Team Previews in a Fantasy Nutshell: Cleveland Indians
Projected Starting Lineup
C Yan Gomes—There was a time when many experts (including myself) were projecting Gomes to hit 20+ HR on a continual basis. But his last two years have been train wrecks, specifically last year when he hit a paltry .167!!!! No one hits .167!!! For that reason alone, I cannot endorse Gomes as anything more than your second catcher in two-catcher leagues.
1B Carlos Santana—Santana told Sirius XM’s Craig Misch and Jim Bowden that he expects to play a lot of outfield this season which should be a boon to those who like multiple position eligibility. Outside of that news, Santana can usually be counted on to hit 25+ HR with a batting average hovering around .250.
2B Jason Kipnis—I underrated Kipnis last year which turned out to be a huge mistake, as he became a pretty solid five category player in 2016. Is Kipnis the high average, low power player we saw on 2015 or is he the lower average, high power player we saw in 2016? I say we split it down the middle to the tune of .290 and 18 HR in 2017.
SS Francisco Lindor—Some of my favorite experts (including USA Today’s Steve Gardner) are taking Lindor in the second round of 15 team league drafts, and I have to say that I am greatly intrigued. Lindor has 15 HR/30 SB upside and should hit over .300. Moreover, there is a good chance he hits leadoff this year which might help him get even better counting stats.
3B Jose Ramirez—Ramirez is my kind of player. He gives you a little power, speed, average, and runs scored. Moreover, he usually slides in drafts to those who are looking for “bigger” names. That is just fine by me—I’ll let others take Evan Longoria in Round 5 while I take Ramirez in Round 8 or 9.
OF Michael Brantley—Can Brantley return to full health and provide the Indians with a five tool talent that we last saw a few years ago? The bigger question might be “Are you willing to take a chance on Brantley returning to health and being that same player?” If I can get Brantley as the first reserve OF in my draft I am all in; if I have to take him as my 4th OF I will pass as I look for someone without such a checkered injury history.
OF Tyler Naquin—Some players are better “real life” players than Fantasy players, and I think that Naquin epitomizes that concept. Grit and hard-work are terrific clubhouse attributes, but they don’t provide any statistics to win a Fantasy title. The interesting thing is that I think Naquin is capable of being full-time OF for the Indians if he can continue to hit RHP. I will watch him closely in the spring, hoping that his game begins to round out and he becomes more of a late round sleeper than reserve round pick.
OF Lonnie Chisenhall—The “Chisen-call” is still singularly the greatest DFS prediction in the history of SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. So while I endorse him fully as the occasional DFS play on the right occasion, I cannot endorse a low-powered, low average, poor defensive player in seasonal leagues.
DH Edwin Encarnacion—I loved this signing by the Indians as they added a player who should be a lock for 35+ HR and 100 RBIs. Encarnacion is a great second round choice in any league format.
SP Corey Kluber—Ron Shandler mentioned that he wouldn’t mind starting his Fantasy pitching staff with a guy like Corey Kluber and I couldn’t agree more. Kluber is a strikeout machine who should easily win 15+ games this season.
SP Carlos Carrasco—Can Carrasco finally stay healthy and pitch 200 innings? If he can, he might just be the steal of your draft. More than likely, he will end up frustrating Fantasy owners to the tune of 180 innings and a mid 3’s ERA. If you decide to wait on pitching, Carrasco is a great 5th round pick to use as a building block of your rotation.
SP Danny Salazar—Salazar dealt with shoulder, elbow, and forearm issue last season which prevented him from becoming one of the top starters in the league. He did return for the playoffs and showed what kind of impact he can have when he is on the mound. Will he make it through the season unscathed? “Are you feeling lucky??”
SP Josh Tomlin—Tomlin is an innings eater on a good offensive team. This means that he will have a perfectly mediocre ERA/WHIP to go along with 10-12 wins.
SP Trevor Bauer—Few people recall that Bauer was the Diamondbacks top minor league pitcher just a couple of years ago before he was sent to the Indians. He still struggles with his command and has had very little success against RHB. I think that Bauer is a super talented guy and I might be willing to throw him on my reserve squad just to see if he improves, but more than likely he will just be a DFS play for me on nights when he matches up against a weak offensive opponent.
RP Andrew Miller—Manager Terry Francona uses Miller as a true “Effector” to help the team win in pressure situations regardless of inning. He is also good for about 15-20 saves and will contribute sparkling numbers in both ERA and WHIP.
Closer Cody Allen—Miller’s presence depresses Allen’s value somewhat which might be a good thing for those Fantasy owners who hate paying top price for saves. Allen started out poorly in 2016 but eventually rectified his numbers and was a linchpin for the Indians’ success. Look for him to be the bedrock of the bullpen once more this season.