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Cleveland Indians 2016 Predictions

Having not learned our lesson, some EHCers and some non-EHCers decided to try their hands at predicting the upcoming Cleveland Indians Season of Baseballing.  Based on last year's results, I don't think I need to preface that this as a spoiler alert in any way.

First, meet our contestants -

Jeff Nomina (@SportsNom)
Mike Hattery (@SnarkyHatman)
Jim Pete (@JimPeteEHC)
Adam Burke (@SkatingTripods)
Nino Colla (@SnarkyNino)
ED THE REVELATOR (@EdTheRevelator)
Danny Madden (@Danny_Madden)
Cole Lopez (@ColeLopez77)

The group first took a stab at the Tribe's overall record for 2016.  As you can see...we're a bunch of homers.  The group predicted an average of 89 wins.
Next, each person picked a player as a breakout candidate for the upcoming season.
Finally - everyone gave a quick rundown of their thoughts for the upcoming season.

Jeff Nomina

The Tribe did a great job filling in their weaknesses with guys we can more or less expect league-average production.  What the Tribe needs is to finally get peak seasons from their star players in the same year - Kipnis, Brantley, Santana, Gomes, Lindor - they need 3-4 out of those 5 to have big offensive years. 

Mike Hattery

While we are obsessed with the thin nature of the outfield and rightly so, this team is deep. 162 game seasons are marathons, not sprints. The Indians will have legit big league starters like Jose Ramirez and Roberto Perez on the bench. The rotation with an elite front end, is also unfathomably deep. Where, Bauer, House, and Clevinger all won't be in the rotation opening day. In a division with a bunch of teams packed close together, I will bet on the one with most depth and upside, that team is clearly the Indians. Your 2016 A.L. Central Champs.

Jim Pete

Expectations: This is a really good baseball team. I was concerned last year, because I really disliked the pieces that were put into the team. The Bourns, Swishers, Murphys and Mosses didn't seem to fit the grand scheme, and they begat Jerry Sands, which was an absolute horrid love-child. This year, the players are better statistically, both in the general sense, and the metric sense. Lindor is up with the team, and is the absolute anchor. Worrying about youth overcoming a transcendent player is ridiculous, especially with the professionals on this team, in the name of Brantley, Kipnis, Kluber, Carrasco, Napoli and Gomes. The infield is loaded, and Uribe brings every day stability. Jose Ramirez could be the best utility player in baseball, when it's all said and done. The outfield isn't special, but it fits together well, WITHOUT Brantley. With Brantley, and ultimately Chisenhall, platoon splits are special, and there is hidden offense, especially when considering the comps to last year. If the Indians had the current construct in the outfield last year, we likely would be talking about 6-8 more wins. Sounds crazy? No Bourn leading off? No thoughts of Nick Swisher? No Aviles in center? No worries of Jerry Sands? Oh, and what about the rotation? The Big Three is awesome, and Danny Salazar seems ready to claim his mantle at the TOP of this rotation. It's coming. Cody Anderson has found 2 MPH velocity, and is now pounding at the Big 4 door. The battle for #5 is a group of five guys that would start anywhere else in the Central. There are always concerns in the bullpen, but Cody Allen is one of the top three-to-five pen arms in all of baseball. I'm not crazy about Bryan Shaw, or Jeff Manship, but it's generally how I feel about the pen every year. If the Shaws, and Manships, and Chamberlains, and Oteros, and whoever else is thrown out there are just good, this is the best team in the Central, and likely, the American league. Again, there are wonderful parts to the bullpen that will shake out as the year progresses. There are young and old that will likely all produce in one form or another.

Adam Burke

All of the focus has been on the offense, but this will be a good defensive team and that's what has really held the team back over the last couple of seasons. The Indians had a 99 wRC+ last season and a 100 wRC+ in 2014. This is a better offensive team once Michael Brantley comes back than the previous two versions with guys like Marlon Byrd, Mike Napoli, and Juan Uribe. This team has that leadership that Terry Francona has practically been begging for since 2013 when Jason Giambi could occasionally lead by example. There are weaknesses, but every AL team has them. The bullpen is a little bit shaky and obviously the outfield has been talked about ad nauseum.

Look around the AL Central. The White Sox might actually be the second-best team on paper, with a good top of the rotation and a decent offensive profile. But, they aren't great defensively and don't have a lot of depth in the bullpen. Kansas City has a terrible starting rotation and a bullpen with consecutive long playoff runs to overcome. Not to mention, several position players had career years at the same time last season. Detroit's rotation is bordering on pathetic behind a guy in Jordan Zimmermann, who will regress in the AL, and Justin Verlander, who is still above average, but not the elite-level guy he was. Minnesota made a bunch of questionable starting rotation decisions, so their rotation is likely the worst in the division. Every AL team is flawed. Whoever wins the luck and variance battle will go from being an 83-game winner to an 88+-game winner. The Indians have a good baserunning team, a good fielding team, the best rotation in the American League, and enough offense to get by.

Nino Colla 

My thoughts: The Indians are going to win the World Series. Because, why not? My predictions never mean anything, so let's just go for it and pick good things, while not waffling, even though I enjoy waffles in general. Danny Salazar will win the Cy Young, Slider will swing his belly around, Yan Gomes becomes a man in the middle of the lineup, Mustard wins the Derby Cup, the Reds won't win the Ohio Cup, Carlos Santana will OBP over .400 and Lindor will bunt for a home run and then stop bunting for the rest of the year. Oh, and Trevor Bauer is the best and I still love him.

Danny Madden

I think that Cleveland is in for having one of the best defensive teams that we've seen in a long time. The front office has really prioritized defense over offense this winter, which is why we're seeing players like Juan Uribe, Mike Napoli, and Tyler Naquin on the roster. While the offense may not be as strong as some people had hoped, the Indians were smart to buff up the defense to bolster the strongest weapon they have: the rotation. Kluber, Carrasco, Salazar, Bauer and a mix of Tomlin and Anderson make for, probably, the best rotation in the American League and certainly rival the New York Mets. It's going to be a fun year, and it will be even better once we get Brantley back in this lineup.

Cole Lopez

Unlike recent years, the Indians start out hot. Not April 2011 hot, but hot enough. Corey Kluber will show once again why he's one of the best pitchers in baseball, posting an ERA below 2.60. Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes will be All Stars. Unfortunately, I think Carlos Carrasco will regress, as well as Bryan Shaw. However, fans won't mind as the Indians will be playing postseason baseball.

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So there you have it! A complete rundown of exactly what will happen this season. 


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