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Welcome to the 2017 Razzball Team Previews! You’ll find everything you need to know about each team to get yourself ready for the upcoming fantasy baseball season. And I do mean everything, everybody. We’ve got line-ups, charts, numbers, projections, questionable questions, smarter answer, potent potables and well, that’s a lie. No potables here, but plenty of potent fantasy names brimming with potential. Now’s the time to be an eternal optimist for the next six weeks. So, we’ve got a team to preview and questions to ask. Let’s get after it!

A quick note on the format. Each preview will feature six questions to a team’s blog writer. Are there only six great fantasy questions for each team? Of course not, but THAT’S WHAT THE COMMENTS ARE FOR! So, enjoy the thoughts of another writer, the dialogue on each team, and then continue the conversation in the comments!

We have a very special guest for this post, Steven Kubitza, to provide his take on what the team has in store this season. Now enough rambling, let’s see what 2017 holds for the Cleveland Indians!

2017 Cleveland Indians Depth Chart & Projections

Starting Lineup

Pos Player AB R HR RBI SB AVG wRC+
1B Carlos Santana 537 94 26 80 6 0.253 125
2B Jason Kipnis 553 80 14 67 12 0.267 104
SS Francisco Lindor 579 80 15 75 16 0.290 110
DH Edwin Encarnacion 490 77 29 89 2 0.254 122
LF Michael Brantley 374 51 10 52 7 0.291 114
3B Jose Ramirez 514 66 10 64 19 0.287 105
RF Lonnie Chisenhall 355 43 10 46 4 0.263 94
C Yan Gomes 317 37 11 41 2 0.237 79
CF Tyler Naquin 371 47 10 47 8 0.261 96

Bench

Pos Player AB R HR RBI SB AVG wRC+
OF Brandon Guyer 250 32 6 31 4 0.266 102
C Roberto Perez 196 25 5 22 2 0.222 81
OF Abraham Almonte 104 13 2 12 3 0.257 88
IF Erik Gonzalez 66 7 1 7 2 0.252 71
IF/OF Michael Martinez 120 12 1 12 2 0.242 64
OF Austin Jackson 150 18 2 15 4 0.257 84

Rotation

Role Player W IP K ERA WHIP FIP
SP1 Corey Kluber 15 211 221 3.42 1.15 3.35
SP2 Carlos Carrasco 14 193 197 3.37 1.17 3.32
SP3 Danny Salazar 12 169 184 3.65 1.24 3.68
SP4 Trevor Bauer 8 134 120 4.29 1.36 4.32
SP5 Josh Tomlin 8 133 94 4.5 1.27 4.49

Bullpen

Role Player W SV IP K ERA WHIP
CL Cody Allen 4 18 65 80 3.25 1.18
SU Andrew Miller 4 20 65 97 2.19 0.95
SU Bryan Shaw 3 2 55 51 3.76 1.32
MID Boone Logan 2 0 45 52 3.48 1.25
MID Zach McAllister 2 0 40 41 3.66 1.22
MID Dan Otero 3 0 55 42 3.54 1.26
LR Cody Anderson 1 0 24 21 3.92 1.25

Note: Projections provided by Steamer

“And now we specifically want to get to the specifics”. Please welcome Steven Kubitza from Wahoo’s on First to answer some questions about the Cleveland Indians for the 2017 season.

Zack: Who ends the year as the closer for the Indians? Both Cody Allen and Andrew Miller are extremely capable of getting the job done in the ninth inning. Does Terry Francona stick with Allen for the entire season, or does Miller force his way into the role? Steamer –although not a perfect system – has Miller projected to  finish the season with 20 saves, while Allen with 18. For fantasy purposes, this seems like a situation owners might want to stray away from. Thoughts?

Steven: The closer role is one that won’t be defined at any point during the season. Terry Francona made it clear last season that once Andrew Miller came to town, saves would go to the pitcher with the best matchup. I want to say that Allen will get more time as the closer at the beginning of the season, but it all depends on the team the Indians are facing, and who is due up in the ninth of any given game. Fantasy players should avoid drafting either Miller or Allen if saves are the goal. Both still line up as great bullpen options, but the saves will be split between them. So if possible, draft both and corner the market.

Zack: Is Michael Brantley going to be able to play at an All-Star level again? Are you as optimistic as early draft-goers? He has an ADP 215.82 – ahead of guys like Carlos Beltran, Randal Grichuk and Max Kepler – which is late enough to take a gamble on inmost leagues. However, do you see him playing enough to even be worth adding to a standard 10-team league roster?

Steven: It is too early to tell with Brantley. Indians fans want to believe that he will be back to his All-Star ways, but it is hard to believe that until he takes live swings in a game. So for any drafts taking place from now until March, it may be risky to draft him with the hopes of him being a star again. It may take until April until his health is fully known. If one is feeling lucky, he could be a smart pick late in the draft, but the risks are still there.

Zack: Get me excited about one of the Indians’ prospects. If Brantley goes down, do we see Bradley Zimmer get called up to take a crack at the Majors? Are there any guys that could fill in if a rotation piece gets injured? What does the farm system have to offer for deeper league or dynasty league players?

Steven: The only players in the minors worth even considering in fantasy would be Bradley Zimmer. He would be the easy choice to be called up if Brantley is not ready on Opening Day, but he would not be a full-time starter with Brandon Guyer already set to play in left field. As for the rotation, Mike Clevinger is a name who could fill in for any players out of the rotation, but he was average at best in 2016. So right now, there are no prospects worth taking in a standard league. As for a dynasty league, snagging Zimmer would be a smart move for the future.

Zack: Everyone loves getting an edge. As an expert on this team, give us some insider trading. Who is someone flying under the radar that will surprise us in 2017, making them an underrated option from Cleveland?

Steven: Brandon Guyer is a player to target late in fantasy drafts. He may be seeing the field much more if Brantley is out to start the season, and already did well playing part-time in 2016. While he is a solid option regardless of Brantley’s health, fantasy players should keep an eye on Brantley’s status leading up to any drafts. If he is not fully cleared, Guyer is a player who can be a great addition at the end of a draft.

Zack: Now on the flip side, who is someone on this roster that everyone may be targeting but is an overrated option just waiting to disappoint us?

Steven: Carlos Santana is a player who may be a bit overrated on the national scene. Indians fans know him as a solid player, but his 34 home runs last season may make some not familiar with the team believe that he is a consistently strong power hitter. Santana is reliable for a high OBP and a great number of walks, but he can go in slumps and see his average fall much lower than fantasy players may be comfortable with. He is a solid option later in a draft, but he should not be the first choice at the 1B/DH spot.
Zack: Let’s time travel. At the end of 2017 what will this team’s final record be, and how will we remember their year?
Steven: The Indians are going to finish 100-62 and win the World Series. This may sound like a homer pick from a Cleveland writer, but the team is ready to take that next step after losing in 7 games last year. The AL Central is getting weaker while the Indians get stronger, so 100 wins won’t be a problem in 2017.
NOW DROP THOSE COMMENTS! Thanks, Steven, for the conversation about the Indians in 2017! Make sure to catch more of Steven’s writings at Wahoo’s on First, and keep checking back. More 2017 Team Previews to come!
   
  1. Zack Burgess

    Zack Burgess says:
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    NOTE: This was posted before the Jason Kipnis news that he will miss Opening Day due to injury. I would still draft him around the same spot as you would before, but with a pinch more caution. Look for Erik Gonzalez to fill in for Kipnis, however, he doesn’t offer much fantasy value for standard leagues.

  2. Jp says:
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    Chisenhall is what he is or is there any possibility that he shows us some improvement? I was really wanting Steven to say to keep an eye on Lonnie as opposed to Guyer. I have him cheap in a 4×4 and not sure I would keep him even at $3 pretty empty stats. Thanks Jon

    • Zack Burgess

      Zack Burgess says:
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      @Jp: He reminds me of the San Francisco Giants. Every even year, he does well. His 2016 was a lot like his 2014. His BABIP numbers were identical at .328, and he hit the ball at essentially the same rate (.280/.343/.427 in 2014 and .286/.328/.439 in 2016). I think he tops out at 12 HR/60RBI/.275AVG this year, which were pretty much the same numbers he showed last year. Brandon Guyer shows a similar value for fantasy this year with maybe a little bit more pop in his bat. $3 might be a little bit too much for Lonnie this season, but it depends who else you had for options.

  3. Raj says:
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    Thoughts on Jose Ramirez? He’s heading into his age 24 season, so it seems like he had room to develop physically in the offseason. He had 46 doubles last year, perhaps some of those are traded for home runs? Add in the steals and solid batting average, he could become a sneaky good option at third base. I’d like to hear more from anyone who has been following the Indians closely this spring.

    • Zack Burgess

      Zack Burgess says:
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      @Raj: I haven’t followed the Indians extremely closely this spring, but looking at his numbers from 2015 to 2016, I think that there is some regression to be expected in some categories. He is going to steal bases no matter what. He is projected to hit leadoff for the Indians this year which is going to help him. Cleveland ranked 4th in the MLB for stolen bases behind Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Arizona. What do those teams have in common that Cleveland doesn’t. The top three teams in stolen bases didn’t have winning records. This article breaks down why bad teams run http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/why-wil-myers-will-run/. This leads me to believe that Ramirez’s SB total will stay around the same. Cleveland enhanced their offense by signing Edwin Encarnacion, and they might want to let him drive Jose in, rather than let him run wild again. Also, his BABIP from 2015 to 2016 shows that he may have gotten lucky last year. I don’t see him hitting .312 again. He is projected to hit .287, which I would say is pretty fair. His ISO showed that he was hitting the ball harder in 2016 than 2015 (.150 vs. .121), which would explain the doubles numbers. Maybe he hits a couple more home runs this season but I don’t see a 20/20 season in 2017 for Jose. He is going to be hitting at the top of an improved offensive lineup, but his game right now doesn’t strike me as someone who is going to blow me away. He offers a consistent source of SB and possibly AVG, but I think that he is another year or two away from becoming a standout at the position.

      • Raj says:
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        Thank you for the response. Francona has mentioned putting Jose Ramirez in the 5-hole to provide protection for Encarnacion (about two weeks ago). I think he could have a bigger impact as a leadoff or 2-hole hitter so I hope that’s where he ends up. I would be happy if he ends up with .290, 15 HRs, 35 Dbls, 5 Trpls, 25 SBs, 100 runs, 60 Ribs.

  4. Blitz says:
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    There should be some clarification on Santana. He may just be a late round corner in AVG leagues, but he’s a top 10 option in OBP and OPS leagues.

    • Zack Burgess

      Zack Burgess says:
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      @Blitz: For OBP leagues, he’s a borderline top-5 option. He takes walks like it’s nobody’s business. In standard leagues, his inconsistent power and batting average limit his upside. Are you going to get 18 HRs, or are you going to get 34 HRs like last season? He is projected for 26 HRs and batting fifth in the order which will help his RBI total a ton. Thanks for the comment!

      • Blind Umps have rights too (seriously their union is that strong) says:
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        @Zack Burgess: it’s so nice you actually look at depthcharts as well for these, the last guy just would throw stuff out there from i could never really find where, just his own opinions i guess. he’d come up with stuff like “heyward is leading off” or completely remake bullpens in i guess his own image.

  5. thorbs says:
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    More of a prospect Q than anything, but have you heard anything one way or another about Brady Aiken? He was filth pre-TJ, but everything I’ve read has suggested he’s lost a few ticks and the velo hasn’t come back yet.

    • Zack Burgess

      Zack Burgess says:
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      @thorbs: Unfortunately, I’m not an MLB insider. From what I’ve read — and by looking at his stats — he’s progressing in the right direction. He’s striking guys out, even though his velocity isn’t blowing guys away. That tells me that he’s learning how to pitch, rather than just throw like some other top prospects. He might not be the “sure-thing” prospect that the Indians were hoping for, but he doesn’t need to be. Their rotation is one of the best in baseball, which gives them the luxury of not having to rush him along. I would expect him to start at Low-A and work from there. I wish I had more information on this type of information. Maybe one day! Thanks for the comment!

    • Blind Umps have rights too (seriously their union is that strong) says:
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      @thorbs: mckenzie is your man.

  6. ROTO OVERLORD says:
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    Being that Desmonds out and a 9th rd keep isnt worth it anymore, who would you choose to replace? 6×6 OPS Seager 4th rd Odor5 Duvall 15 Polanco 3 Lamb 15 Cain 12 Carrasco 6 CMart 8 Oh 15 Just 1

    Already keeping Goldy Dahl and Darvish

  7. ROTO OVERLORD says:
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    nice post BTW coming from a yankee fan, I see Cleveland BOS being a possible ALCS with CLE winning the WS

    • Zack Burgess

      Zack Burgess says:
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      @ROTO OVERLORD: Thank you! As a Red Sox fan, I hope it’s the opposite outcome! But the Indians are much improved, and their bullpen is scary in a playoff scenario.

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