When I think of Cleveland, I think of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Drew Carey, and really bad sports teams. Well last season, the Cleveland Indians took a step away from that mold.
Their first playoff birth in six season could be attributed to an active 2012-13 winter in which the Indians made some significant additions bringing in a variety of players like Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, and Mark Reynolds. Unfortunately, all of their fantasy values took a major hit in Cleveland. With the exception of Jason Kipnis and a couple pleasant of surprise pitchers, there weren’t many fantasy bright spots on the Indians.
As for this offseason, aside from bringing in John Axford and David Murphy, the Cleveland Indians have been quiet to say the least. As I stated for the Toronto Blue Jays, sometimes after being very active in an offseason, it is wise for an organization to take a step back and let their players gel. If the Indians players can settle into their roles on the team, and better understand the expectations on them, then perhaps they can get back to what once made them valuable fantasy options.
Projected 2014 Indians Offense
|1. Michael Bourn||CF||31||L||588||84||5||54||33||.269|
|2. Nick Swisher||1B||33||S||538||74||23||76||1||.254|
|3. Jason Kipnis||2B||27||L||560||88||17||79||28||.270|
|4. Carlos Santana||DH||28||S||522||75||20||74||3||.254|
|5. Michael Brantley||LF||27||L||546||68||7||64||14||.277|
|6. Asdrubal Cabrera||SS||28||S||566||74||17||74||10||.259|
|7. David Murphy||RF||32||L||407||50||13||47||5||.271|
|8. Yan Gomes||C||26||R||384||48||15||48||2||.262|
|9. Lonnie Chisenhall||3B||25||L||377||44||13||44||2||.249|
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Michael Bourn, Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis, and Nick Swisher
– Kipnis: Without a doubt the safest bet for a fantasy option as you will find on this particular team. He isn’t flashy, but Jason Kipnis is a very solid contributor across the board. At 2B, that should not be taken for granted.
– Santana: After 3 full seasons, it seems that what you see is what you get with Carlos Santana. He is going to give you solid production in runs, HR, and RBI, and his batting average is at least getting better.
– Cabrera: After 2011, A-Cab had broken on the scene of Top-5 SS options. However after his last two seasons, that season seems like a VERY long time ago. With that said, I like Asdrubal as a later round SS option. Expectations are what dictate draft value before the drafts, however the true value is assessed during and at the end of the season and so if you can nab Asdrubal Cabrera well after most of the top SS options are gone, then you could have the steal of the draft.
– Bourn: Speaking of steals, what happened to Michael Bourn’s? I seriously doubt anyone who drafted Bourn was happy with his mere 28 steals, not to mention his 75 runs. Granted it was in limited time, but still, there are some very frustrated owners out there, as Bourn doesn’t exactly contribute big power stats. Let’s hope that Terry Francona can get Michael Bourn back on track, and if anyone can, Tito can as he is a player’s coach.
– Swisher: Swish took a huge drop in RBI production last season. What’s worse for Swish is that, despite his frat boy demeanor, he is an aging former fantasy stud. Nick Swisher is past his prime and is a far cry from what he once was as a fantasy player. So unless you are landing Swish after Round 20 or for $2-$3 in your drafts, then I would pass.
Projected 2014 Indians Pitching
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Justin Masterson
Although I wouldn’t mind Chris Kluber or Zach McAllister on my squad, at least as consistent streaming options, I think you should tread lightly with both of them because they just aren’t as proven and their numbers aren’t all that great. If you can mitigate the bad starts from both of those starters then you could do really well using them.
Justin Masterson is a solid fantasy options as a starter, but as with most of the Cleveland Indians, what you see is what you get. He is probably not going to find the next tier as a pitcher, so don’t expect too much from him.
More on John Axford later.
- Fantasy Star: Jason Kipnis
Star might be a bight of an over statement right now for Jason Kipnis, however if he improves on his success from last season then he can certainly be considered a budding star. I think our projections of Kipnis are on the conservative side, and if he can get to 20 homers and keep his average over .280 like last season, he should be a very valuable player out of the second base spot.
- Fantasy Bust: John Axford
Sometimes guys have it, then they lose it. This may very well be the case with John Axford. We talk a lot about risk versus reward, and sadly I think the risks on Axford outweigh the reward. Even though he had a pretty strong finish to last year, I highly doubt he will ever get back to double digit K’s per 9, which he needs to do to be a valuable fantasy closer.
- Prospect Watch: Francisco Lindor
Ever heard of him? He is not only the best prospect in the Indians system, but Francisco Lindor is undoubtedly a Top-10 prospect in all of baseball. Unfortunately, much of what makes Lindor such a highly regarded prospect—his exceptional defense—does almost nothing for us in the fantasy realm.
So why highlight a defensive prospect that may have little to no fantasy value? Because he might have enough name value to be good trade bait. If you are in a league that drafts prospects and can trade those prospects, then he might be a very nice trade chip.
- Fantasy Sleeper: Yan Gomes
On a team where what you see is what you get with pretty much all the fantasy options, sometimes it pays off to go after the unknown factor. Yan Gomes offers a some intriguing fantasy value because…
- He had double digit homers and nearly hit .300 in very limited at bats last season.
- He is a catcher.
For a more in depth look at what Gomes can actually do in a full season, click here.
- Final Thoughts:
Ultimately I like most of the Cleveland Indians’ fantasy options. I would always suggest diversifying your fantasy team, so I would only take one or maybe two of these guys on your squad. In order for hitter I would prefer Santana, Kipnis, Cabrera, Bourn, or Swisher, as far as pitchers I like Masterson, Kluber, and McAllister.
The key to building a good fantasy team lies in positional output and maximizing your draft value. If you can choose right through out a draft and get undervalued guys like the players from the Cleveland Indians, you could really be posed to challenge for your league top spot.