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Baseball's Top Dogs – Cleveland, City of Champions?

francisco-lindor
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8:1 ODDS………………………10 pays 80

The Tribe are back!  What a time to be from Cleveland, the “city of champions”.

Harlem Globetrotters funny lol laughing

The run the Indians made is truly unbelievable considering the amount of devastating injuries they had.  They were pitching with an ace who was going on short rest almost every start.  They pieced together their #4 and #5 starters and had to incorporate a “bullpen” start because one of those guys nearly cut off his finger with a drone.  What did all of that teach us?  The legend of “Tito” lives on.

Image result for tito francona

Well, as I discussed in my off-season rundown (link here) Cleveland’s 2 fireball throwing studs are back.  Carlos Carrasco had a great 3.32 ERA last year and had the 4th highest strikeout rate in baseball…his stuff is filthy.  Danny Salazar ranked #14 in K rate in 2014, it doesn’t get much better than him as a #3 starter and he’s still only 27 years old.

We were all witnesses (ADIOS LEBRON) to Kluber’s sensational playoff run when he went 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA pitching on short rest for most starts.  As long as he doesn’t have any setbacks from that deep postseason, he’ll be ready to roll as the #1 ace.  Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin round out the staff as extremely capable back end starters and now have the playoff experience that should exude confidence.

Speaking of confidence, I feel pretty good that the addition of Edwin Encarnacion and his 42 HR and 127 RBI won’t bring this offense down much from the #5 spot it held last year in runs scored in Major League Baseball.  A healthy Michael Brantley who hit .318 (avg over last 2 years before injury) will supplant the departure of Rajai Davis and a healthy Yan Gomes will provide some depth at catcher.  Top prospect Bradley Zimmer will provide even more depth to one of the deepest outfields in baseball if/when he’s called up later this year.  The same battle-tested bullpen returns with the untouchable, absolutely filthy Andrew Miller leading the way.

Recent history points to AL champions who lost in the world series returning the next year to exact vengeance and claim the crown.  In 2010 the Texas Rangers lost in the world series only to come back the next year and come within inches of winning it all in 2011.  In the 2014 World Series the KC Royals lost a heartbreaking game 7 where Madison Bumgarner finished off a dominant playoff pitching performance like no other (1.03 ERA in the playoffs).  The Royals returned the very next year to achieve baseball immortality defeating the Mets in 5 games.  The Tribe made it to the 10th inning of game 7 of the World Series last year.  Could a similar story play out for the new “city of champions”?  Time will tell, but they unequivocally provide the best value of any top team at 8:1.

 

BREAK OUT STAR:  Francisco Lindor — Similar to Javy Baez, I’m kinda cheating here considering how well Lindor performed in the playoffs.  Nonetheless, after cruising through his first full MLB season the 23 year old shortstop is in store for stardom.  I see a .325, 25 HR season coming.  And I haven’t even mentioned that world class D.

UNDER THE RADAR: Michael Brantley — After his devastating injury in 2016, Brantley is flying under the radar after the Tribe made their World Series run without him.  He’s already proven he can perform in a big way on some shitty Indians offenses in years past, he’s going to have a very nice year and will hit well over .300 now that he’s finally in a lineup that can hit.

DUE FOR REGRESSION: Jason Kipnis — While I don’t see his numbers tumbling, his 23 HR last year were a career high as he belted them out of hitter-friendly Progressive Field.  His HR will drop to around 15 and his average will hover around the .280 mark.  Still not bad for a middle infielder.  (This call was a stretch)

FINAL VERDICT:  50 Units

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