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1 INDIANS

Author:

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP CLEVELAND

They fell short last year, but I thought they were the best team in baseball.... People are starting to realize how good Carlos Carrasco is, and he's starting to realize it too. This guy has some of the best stuff in baseball—power fastball, plus slider, plus splitter—and last year he was more confident, finally aggressive in pitching in to both sides.... Trevor Bauer's like the chef who's constantly tinkering with his recipes. His problems have been from tinkering too much. I think he's learned what works for him—the increased use of the curveball, for one thing, and I wouldn't be surprised if he takes a big step.... Danny Salazar has elite stuff, but he can't stay healthy. Why not move him to the bullpen to fill Bryan Shaw's spot? As a one-inning guy, airing it out, he could be dominant.... A healthy Michael Brantley is one of the best leftfielders in baseball, but if Yonder Alonso gets off to a bad start, they should move Brantley to first to minimize the running he has to do.... Bradley Zimmer covers so much ground in center, has a huge arm and has surprisingly big opposite-field power. He's going to be an All-Star.... There are a lot of similarities between Gary Sánchez and Francisco Mejia, with the way he generates pull-side power. He has every tool in the world to be a very good catcher.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

One of the quirks of the Indians' two-year run in the AL Central is how little value their outfielders have produced. With anchor Michael Brantley missing the better part of two years with injuries, the team has been filling with prospects (Bradley Zimmer), converted infielders (Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis) and trade pickups (Jay Bruce). The Indians declined to address the situation in the offseason, their big move being the signing of first baseman Yonder Alonso. They're committed to Brantley, Zimmer and Chisenhall. Combined, those three played just 273 games last year, and none in the postseason. The unit, when healthy, has upside. Keep an eye on those three outfielders: They're key to the Indians' third straight division title.

OVER / UNDER

94.5

The bullpen losses of Joe Smith and Bryan Shaw hurt, but the rotation and continued progression of Lindor and Ramírez keep the Tribe in the AL's upper class.

THE LINEUP

1. SHORTSTOP

Francisco Lindor

.293 BA/25 HR/17 SB

2. 2ND BASE

Jason Kipnis

.261 BA/14 HR/11 SB

3. 3RD BASE

José Ramírez

.298 BA/21 HR/22 SB

4. DH

Edwin Encarnación

.258 BA/.505 SLG/34 HR

5. LEFTFIELD

Michael Brantley

.295 BA/13 HR/12 SB

FANTASY BREAKOUT

6. CENTERFIELD

Bradley Zimmer

.238 BA/15 HR/25 SB

He has 30-SB potential, and the HR total should rise.

7. 1STBASE

Yonder Alonso

.266 BA/21 HR/3 SB

8. RIGHTFIELD

Lonnie Chisenhall

.259 BA/12 HR/4 SB

9. CATCHER

Roberto Pérez

.218 BA/.380 SLG/7 HR

THE STAFF

1. RH STARTER

Corey Kluber

16 W/1.08 WHP/10.4 K9

2. RH STARTER

Carlos Carrasco

12 W/1.16 WHP/9.6 K9

3. RH STARTER

Trevor Bauer

11 W/4.16 ERA/1.32 WHP

4. RH STARTER

Josh Tomlin

7 W/4.80 ERA/1.28 WHP

CLOSER

Cody Allen

22 SV/3.74 ERA/10.7 K9

THE SKIPPER

Terry Francona