2019 Fantasy Baseball: Cleveland Indians Team Preview
C Roberto Perez — Perez is starter mostly in name as he might end up sharing the job with Kevin Plawecki. Regardless, he will not share a spot on any of my rosters this season.
1B Carlos Santana — Most people will want to regurgitate when thinking about drafting Santana, but I think that is a mistake. Although he hit only .229 last season, Santana is back in Cleveland where he is comfortable. Santana will most likely go .250/25/85 this season and he won’t cost you more than a 15th round pick.
2B Jason Kipnis — 2016 was Kipnis’ peak season and in the two years since then he has not been able to come close to that type of production. What Kipnis has become is a .240 hitter with about 15 HRs and 10 SB. When drafting him, pay for his numbers and not his name and you will be much better off.
SS Francisco Lindor — Lindor was a surefire top three overall pick before he injured his calf muscle. Now, his value has dropped somewhere between the 10th overall pick and somewhere in the mid-second round. I don’t think that Lindor’s power will be sapped from the injury, but I do wonder if he will be able to steal more than 15 bases in 2019. A calf muscle is a twitch muscle which means that it is more readily re-injured. The Indians will have to be careful with Lindor for much of April and even through May to make sure that it does not linger throughout the season.
3B Jose Ramirez — Ramirez was arguably baseball’s MVP through last year’s All-Star Break. However, in the second half he struggled and seemed like a different player. Who is the real Ramirez? I think that answer lies somewhere in between. Third base is an incredibly thin position this season and I have taken Ramirez in both FSTA and LABR with early picks. I hope last year’s end of season tailspin was due to his being tired more than anything else. I have a feeling we will know for sure by July which Ramirez we will see.
OF Jake Bauers — Admittedly, I was shocked to see Tampa trade Bauers as I thought he was a cornerstone of their franchise for years to come. However, Tampa’s loss is Cleveland’s gain. Bauers qualifies at 1B and OF and is a steal in the mid to late rounds of drafts. I can easily see him hitting 20 HRs and getting 10 SB this season. If he can hit .260 that would be a huge bonus. (SLEEPER)
OF Greg Allen — Have a need for speed? Look no further than Greg Allen. Allen is a one category threat who might prove to be a decent add in AL only leagues. In mixed leagues his lack of HR/RBIs is too difficult to overcome.
OF Leonys Martin — Martin can’t hit LHP, but if he can stay healthy enough (not an easy thing for him), he might find himself 400 at-bats against RHP. If this happens, Martin could go 15/15 and be a steal as one of the last picks in your draft. (Rip van Winkle Sleeper)
OF Tyler Naquin — Naquin has been on the Indians radar for what seems like forever, but the last time he’s been healthy was back in 2016. He can barely hit LHP and will most likely find the DL list numerous times, leaving him way off my draft radar.
SP Corey Kluber — Kluber continues to pitch a ton of innings (418 in the past two seasons), but he also continues to pitch at an extremely high level. One of these years I expect a regression, but I am still very high on him and think that he might be able to compete for the Cy Young this season.
SP Carlos Carrasco — The knock on Carrasco has always been his inability to stay healthy, but for the past two seasons he has been stellar. In 2018 he had 231 Ks in only 192 IP which is the marking of a Fantasy ace for certain. Carrasco is a lock in the third round of drafts.
SP Trevor Bauer — What’s amazing about Bauer is that he had 221 Ks last year in only 175 IP. Can you imagine how good he might be if he pitches 200+ innings? I have seen Bauer go in drafts anywhere from the mid-second to the mid-third round depending on the owners in the draft. If you like him (and I do) you might have to strike earlier than expected. (BREAKOUT)
SP Mike Clevinger — What I like most about Clevinger is that he seems to be the last of the top tier pitchers that get selected in drafts. So, while other people are taking Buehler and Paxton, you might be able to wait a round or two and take Clevinger and get similar numbers. That is the key to winning Fantasy Baseball.
SP Shane Bieber — Do you have Bieber fever? I know I do. While Bieber’s ERA in 2018 might frighten some owners, you are going to look at his 118: 23 K to BB rate and realize that he is a future stud in the making. I would be ecstatic if Bieber was my SP5.
RP Brad Hand — There are no sure things in the saves category anymore, but Hand is as sure a thing as is out there these days. The Indians got rid of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen in the off-season, so Hand is the only one with true closing experience in the bullpen. Hand won’t cost you as much as Osuna, Diaz, and Treinen, but he might end up with numbers just as good.
Bradley Zimmer — Zimmer is recovering from torn labrum surgery and is hoping to start the year with the team. Most likely, however, he will begin the season in Triple A and be called up when Tyler Naquin inevitably gets injured. When Zimmer comes up he is someone on my radar, but he has to learn to make better contact at the plate before I get really interested. I think he is a year away from Fantasy success.