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2016 Team Previews: Cleveland Indians

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Throughout the long, cold offseason, I am doing team by team previews to get you ready for the 2016 fantasy baseball season. Today it's the Indians.

Carlos Carrasco might be my favorite pitcher in baseball. He should lead this Indians rotation in 2016.
Carlos Carrasco might be my favorite pitcher in baseball. He should lead this Indians rotation in 2016.
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to my 2016 fantasy team previews. I will be breaking down 2016 prospects for the relevant fantasy players on all 30 teams, one team at a time. Check back throughout the offseason for new team previews. You can catch up on old ones in my archive (here) or in the section (here). Because there are 30 teams to cover in limited time, I have to get started now, even though there will certainly be some trades that move players around and open up larger roles for existing players. Also, free agents and guys that moved midseason will be analyzed with one of the teams they played for, even though they likely (or definitely) won't be on that team in 2016 so they don't get missed. Hopefully you can bear with me on those issues and remember that these were written before those trades occurred.

I am starting at the bottom of the standings and working my way up. In each team preview, I will attempt to follow the same layout. First, there will be two tables of stats for hitters (showing stats acquired while playing for this team; traded players will be missing some stats) followed by quick analysis of the most fantasy relevant of those hitters (relevance at my discretion). After that, two tables for the pitching stats and some pitcher analysis. I will then present one breakout player (aka sleeper) and one breakdown player (or bust, if you prefer) for the team. Got it? Ok, let's get started.

Cleveland Indians

Hitters

Name Position PA HR R RBI SB CS BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
Carlos Santana 1B, 3B* 666 19 72 85 11 3 16.20% 18.30% 0.231 0.357 0.395
Brandon Moss 1B, OF 375 15 36 50 0 0 8.50% 28.30% 0.217 0.288 0.407
Jason Kipnis 2B 641 9 86 52 12 8 8.90% 16.70% 0.303 0.372 0.451
Jose Ramirez 2B, SS, 3B* 355 6 50 27 10 4 9.00% 11.00% 0.219 0.291 0.34
Giovanny Urshela 3B 288 6 25 21 0 1 6.30% 20.10% 0.225 0.279 0.33
Lonnie Chisenhall 3B, OF 362 7 38 44 4 1 6.40% 19.10% 0.246 0.294 0.372
Roberto Perez C 226 7 30 21 0 0 14.60% 28.30% 0.228 0.348 0.402
Yan Gomes C 389 12 38 45 0 0 3.30% 26.70% 0.231 0.267 0.391
Ryan Raburn OF 201 8 22 29 0 0 11.40% 21.90% 0.301 0.393 0.543
Michael Brantley OF 596 15 68 84 15 1 10.10% 8.60% 0.31 0.379 0.48
David Murphy OF 229 5 22 27 0 1 7.00% 12.70% 0.296 0.344 0.437
Abraham Almonte OF 196 5 30 20 6 0 8.20% 16.80% 0.264 0.321 0.455
Jerry Sands OF 133 4 11 19 0 0 6.80% 27.10% 0.236 0.286 0.39
Michael Bourn OF 326 0 29 19 13 5 8.90% 23.30% 0.246 0.313 0.294
Nick Swisher OF 111 2 6 8 0 0 7.20% 21.60% 0.198 0.261 0.297
Francisco Lindor SS 438 12 50 51 12 2 6.20% 15.80% 0.313 0.353 0.482
Mike Aviles SS, 3B, OF, 2B* 317 5 37 17 3 1 6.30% 12.00% 0.231 0.282 0.317

Name BABIP LD% GB% FB% HR/FB SwStr% Soft% Med% Hard% ESPN Player Rater
Carlos Santana 0.261 18.30% 44.50% 37.10% 11.90% 6.20% 21.90% 48.50% 29.60% 3.85
Brandon Moss 0.265 20.50% 31.20% 48.30% 13.30% 14.10% 15.80% 46.20% 38.00% 0.49
Jason Kipnis 0.356 26.80% 45.00% 28.10% 6.90% 6.90% 15.40% 54.70% 29.90% 6.17
Jose Ramirez 0.232 16.20% 47.60% 36.20% 6.10% 4.20% 19.40% 56.90% 23.70% -0.27
Giovanny Urshela 0.266 24.40% 41.60% 34.00% 8.50% 10.90% 21.90% 56.20% 21.90% -2.39
Lonnie Chisenhall 0.288 19.50% 40.60% 39.80% 6.60% 8.80% 27.90% 48.70% 23.40% 0.05
Roberto Perez 0.304 19.70% 53.30% 27.00% 21.20% 9.50% 24.40% 44.90% 30.70% -1.76
Yan Gomes 0.285 26.40% 33.60% 40.00% 11.30% 10.70% 16.60% 55.90% 27.60% -0.52
Ryan Raburn 0.361 21.50% 43.80% 34.60% 17.80% 9.50% 13.90% 46.20% 40.00% -0.24
Michael Brantley 0.318 22.50% 45.80% 31.70% 9.90% 3.10% 15.90% 53.40% 30.60% 7.98
David Murphy 0.318 17.70% 48.60% 33.70% 8.20% 5.70% 15.90% 57.10% 26.90% 1.35
Abraham Almonte 0.296 19.60% 49.30% 31.20% 11.60% 10.60% 25.20% 46.30% 28.60% -0.29
Jerry Sands 0.298 19.30% 45.50% 35.20% 12.90% 12.20% 19.30% 55.70% 25.00% -2.51
Michael Bourn 0.332 25.40% 47.30% 27.30% 0.00% 10.00% 18.10% 59.70% 22.20% 0.19
Nick Swisher 0.237 21.80% 50.00% 28.20% 9.10% 11.00% 19.20% 52.60% 28.20% -3.14
Francisco Lindor 0.348 20.60% 50.80% 28.70% 13.00% 8.60% 19.10% 55.70% 25.20% 4.98
Mike Aviles 0.25 16.30% 49.20% 34.50% 5.70% 5.90% 17.80% 59.30% 22.90% -1.69

*Will lose this eligibility in 2016

**The ESPN player rater is based on a player's standard 5 x 5 category performance relative to average. A score of 0 is replacement level and negative values mean the player is actually hurting your team. Values in the 1-2 range generally are for your worst starting player, unless you are unlucky. There are no positional adjustments, though, so shortstops and catchers will often have very low scores relative to everyone else. It is normalized so that guys with little playing time can be compared to guys that played all year.

Analysis

Carlos Santana will lose his 3B eligibility in most leagues. Thus, he becomes just a #20-25 ish 1B. He stayed healthy all year and everything he did looks about normal for him, although it would be nice to see his power bounce back up (he hit 27 HR in 2014). Unfortunately, 19 HR is about normal for his career, although the slugging % was at a career low. He set a career high with 11 steals and I don't see that happening again. I expect him to give you about 20 HR with a very high walk rate, bad average, and a slugging maybe around 0.430 or so. He is actually very useful in OBP leagues as a corner infielder. He bats in the middle of the order, so that helps too.

Brandon Moss once again showed his power with 15 HR in basically a half-season of plate appearances, but he also showed bad plate discipline. He still hits the ball hard and hits lots of flies, so the power is real. He basically offers just power at this point and without regular playing time, he isn't very useful in fantasy.

Jason Kipnis rode a very high BABIP (even for him) to a 0.303 average. His career average is 0.272. If you regress his BABIP (career average of 0.320), you get something closer to 0.280. His speed and power were both down and he isn't showing any signs of returning to his 17 HR days. Remember that the downside is his 2014 season, where he had a 0.240 average, 6 homers, and a good 22 steals. I see 10 HR, 10-15 steals, and a 0.270 average for him. That makes him just on the edge of the top 10 2B. Pay a price that is appropriate for that ranking in drafts and you should be fine. Just don't expect much upside.

Yan Gomes had a rough year after returning from a major injury. He started off very slow after getting a late start to the season. He hit a ton of line drives and fly balls, which is a good sign for power, but his slugging % and hard% were very low. I've never liked his lack of walks, but the power at the tough catcher position has always enticed me. I think the BABIP comes up a little, his average and OBP join it, he hits 20 HR, and finishes as the #12 catcher or so.

Michael Brantley put up another season with 15 HR, 15 SB, and a 0.300+ average. The 2014 season will probably be his career year, since 20 HR and 23 SB are a stretch for him. Another 15/15 season with a 0.300 average is very likely, though. His elite plate discipline and low strikeout rates will keep his average up and he had a good enough hard hit % and line drive rate to keep the power at least flat. He's only 28, so he isn't really in a decline phase yet. He remains a very reliable fantasy asset with solid five category contribution.

Francisco Lindor debuted and surprised everyone with his offensive performance. I'm not a fan of his high ground ball rate (it tends to be bad for average) and his BABIP was pretty high. He could certainly be the type of hitter that can maintain a good BABIP (maybe 0.330 or so), so I can't regress it all the way down to a league average 0.300. I'm not suspect of the speed he showed, but the power is questionable. That grounder rate, the poor hard hit %, and the scouting reports of average power all point to something like 10-15 HR in a full season, not the 18-20 HR power he showed in 2015. I think the average will fall to 0.290 and he will get about 16 steals with 13 HR in 2016. Obviously, that's still great for a shortstop and makes him a top-5 candidate.

New Indians Robbie Grossman, Joey Butler, and Rajai Davis are names to keep in mind, especially Grossman.

Bradley Zimmer and Tyler Naquin are two hitting prospects I wanted to touch on. They both could debut this year and both play center field. Zimmer is the top Cleveland prospect on many lists and has a great power/speed combo. If he were to get good playing time late in the year, he could surprise a few people. He may not debut until September, though. Naquin is kind of a lesser version of Zimmer, but is a little closer to the majors. He has a better hit tool, less power, and about the same speed as Zimmer. He's not likely to blow up in Cleveland this year, but is someone to keep in mind for outfield depth later on.

Pitchers

Name Position IP ERA FIP xFIP WHIP BABIP LOB% GB% SwStr%
Jeff Manship RP 39.1 0.92 2.63 3.35 0.76 0.192 91.20% 50.00% 10.70%
Bryan Shaw RP 64 2.95 4.01 3.72 1.22 0.279 81.10% 45.80% 10.70%
Cody Allen RP 69.1 2.99 1.82 2.83 1.17 0.342 71.10% 32.90% 13.30%
Ryan Webb RP 50.2 3.2 3.77 3.64 1.14 0.271 71.70% 59.20% 8.80%
Austin Adams RP 33.1 3.78 3.7 4.7 1.5 0.315 74.20% 46.80% 11.60%
Nick Hagadone RP 27.1 4.28 3.83 4.02 1.54 0.333 68.80% 35.80% 11.10%
Marc Rzepczynski RP 20.1 4.43 3.04 2.76 1.62 0.379 58.30% 70.70% 13.00%
Cody Anderson SP 91.1 3.05 4.27 4.58 1.11 0.237 78.30% 45.90% 7.80%
Danny Salazar SP 185 3.45 3.62 3.48 1.13 0.278 74.50% 43.90% 11.80%
Corey Kluber SP 222 3.49 2.97 3.05 1.05 0.297 71.40% 42.40% 12.90%
Trevor Bauer SP 176 4.55 4.33 4.28 1.31 0.276 71.60% 39.20% 9.60%
Zach McAllister SP, RP 69 3 3.15 3.26 1.35 0.346 78.90% 43.30% 9.80%
Josh Tomlin SP, RP* 65.2 3.02 4.43 3.77 0.84 0.199 90.20% 37.50% 9.40%
Carlos Carrasco SP, RP* 183.2 3.63 2.84 2.66 1.07 0.304 71.80% 51.20% 14.00%
Shaun Marcum SP, RP* 35 5.4 5.79 4.35 1.23 0.253 73.30% 33.00% 11.20%

Name SV HLD K% BB% Soft% Med% Hard% ESPN Player Rater
Jeff Manship 0 3 22.90% 6.90% 21.00% 55.00% 24.00% 1.72
Bryan Shaw 2 23 20.40% 7.20% 18.90% 60.70% 20.40% 0.97
Cody Allen 34 0 34.60% 8.70% 20.00% 55.00% 25.00% 5.77
Ryan Webb 0 0 15.20% 5.90% 20.10% 59.80% 20.10% -0.17
Austin Adams 1 0 15.40% 8.70% 15.00% 50.40% 34.50% -1.28
Nick Hagadone 0 5 22.60% 9.70% 17.90% 58.30% 23.80% -1.91
Marc Rzepczynski 0 12 25.50% 10.60% 15.30% 57.60% 27.10% -2.01
Cody Anderson 0 0 12.10% 6.60% 21.60% 51.70% 26.70% 2.28
Danny Salazar 0 0 25.80% 7.00% 17.10% 54.00% 28.90% 6.69
Corey Kluber 0 0 27.70% 5.10% 17.80% 55.20% 27.00% 7.49
Trevor Bauer 0 0 22.90% 10.60% 21.40% 48.40% 30.20% 2.17
Zach McAllister 1 12 28.10% 7.70% 21.20% 50.80% 28.00% 1.03
Josh Tomlin 0 0 22.70% 3.20% 13.60% 53.80% 32.60% 3.15
Carlos Carrasco 0 0 29.60% 5.90% 17.60% 55.20% 27.30% 7.27
Shaun Marcum 0 0 21.10% 7.80% 19.00% 50.00% 31.00% -1.14

*If they were outside the top 550 pitchers on the player rater, they will show up as #N/A

Analysis

Just look at that rotation! Carrasco is poised to become the team's ace and is easily draftable as a top-10 starting pitcher. He belongs in the conversation for best AL pitcher not named Sale with David Price, Felix Hernandez, and others. He does everything you want a pitcher to do: sky high K%-BB%, elite swinging strike rate, above average ground ball rate, sub-3 xFIP. He was unlucky with the ERA and could certainly post something under 3.0.

Corey Kluber gets second billing, despite showing his Cy Young season wasn't a total fluke. He still has a great WHIP, swinging strike %, K%-BB%, and xFIP. He's still a solid pitcher and a reliable source of a low ERA and innings with lots of strikeouts. Don't shy away from this guy in drafts. Hopefully now that he is a year removed from his Cy Young he can be acquired more cheaply.

Danny Salazar is frustrating to own because he will look unhittable one start then blow up the next. He ended up with what amounted to an above average season. He's only 26 next year and is still working on his sequencing and command. I think there remains upside in this talented pitcher. A 3.30 ERA is very attainable and I think he can take that next step.

Of the remaining starters, Josh Tomlin is actually my favorite. He doesn't have the control issues of Bauer, but has the same strikeout rate. His xFIP and WHIP are much better and their swinging strike % are nearly identical. They are both flyball pitchers than can be taken out of the park too often. Tomlin's 89 mph velocity makes that more likely. Despite that, the control difference alone is enough for me to say Tomlin is the only other Indians starter I want to own. Tomlin is a deep league own, spot starter in standard leagues, while Bauer is only a spot starter in all leagues.

The bullpen seems to be status quo here. Cody Allen has the closer's job and is a very underrated option. I think he is comparable to David Robertson in value and ability. Bryan Shaw has the primary setup job and is just OK. He gets holds, but he is near the bottom of the league in terms of 8th-inning guys skills-wise and shouldn't be a top-15 option for middle relievers. Zach "Z-Mack" McAllister, newly-acquired Kirby Yates, and Jeff Manship are other options, but are too far down the depth chart to worry about.

There aren't any pitching prospects of note projected to debut in 2016, so I won't discuss them here.

Breakout

Yan Gomes

I'm cheating here because he's already had what some might call a "breakout" season, but consider this a "comeback" award instead. I think a bounceback to something close to 2014 is very possible.

Breakdown

Cody Anderson

He debuted in 2015 as a starter and did very well initially. However, his poor skills eventually cost him and his ERA started to climb. His season-long 3.05 ERA looks great, but the FIP, xFIP, and K%-BB% tell a different story. He's not very good and you shouldn't use him in 2016.

Check back soon for the next team preview as we keep moving up the standings. Tschus!