More PreviewsClose

Cleveland Indians

Presented by

Projected WARMarket Value

25.3 228


18.8 169


4.5 41


Projected WAR by grouping is from Fangraphs’ depth charts.
Historically each win is worth ~$9 million on the free agent market

Projected Team

  • Francisco Lindor, SS
  • Jason Kipnis, 2B
  • Jose Ramirez, 3B
  • Edwin Encarnacion, DH
  • Yonder Alonso, 1B
  • Lonnie Chisenhall, RF
  • Tyler Naquin, LF
  • Roberto Perez, C
  • Bradley Zimmer, CF
  • Corey Kluber, RHP
  • Carlos Carrasco, RHP
  • Trevor Bauer, RHP
  • Mike Clevinger, RHP
  • Josh Tomlin, RHP
  • Terry Francona

Health Check

“Outside of the Minnesota Twins, the Indians will have no opposition on their march to the playoffs. The Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, and Chicago White Sox are all in various stages of a rebuild, ranging from absolute rock bottom (the Royals) to a year or two away from competing (the White Sox). Baseball is a grind, and the Indians may have seen the effect of that grind in the playoffs the last two years. With a bit of luck, they may be able to take the pedal off the gas at times and hit the playoffs well-rested.

But that doesn’t mean it’ll be a cakewalk.

Sure, most of the AL Central is terrible. The Royals make up 20 percent of the division, and they’ll be sprinting towards the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. But the Twins could be sneaky competition. They were a playoff team last season, and without losing any key components, they’ve been scooping up quality players on discounts in this weird offseason.”

—Let’s Go Tribe

Key Player

Francisco Lindor is undoubtedly the player to watch for on the Cleveland Indians this season. There’s no mystery surrounding his ability anymore — he can mash, he can run, and he plays shortstop like few players in the league right now. Lindor, or “Mr. Smile” if you prefer self-given nicknames, showed up with a power swing in 2017 that helped him reach a career-high 33 home runs and .505 slugging percentage. No highlight reel of the 2018 season will be made without Lindor’s smile, glove, or bat showing up multiple times, you can bet on that.

—Matt Lyons, Let’s Go Tribe

Best Case

Cleveland led the American League in wins in 2017 and they’re in a division that has one other team even bothering to try, so thinking up a successful 2018 for them isn’t all that difficult. Jose Ramirez continuing to excel would be huge for Cleveland, and new first baseman Yonder Alonso might be able to rediscover some of what made him so productive at the start of last summer. Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco are still around, as is Trevor Bauer, giving Cleveland a strong front-half of their rotation, and the bullpen is still anchored by Andrew Miller and Cody Allen: another AL Central title is within sight.

Worst Case

Cleveland is probably making the postseason even if they’re significantly worse than they were a year ago, but just as it’s not difficult to picture them thriving once more, decisions from this winter make it easy to envision a much tougher road. The rotation has Mike Clevinger and Josh Tomlin in it to start the year, and if Danny Salazar’s shoulder remains a problem, that’ll be the rotation for some time. Jose Ramirez was great in 2017, but his success was also something of a surprise, and a return to the 2016 version of him that’s good but not getting MVP votes could hurt Cleveland. Yonder Alonso could be good or awful, which is the gamble every team makes when they employ him. The bullpen still has Miller and Allen, but it’s also looking thinner overall. Cleveland’s window hasn’t shut, nothing like that, but there are real concerns here that a leap forward from the Twins could magnify.