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2017 IBI Preview Capsule: Lonnie Chisenhall

Lonnie Chisenhall put together arguably his best and most consistent big league season in 2016 and figures to be part of an effective right field platoon along with Brandon Guyer in the upcoming campaign. The IBI's Jake Dungan provides the latest player preview in a new capsule.

The IBI Preview Capsules are back for 2017 as Jake Dungan takes an in-depth look at all the players who could impact the Tribe in the upcoming season from the established stars to the prospects on the verge of being called up to the majors to the non-roster invites to spring training.

Lonnie Chisenhall, RF

Throws: Right -- Bats: Left -- Entering his age-28 season -- Contract: Third year of arbitration (Free agent in 2019)

2016 In Review: 2014 and 2016 stand out in Lonnie Chisenhall's career if you want to point to which were his most productive. Both have similar numbers as far as batting average, power and run production, but the reason why last season may be a cut above the rest is because of the consistency the Tribe right fielder showed throughout the entirety of the campaign. In 2014, although Chisenhall batted .280 with 13 homers, 59 RBI's and a .770 OPS overall, those numbers were inflated by an impressive first half where he batted .332 with a .915 OPS. Those numbers fell off sharply after the All-Star break where he batted just .218 with a .591 OPS. Last season, the 28-year-old batted .286 with eight homers, 57 RBI's and a .767 OPS, but his second half splits did not drop off nearly as drastically as he posted a .299 average and .819 OPS in the first half and .270 and .703 marks, respectively, in the second half. Chisenhall again proved to be better served as a platoon player, however, due to his continued struggles against left-handed pitching, which may have prompted the acquisition and subsequent contract extension of Brandon Guyer.

Versus Right-handers: Against right-handers, Chisenhall was highly productive last season batting .295 with all eight of his homers and 25 of his 30 other extra base hits coming against them. He also drove in 53 of his 57 runs with a right-handed pitcher on the mound. Terry Francona recognized more than ever in 2016 that Chisenhall was best served playing almost exclusively against right-handers as the former first-rounder only logged 52 of his 418 total plate appearances against southpaws. With the arrival of right-handed outfielder Brandon Guyer, the chances of Chisenhall accumulating even that many plate appearances against lefties seem unlikely.

Versus Left-handers: While it appeared already predetermined that Chisenhall would not be facing many left-handers in 2016, he did little to sway that decision in what little playing time he did get with a southpaw on the mound batting just .217 with a .642 OPS. Aside from one or two fluke seasons, the North Carolina native has long established this trend in his career posting a .237/.289/.368 slash line against southpaws versus a .268/.315/.424 line against their right-handed counterparts. While this reality may prevent him from living up to the expectations placed on him when he was drafted, he can still be a key part of the Indians offense, especially on a roster that complements his skills and shortcomings as the current Tribe squad does.

Defense: Chisenhall appears to have found a better home in the outfield after spending most of his professional career as a third baseman and providing, for the most part, subpar defense. In 2015, he moved to right field full time late in the season and flourished compiling an impressive 11 DRS and posting a UZR of 9.3 in just 354.1 innings. Things came back to earth a bit last season as the Tribe right fielder had only three DRS and a -2.6 UZR in nearly 900 defensive innings. He did add to his assist total from the previous season of five by racking up seven in 2016. Perhaps there was more of an adjustment process in playing a full season at a new position and having that body of work can help him improve his metrics again during the upcoming campaign. It will also be interesting to see if the team tries him at the other outfield positions, particularly center field, which he experimented with during a minor league rehab assignment last season.

Fantasy Impact: With a platoon of Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer in right field if utilized properly, on paper, the Indians could theoretically get the production of one above average corner outfielder given their extreme splits. Of course, that is betting on their current trends continuing as well as the health and production of the rest of the outfield that would keep them as platoon mates. Chisenhall will still get the lion's share of the playing time simply because most of the pitchers the Indians will likely face are right-handed. Both Steamer and Depth Charts anticipate similar production to last season with a few more home runs and a WAR of around one. If the platoon value is maximized, however, those totals could very well be higher.

Summary: Lonnie Chisenhall pretty much is who he is at this point. He can be productive offensively, but his most likely long term role at this point is a platoon player, or even a bench player. The one area of his game that can still be expanded, however, is his versatility. As mentioned before, he has seen time in center field here and there and could potentially become a fourth outfielder type if he proves to be capable of handling multiple positions. For now, though, he is the primary right fielder for the Indians and, when paired with Guyer, we'll see if he can continue to capitalize on the platoon advantages. The two of them together are yet another reason why it will be tough to play matchup against this Tribe lineup in 2017.

Check out our other 2017 Preview Capsules here:

Jake Dungan is the Managing Editor for IBI and a podcast host on the Smoke Signals Network. Email him at jdungan@indiansbaseballinsider.com or follow him on Twitter @JakeDBaseball.


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