Know Your Enemy – 2019 Cleveland Indians
91 – 71, 1st in AL Central
97 – 65, 1st in AL Central
Jake Bauers Yonder Alonso (Trade)
Carlos Santana Yandy Diaz (Trade)
Jordan Luplow Edwin Encarnacion (Trade)
Kevin Palwecki Yan Gomes (Trade)
Hanley Ramirez Cody Allen (Free Agency)
Michael Brantley (Free Agency)
Melky Cabrera (Free Agency)
Josh Donaldson (Free Agency)
Andrew Miller (Free Agency)
Mike Napoli (Free Agency)
Lonnie Chisenhall (Free Agency)
Only in the 2019 American League Central can a team with that many subtractions be favorites to win the division, running away at that. The 2018 offseason started with rumblings that the team would not only be shedding the Chief Wahoo logo but also some salary. There were rumblings that they would trade one of their top two starters, either Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. The team felt the need to shed salary after having a 134.9 opening day payroll but was not enough to get them farther in the playoffs, they shed 20 million dollars in salary in the trades, so they were able to shed salary and not (at this moment) have to move one or both of their stud aces. One would have to think that if there was some competition in this division maybe they would have worried about adding pieces, rather then have the ability to shed salary and still have a stranglehold on the division, at least for the 2019 season.
This season the Indians strength will be their starting pitching staff. Behind Kluber and Bauer are still three good pitchers, Carlos Carrasco is back after being hit by yet another comebacker, and maybe the best third starter in the American League. The last two starters to fill out the rotation are Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber. Bieber came up last season and started 19 games, he is known for his control of the zone, last season he posted 1.81 walks per nine innings and induces a ton of ground balls, which plays well in front of that defense. Their bullpen is headlined by Brad Hand, the closer they acquired from the San Diego Padres last season. They also have relievers Oliver Perez, Tyler Olsen, Dan Otero, and former starter Danny Salazar. This is a solid bullpen and I wouldn’t be surprised if they make any big moves in season it will be to add another big arm to this pen.
The infield of this team speaks for itself, I mean Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, those two names should speak for themselves, no explanation needed. The right side of the infield will be manned by Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana. Fangraphs depth charts projections have this infield projected for 16.2 wins above replacement. That’s just under two Mike Trouts. The outfield is where this team could have gone and really made a big splash and really improved this team, take them to the next level. Leonys Martin is back after a very scary injury if you could even call it that after being traded to the Indians from the Tigers last season. Carlos Gonzalez was added and Jake Bauer should get some run in left field, maybe some first base, and will cover designated hitter.
PECOTA has this team projected to win 96 games, I normally would bet the under with a number like 96 because it’s so difficult to win that many. I am going to say they will go over in this instance, thew 2018 AL Central was a historically horrible division last year, and there just hasn’t been enough improvement to think anything but Cleveland running away with the division again this season.
The division favorite Cleveland Indians round out our AL Central previews. please let us know what you think on Twitter @SidedSox. If you liked what you saw feel free to retweet us and tell some friends. We are going to do some really fun stuff with this site as the season goes on and want you to come along for the ride. Email us SoxSided@Gmail.com to ask us a question, tell us what you like or don’t, or what you would like to see our opinions on. Thanks again for reading.