MLB Team News & Rumors: Cleveland

Baseball > Teams > Indians > Hitters

Cleveland Indians

Our expert from,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.

Cleveland Indians Team Projection

Last year, Cleveland made the playoffs for the first time since 2007. It was only their 2nd playoff appearance in the last 12 seasons. They improved 24 games from the previous season. Offensively, the Indians improved by 78 runs, finishing 4th in the AL in runs (745). The key to their success was the improvement of their pitching staff. Cleveland finished 7th in the AL in ERA (3.82 - last in 2012 {4.78 ERA}). Their pitching staff allowed the 2nd lowest amount of HR's in the AL (147) and were 2nd in the league in K's (1379). Cleveland only added a couple of minor free agents - OF David Murphy, 1B David Cooper, IF David Adams, and RP John Axford. The Indians lost Ubaldo Jimenez to free agency (also SP Scott Kazmir and OF Jason Kubel). Their offense looks league average, unless C Carlos Santana makes a step forward. The starting staff will most likely take a step back from last year. SP Danny Salazar has upside, but the rest of their starters have downside risk. Axford is expected to take over as closer, but Vinny Pestano may push him for the job.

1. OF Michael Bourn

Michael Bourn fantasy baseball

Bourn continues to have a skill set not conducive to being a leadoff hitter. His K rate (23%) was a career high and his walk rate (7.0%) has been weak in 2 of the last 3 seasons. Last year, his speed took a big step backwards. Bourn suffered a finger injury in mid April, which cost him 3 weeks. Michael suffered a groin injury on the last day of the regular season, which required surgery in mid October. His value is built on his speed. Last year, he ran less and his success rate (65.7%) was a career low. Bourn has a huge GB rate (56.5%), which works well with his speed. His FB rate (23.8%) gives him no upside in power. Michael is expected to be ready for the start of the season. He has upside in speed, but his K rate may push him lower in the batting order at some point.

2. SS Asdrubal Cabrera

Asdrubal Cabrera fantasy baseball

Cabrera turned in another disappointing season. His K rate (20.3%) was a career high and his walk rate (6.2%) has declined over the last 2 seasons (it is also below the league average). He missed 3 weeks in June with a quad injury. His batting average was a career low, but he had a high LD rate (23%) and his FB rate (40.7%) was a career high. It appears he tried to drive the ball more. Asdrubal has missed 152 games over the last 5 seasons. He has 18 to 20 HR power if he can get 600+ at bats. His speed has shown upside twice during his career. Furthermore, his success rate (72%) over the last 2 seasons is strong enough where he could have double digits steal upside. Cabrera is a solid shortstop, but he really isn't an edge, so a fantasy player has to be careful not to overvalue him. I'd draft him thinking a neutral batting average with a 15/10 skill set and hope for upside.

3. 2B Jason Kipnis

Jason Kipnis fantasy baseball

Kipnis almost repeated his 2012 season. He set a career high in HR's (17) and RBI (84). However, his K rate (21.7%) regressed from his 2012 season (16.2%). He was able to hit for a higher average though and his walk rate (11.6%) was also a career high. Jason was very good against LH pitching (.308), which was a step up from 2012 (.215). Kipnis played his best ball before the All Star break (.301 with 13 HR's and 57 RBI). For the 2nd straight season, his production has dropped off over the 2nd half of the year. Jason made a step forward with runners on base (18% RBI rate). His LD rate (24.7%) was a career high. Also, his FB rate (32.2%) has been very low during his major league career, which hurts his upside in power. Kipnis has back to back 30 SB seasons on his resume. I like his upside, but he may have some downside in batting average. If he can repeat his 2012 approach at the plate with his 2013 success against LH pitching, we might have a 20/30 skill set with .300 upside in batting average. I see him as the most valuable 2nd baseman in 2014.

4. C Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana fantasy baseball

It's rare to find a catcher that will play 150+ plus games. Over the last 3 seasons, Carlos has averaged almost 151 games and 533 at bats. His added value is built on his ability to play first base, plus he gets to play a high % of games at DH. Santana set a career high in hits (145), doubles (39), and batting average (.268). HIs walk rate (14.5%) has been elite in every season in the majors, while his K rate (17.1%) is slightly better than the league average. Carlos has been a below average run producer during his career (14%). He has 20 HR power, but fantasy players thought he would push toward 30 HR's after his 2011 season (27 HR's). His batting average continues to fall short of expectations based on his approach at the plate. His lack of success in BA is due to his poor hitting against RH pitching (.239 in his career - .251 in 2013). His approach is much stronger against LH pitching (.285) with more walks (103) than K's (93). Santana's FB rate (35.7%) has declined over the past 2 seasons. Overall, Carlos has a chance to be an edge at catcher due to his plus at bats. He hits in the right part of the batting order, but needs to be a better hitter with runners on base. His limited days behind the plate gives him a much higher chance of staying healthy. I'd loved to say he has a .300 30/100 skill set, but his 2 big weaknessees (RH pitching and RBI rate) would need a huge step forward. Solid option at catcher, but he could be beat by multiple other catchers this year. Santana has been working out in winter ball at 3B in an effort to get more at bats for Yan Gomes behind the plate.

5. 1B Nick Swisher

Nick Swisher fantasy baseball

Swisher had a tough time driving in runs last year (12% RBI rate), which led to him being moved to 2nd in the batting order for half of the season. Nick has hit 20+ HR's in 9 straight seasons. His K rate (21.8%) was slightly lower than his 2012 season (22.6%), but it was in line with his career resume (21.4%). His walk rate (12.2%) remains in a good area. Overall, his regression in batting average was due to his struggles against RH pitching (.220). Swisher battled a left shoulder injury for most of the season. He had the most troubles with his shoulder in June (.160). Nick is a solid source for power with batting average risk. His batting average and run production should move back in the right direction in 2014 with a healthier left shoulder. Swisher has a .265 25/80 skill set.

6. OF Michael Brantley

Michael Brantley fantasy baseball

Brantley didn't have a lot of value in 10 or 12 team leagues, but he was a very good backend option in 15 team leagues. He set a career high in at bats (556), runs (66), HR's (10), RBI (73), and SB's (17). Michael did a very good job with runners on base (17% RBI rate). His K rate (11%) was a career best, but his lack of walks (6.6% BB rate) hurts his chances of batting lead off. Most of his power was delivered against RH pitching (9), but he did handle himself well against lefties (.276). Brantley lost his HR stroke after the All Star break (3 HR's in 223 at bats). He only hit 1 HR on the road in 282 at bats. Michael stole 46 bases during his best season in the minors. His low FB rate (29.8%) limits his upside in power, but Brantley has shown growth during each season in the majors. His low K rate should lead to higher upside in batting average. However, he needs to steal a few more bases to make a fantasy impact in 2014. I like his progression and he may pop this year as he reaches his prime. I think he is a better option to bat lead off for Cleveland. Possible .300 with 15 HR's and 30 SB's.

7. DH Yan Gomes

Yan Gomes fantasy baseball

Gomes delivered nice backend stats from the catcher position, but his success may be overrated as a full time player. He hit .299 with 5 HR's and 18 RBI in 177 at bats over the last 3 months of the year. His season projects to 77 runs, 19 HR's, and 65 RBI if he had 500 at bats. Solid production for a catcher, but he won't push Santana to another position full time. His K rate (20.8%) was much better than his 2012 season in limited at bats (28.8%). His walk rate (5.6%) is short. Gomes hit .287 in 1111 career minor league at bats with 37 HR's and 208 RBI. Yan hit very well against lefties (.327) in 2013 and held his own against righties (.275). Gomes should improve this year with more at bats. His power has upside, but he needs to become a better hitter with runners on base. He'll split time at catcher, but he can't improve without getting at bats at another position. Upside C2 in deep leagues with 400 at bats. Limited value in 10 and 12 leagues.

8. OF David Murphy

David Murphy fantasy baseball

Murphy had a chance at regular at bats early in the season, but never stepped up. He hit under .230 with less than 10 RBI in 5 of 6 months. His K rate (12.4%) was a career low, while his batting average when he made contact dropped by 100+ points in one season. Typically, hitters will stay in a much tighter range. Murphy signed a 2 year, $12 million contract with the Indians in November. He struggled against both RH (.219) and LH (.223) pitching, but hit 12 of his 13 HR's against righties. David is a career .280 hitter against right handed pitching, so he should play at least 2/3 of the season. Murphy doesn't have a great major league resume, but he is much better than he was last season. Maybe he had an underlying injury. He has low double digit power and speed and tends to play better late in the year. He has no value on draft day.

9. 3B Lonnie Chisenhall

Lonnie Chisenhall fantasy baseball

Chisenhall struggled early in the season (.213 with 3 HR's and 11 RBI) which led to him being sent back to the minors. He handled himself well at AAA (.390 with 6 HR's and 26 RBI in 105 at bats), and was called back up in June. However, he was less than mediocre in his last 185 at bats (.243 with 8 HR's and 25 RBI). Lonnie's struggles against LH pitching (.111) led to a platoon role at 3B. He is only hitting .244 in 643 career major league at bats with 23 HR's and 74 RBI. His K rate (18.2%) is about the major league average, but he barely takes any walks (5.2%). Chisenhall has enough power to hit 20 HR's with 550 at bats, but his inability to hit lefties will limit his chances in 2014. Cleveland's willingness to let Santana play 3rd in winter ball can't be a good sign for Lonnie this year. No fantasy value in mixed leagues. The best we can hope for is a 15/60 season with a neutral batting average. Chisenhall has to solve left handed pitching before he can make a step forward.

10. 1B David Cooper

He missed most of last season due to a back injury and only played 51 games in the minors. David became a free agent over the summer and was signed to a minor league contact by Cleveland last fall. He is a career .301 hitter with 54 HR's and 349 RBI in 2023 at bats in the minors. Cooper will compete for a bench role.

11. IF David Adams

The Yankees gave him 140 at bats in the majors last year. He hit only.193 with 2 HR's and 13 RBI. His K rate (28.3%) is way to high. The Indians signed him in the offseason for infield depth. He was a career .291 hitter in the minors with no power or speed.

12. IF Mike Aviles

His batting average has been short in 3 straight seasons. Mike has double digit power and speed with full time at bats. This year, he'll be the backup middle infielder, plus he could get some at bats against lefties at 3B.

13. OF Ryan Raburn

After struggling in 2012, Ryan bounced back for a solid season off the bench for Cleveland. He has 15 HR power as a part time player. I expect him to platoon with David Murphy. His K rate (24.2%) remains high, so his batting average has downside.

14. OF Jeff Francoeur

The Indians signed him to a minor league contract in January. Jeff has really struggled over the last 2 seasons (.226 with 19 HR's and 66 RBI in 806 at bats). Low upside player even if he makes the major league club.


| Super Bowl XLIX Preview |

| X-Factor: Brandon LaFell |

| Managing Pitchers |

| Tanking Categories |

| Draft Types |

| League Settings |

| Average Draft Position |

| Fantasy Baseball Prep |

| Value of D. Salazar |

| Development vs. Regression |

| Position Scarcity |

| Conf. Championhip Recap |