes on offense that suck away production and use that energy to fuel commenters on Hoynes articles.  While hardly an offensive juggernaut, there is competency 1-9, something that couldn't be said for much of last year.

 To drive this point home, here are the departures from the 2015 squad:
And here is who is being added:
Oh - and Napoli / Byrd / Uribe combined for 55 homeruns in only 387 combined games last year.  This was a major power influx to the Indians' roster.

Defensively, a mixture of talent coming in (Naquin, Napoli, Uribe, Rajai Davis (when compared to Sands/Raburn)) and talent finding permanent homes (Chisenhall in RF, Ramirez as Super Utility, a full season from Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana burning his glove in a sacrifice to the gods of batting average) should help the team take a leap on that side of the diamond, as well.
Rdrs/yr: Number of runs above or below avg a player was worth over 1,200 innings
So did the Indians go get a big bat that would sort out their lineup and give them some consistency in the middle of their order?  No.  Not at all.

But they significantly improved their defense at 1B, SS, RF, and CF and their offense at DH, SS, 3B, CF, and outfield platoons.

It remains to be seen if this team can compete for a title - or even a division or Wild Card game - but they are a significantly deeper and better team than the one that won 81 games in 2015.

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