Club 11: Cleveland Indians
The American League Central Division has been dominated in the past couple of seasons by the Cleveland Indians, who lost to the Chicago Cubs in the 2016 World Series and the New York Yankees in the ALDS last season. The Indians are the prohibitive favorites in the AL Central again this year, and one of the four teams who are expected to have the best chance of representing the AL in the World Series in 2018.
|Baltimore||Chicago AL||Houston||Atlanta||Chicago NL||Arizona|
|New York AL||Detroit||Oakland||New York NL||Milwaukee||Los Angeles|
|Tampa Bay||Kansas City||Seattle||Philadelphia||Pittsburgh||San Diego|
|Toronto||Minnesota||Texas||Washington||St. Louis||San Francisco|
2017 Record: 102-60, lost to the Yankees in the American League Divisional Series
Acquisitions: 1B Yonder Alonso (free agent), LF Melvin Upton Jr (minors – ST invite), RP Alexi Ogando (minors – ST invite), C Ryan Hanigan (minors – ST invite), CF Rajai Davis (minors – ST invite), 1B Mike Napoli (minors – ST invite)
Departures: RP Bryan Shaw (free agent), RF Jay Bruce (free agent), RP Joe Smith (free agent), 1B Carlos Santana (free agent), OF Austin Jackson (free agent), RP Craig Breslow (free agent), RP Boone Logan (free agent)
SS Francisco Lindor
2B Jason Kipnis
3B Jose Ramirez
DH Edwin Encarnacion
LF Michael Brantley
1B Yonder Alonso
RF Lonnie Chisenhall
C Roberto Perez
CF Bradley Zimmer
SP Corey Kluber
SP Carlos Carrasco
SP Trevor Bauer
SP Mike Clevinger
SP Josh Tomlin
SP Danny Salazar* (injured, may miss Opening Day)
The Cleveland Indians have pretty much no position battles this season. The only battle might have been for the fifth spot in the rotation between Danny Salazar and Josh Tomlin, but Salazar has been injured and Tomlin is expected to take the final rotation spot. Once Salazar is healthy, Tomlin will be the most likely candidate to move to the bullpen, as he has the most experience as both a starter and as a long reliever.
Cleveland lost two important pieces of their bullpen in the offseason and replaced veteran 1B Carlos Santana with free agent Yonder Alonso, but this team still shapes up to be one of the best in baseball. The Indians have one of the best rotations in baseball, with two of the top four finishers in the AL Cy Young voting (including two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber). Their pitching staff also boasts one of the best 1-2 combinations in the bullpen in closer Cody Allen and set-up man Andrew Miller. The offense is solid, led by leadoff hitter Francisco Lindor and sluggers Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion. There are questions for this team that need to be answered, such as how will Mike Clevinger do over a full season in the rotation, and is the year Jason Kipnis had in 2017 an outlier due to his injury or the beginning of a downward spiral that he has been on the past two seasons as he has traded plate discipline for trying to add more power to his bat.
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