68-94, 4th in the AL Central
After a better than expected 2011, the Indians fell back to Earth and struggled to avoid the cellar of one of baseball’s worst divisions. They’re making improvements this winter, but they’re still struggling to forget the last year at Progressive Field.
The 2012 Indians features a really nice group of complimentary players on offense, but they had no one to compliment. The star power was missing. Carlos Santana (3.4 WAR), Jason Kipnis (3.1), Asdrubal Cabrera (2.9), Michael Brantley (2.7), and Shin Soo Choo (2.6) all had good seasons, but five solid players isn’t usually enough to make noise. No one else was worth even 1.0 WAR in 2012.
Justin Masterson (2.3) regressed in 2012, which wouldn’t be such a big deal if he wasn’t the Indians’ best pitcher. No one else hit 2.0 WAR. Only Zach McAllister and Vinnie Pestano even topped 1.0 WAR. The pitching was just bad.
But the club had made some moves this winter to change that. They added Nick Swisher on a 4/56 deal and traded the last year of Choo for Trevor Bauer plus others. They signed Brett Myers (who is a solid pitcher when he isn’t committing crimes) and Mark Reynolds to one year deals.
The Indians made good moves this winter, but they only added complimentary pieces. The team is still short on star power. I like what they can do in the back half of the lineup, but they just don’t have the firepower to match the Tigers in the top half. And they definitely don’t have the pitching.
It’s hard to imagine the Tribe contending in 2013 with the roster looking the way it does, but I do think they are one of those teams who are just good enough that if they have Baltimore style luck, they have a shot to at least make it interesting.
2012 Grade: F
Early 2013 Projection: 72-90