The Cleveland Indians are the class of the American League Central. They put their 2017 team in the record books with a blistering 22 game wining streak in the second half. Despite a key departure (Carlos Santana), the target is squarely on their backs in their division. This team has the pieces to make another World Series run, but can they win a series clincher, since they’re 0 for their last 6 opportunities.
What Happened Last Year?
The Indians opened the year not just as favorites to win the American League Central, but to return to the World Series as American League champs. They replaced departed 1B/DH Mike Napoli with former Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion. He would hit 38 home runs and had 107 RBIs in his debut season alongside Lake Erie. All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor enjoyed a massive power year, smashing 33 dongs and driving in 89 runs. Second baseman Jose Ramirez was an MVP contender, slashing .313/.374/.526 and hitting 29 home runs.
On the mound, Corey Kluber claimed his second career Cy Young award after a stellar campaign where he fashioned an 18-4 record and a 2.25 ERA. He also had a WHIP of 0.87 and 11.7 K/9. Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco bolstered the Indians’ rotation. Alas, the Indians were upset by Wild Card winners the New York Yankees after grabbing a 2-0 series lead in the ALDS. The 22 game win streak was amazing and historic, but their season ended in bitter disappointment.
Subtractions: 1B/DH Carlos Santana, LHP Boone Logan
Additions: 1B Yonder Alonso
Free Agents: OF Jay Bruce
What do They Need?
The Indians’ roster has few holes, if any. Another depth starter would be welcome, but it’s not a desperate need. They have a possible chip in young outfielder Bradley Zimmer, only because Jason Kipnis played well in center field last year. But Zimmer is some kind of athlete and would be difficult to part with. If Bruce isn’t retained, this becomes a non-issue.
Prospect to Watch
Francisco Mejia, C, AAA
Mejia is a fantastic switch hitting catcher, slashing .297/.346/.490 at AAA Columbus last season. We saw him in September last season, where he went 2-13 in 11 appearances. If he shows his AAA numbers in the majors, the Indians will have to wonder what to do with Yan Gomes, who is an All-Star catcher himself. Behind the plate Mejia is a very solid defender with a plus arm.