I wish it wasn’t such a trendy pick, but I think the Indians are going to be a very good team this year. Their pitching looks pretty good and their lineup lacks any significant holes outside of too many ABs for Nick Swisher. It’s a balanced roster that doesn’t have the name recognition the Tigers do, but they’re going to give the Tigers a very hard time in 2015.
Yan Gomes and Michael Brantley might be the Indians position players most capable of huge seasons, but if you look around the roster, it’s hard to find a spot that’s obviously below average. Certainly, injuries will happen, but there looks to be league average productions or better everywhere else. If anyone like Santana, Kipnis, Bourn, Moss, etc has a stand out year, everything leans forward.
The big concern might be the defense, as there are only a couple of players on the club who projected to be above average at their positions. Unfortunately for the Tigers, we know you can win with a bad defense. The Tribe also has some interesting depth options like David Murphy, Ryan Raburn, and Zach Walters, all of whom are capable of making serious contributions off the bench. And Lindor is lurking some time around midseason.
You wonder a little about the bullpen, which is anchored by Allen and Shaw. There isn’t a ton of depth, but they do have a number of starters who could shift to the pen if they need reserves.
Then there’s the rotation. Corey Kluber is an ace. Carlos Carrasco broke out in 2014. Trevor Bauer, Zach McAllister, and T.J. House fill in pretty well at the back end. But there’s also Josh Tomlin and Danny Salazar. If one of the Indians pitchers other than Kluber goes down, there’s a decent plug to fill the hole.
The Tigers are a stars and scrubs team and the Indians are more about balance. I think they’re going to be incredibly close the entire way, but as I’ll explain further later in the week, I’m going to give the edge to the Indians for the 2015 regular season. It’s neck and neck, but if any one of the good Indians players has a great season, they line up well against the Tigers for me.
- Hitter to Watch: Carlos Santana
- Pitcher to Watch: Corey Kluber
- NED Projected Record: 89-73, 1st in the AL Central
- Big Moment: Lindor shines immediately after his July callup
- Piece of Data: Indians pitchers tied for AL lead with 19.7 fWAR in 2014