Cleveland Indians Team Preview 2017

For a fleeting moment it felt as if the Cleveland Indians had won the World Series when journey man Rajai Davis two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth brought the Indians back from the brink of elimination. Of course Davis’ blast had merely tied the game at 6-6 and bought the team and its fans some time. The game was still tied when it started to rain after the bottom of the ninth and for a while it felt like the two longest World Series championship droughts would go on infinitely.

Perhaps the rain was a gift from the baseball gods, a stay of execution for both teams extending a wonderful World Series that seemingly didn’t want to end. When play resumed in the top of 10th the Cubs rallied for two runs to take to the lead and the Indians came up one run short in the bottom of the 10th.

It was a remarkable run for the Indians, who cruised through the playoffs without the services of two of the team’s best pitchers and came within a run from winning the Series. Like the 2014 and 2015 Royals, you have to like Cleveland’s chances to repeat as AL champions.

With the exception of a couple of veteran departures including Game Seven hero Davis and first baseman/DH Mike Napoli, who seems to win everywhere he goes, the young core nucleus of the Indians remains intact. The addition of slugger Edwin Encarnacion, and the return of outfielder Michael Brantley should make the losses easier to absorb.

In his first full season shortstop Francisco Lindor emerged as one of the game’s brightest young stars, hitting .301 with 15 home runs and 78 RBI. He was named to the first of what should be many All-Star teams and won the Gold Glove Award at shortstop. Lindor was flanked in infield by two-time All-Star Jason Kipnis at second base and surprising Jose Ramirez who replaced Juan Uribe at third base and hit .312 with 11 home runs and 76 RBI.

Corey Kluber led a Cleveland pitching staff that gave up the second fewest runs in the American League, going 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA. Carlos Carasco (3.32) and Danny Salazar (3.87) both won 11 games in 25 starts before suffering season ending injuries. Salazar left the rotation with a forearm injury on September 9th and Carasco suffered a fractured right hand after being hit with a line drive against the Tigers on September 17th. Both are ready to resume their spots in the rotation.

The late season addition of reliever Andrew Miller, proved invaluable going 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 29 innings down the stretch and 11.2 shutout innings in the ALDS and Championship Series.

Cleveland Indians Prospects to Watch

Outfielder Bradley Zimmer hit 14 home runs with 53 RBI in 93 games at AA El Paso before a late-season call up to AAA Columbus and should make his big league debut this year.