Here are some projections and predictions for our 2013 Cleveland Indians…
Michael Bourn: The only stat I really care about with Bourn will be On-Base Percentage. If he can keep it around .380 or so, he’ll help this lineup significantly with his speed on the base paths. Prediction: .265 Avg, 7 HR, 42 SB, .330 OBP
Asdrubal Cabrera: He’s been a first-half All-Star and a second half chump the last few seasons. I suspect he’ll be more consistent this year. Prediction: .275 Avg, 18 HR, 55 RBI
Jason Kipnis: I love Kipnis, but he had a horrible second half last year and it seemed to carry over into spring training, so there is certainly some reason for concern. Prediction: .275 Avg, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 20 SB
Nick Swisher: Swish’s numbers have been very consistent over the last five seasons, but I expect them to dip slightly given his new home ballpark and lineup protection. Prediction: .260 Avg, 21 HR, 75 RBI
Carlos Santana: I’ve given up on Santana ever hitting for average like we thought he would, but he has some pop. Prediction: .235 Avg, 22 HR, 60 RBI
Mark Reynolds: I’m not sure Reynolds will make it through the season as a regular in the lineup. He strikes out a ton, and if he doesn’t hit a bunch of bombs he’ll become a real liability in the lineup. Prediction: .210 Avg, 12 HR, 35 RBI
Michael Brantley: Dr. Smooth had a great spring. I think his upside is limited, but he’s a decent player and I don’t believe a drop in the lineup will affect him any. Prediction: .280 Avg, 10 HR, 20 SB
Lonnie Chisenhall: I was thrilled when they traded Hanahan and decided to give the job to the Chiz Kid. They should have done it last year. He had a terrific spring. Prediction: .280 Avg, 21 HR, 70 RBI and a move up in the order.
Drew Stubbs: In three seasons as a full-time player, his batting average, on-base percentage, home runs and RBI have decreased each season. I’m not sure if a change in leagues will help and he might force Swisher into playing RF full-time. Prediction: .220 Avg, 10 HR, 25 RBI, 10 SB
Justin Masterson: I don’t believe Masterson is as good as he was in 2011 or as bad as he was in 2012. He’ll revert back to what he is– a solid starter who is by no means an ace. Prediction: 13-12, 4.25 ERA
Ubaldo Jiminez: We can only hope for a Cliff Lee-type of career turnaround. I don’t see it from Scrubaldo, though. Prediction: 5-11, 5.50 ERA and a demotion from the rotation.
Brett Myers: He got lit up this spring, but he’s a solid pro and should be OK. Prediction: 11-11, 4.50 ERA
Zach McAllister: He had a good run last season and I think he’ll be consistent but not great. Prediction: 11-9, 4.25 ERA
Scott Kazmir: I liked that the Indians kicked the tires on Kazmir because there is some upside here and he’s LEFT HANDED. I hope his career rebounds, but the odds are against it. Prediction: 5-9, 5.00 ERA
Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco: I believe both of these guys will make a significant number of starts this season because it is likely that at least two of the starters will either get hurt or pitch their way out of the rotation. I’m high on both, and if there’s any hope for the next few seasons, it’s because of these two.
The Bullpen Mafia was good last season and should be good again, but with the pen you never really know what you might get from year to year. I put the odds of Vinnie Pestano taking over the closer role from Chris Perez at 50/50. I hope that doesn’t happen, but while Perez has gotten the job done in his career, I’m not sure he has the stuff to be a consistently good closer.
This is one of the most improved areas of the team. The outfield defense, which was one of the worst in the league last year, will cover as much ground as anyone with the addition of Bourn and Stubbs. The infield defense might not quite be as good with the loss of Hanahan and Kotchman, but it won’t be bad, either.
I’m still pinching myself to see if Terry Francona actually did come here to manage. I would be fine if they signed him to a 10-year deal today. If the Indians lose, it won’t be because he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Two key players I’ll be watching closely to see if the coaches can help are Kipnis and Jiminez.
2013 Season Prediction: The Indians will be a better team than they’ve been since 2007. They’ve added some speed and power to a lineup that has had neither for a long time. The base running and defense will be much improved as well. However, there are just way too many issues in the rotation to expect a breakout year of 90-plus wins. If the team does manage to get some solid starting pitching (which I suspect would have to come from Carrasco and Bauer later in the season) the Tribe will challenge for a division title or wild card. Unfortunately, I see too many “ifs” to expect a contender this season. I do expect an entertaining and encouraging 83-79 season, though. Roll Tribe.