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Ranking the 2014 year-end roster: Part two

Choosing between Kluber and Brantley is essentially impossible

Ranking the 2014 year-end roster: Part two
Michael Brantley (Photo: CBSSports.com)
October 3, 2014
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The 2014 season may have ended with some disappointment with Cleveland missing the playoffs, but finishing with an 85-77 record and being in contention until the last weekend of the season is not all that bad.

Before looking forward to 2015, first IBI is going to look back on 2014. Personally, that starts for me with these roster rankings before transitioning to the IBI Awards next week.

As a reminder, these rankings only represent a player’s performance in 2014 and do not account for bad luck, coming regression, etc. Players with more playing time are given some preference to those since performing decently for a whole season is harder to do than being great in limited time.

The other versions of these rankings in 2014 are listed below. For part one of the year-end rankings, click here:

In-text photos from ESPN

#20 Mike Aviles, INF/OF (Previous Rank: 14, 6, 16, 21)

Mike Aviles (Photo: ESPN)Aviles seems to just be what he is at this point: a player capable of filling in basically anywhere on the field but not good enough offensively to be more than a replacement-level player. That defensive versatility is nice to have on the bench, but given Cleveland’s other versatile options coming up through the system (Jose Ramirez after Francisco Lindor presumably takes the shortstop position, Tyler Holt’s ability to play all three outfield positions, Zach Walters to some extent, etc.), it may not be enough to justify exercising Aviles’ $3.5 million team option at a time when cash is tight for the organization.

#19 Nick Hagadone, LHP (Previous Rank: NR, NR, 36, 20)

We still cannot be 100 percent certain that Hagadone’s outstanding 23.1 innings in 2014 mean more than his not-so-outstanding 67.2 before that, but this season was certainly a step in the right direction for the left-hander. Hagadone still throws hard, and now that he is getting more strikeouts and fewer walks, he looks like a force to be reckoned with. He will still likely slot behind Kyle Crockett and Marc Rzepczynski, but Hagadone is pitching well enough to force Cleveland to carry three left-handers in the bullpen in 2015.

#18 Michael Bourn, OF (Previous Rank: NR, 19, 17, 15)

Michael Bourn (Photo: ESPN)Bourn ranks much higher than Nick Swisher due to posting a positive WAR total, but the 31-year-old still disappointed in 2014. He saw a drop in his steals again, as he went from stealing a base every 3.2 games before coming to Cleveland to stealing one every 5.7 games in 2013 to stealing one every 10.6 games in 2014. Paired with his drop in steals, Bourn rated out negatively again in center field, furthering the case that he just is not the same defender he was a few years ago. Bourn’s offense is still essentially at the same level, but without his value on the basepaths and on defense, the center fielder just is not the same player.

#17 Asdrubal Cabrera, SS (Previous Rank: 8, 4, 7, 10)

Cabrera sliding in these rankings is no reflection on his performance down the stretch, as he had 0.6 fWAR in 49 games with the Nationals as they won the National League East and enter the playoffs. But that value means nothing here since it did not come in Cleveland, leaving Cabrera stagnant while the rest of the roster moves up around him.

#16 Danny Salazar, RHP (Previous Rank: 5, 18, 23, 13)

The 2014 season did not start out well for Salazar, but ultimately, the right-hander settled in and pitched pretty well. Weighing runs allowed and peripherals equally, Salazar’s 4.25 ERA and 3.52 FIP in 110.0 innings left him as a roughly average starting pitcher. The hope for Salazar is that his ERA will regress down a bit toward his FIP, which could be the case given his .343 BABIP in 2014, but even if it does not, the right-hander is already a decent pitcher. Having a decent pitcher in the rotation with the upside for much more is a pretty good place to be and that is where Salazar is.

#15 T.J. House, LHP (Previous Rank: NR, NR, 18, 14)

T.J. House (Photo: ESPN)You could have gotten really good odds before the season if you wanted to bet on House finishing ahead of Salazar here (as you can tell by looking at the previous rankings), yet here we are. In his first taste of the major leagues, House posted a 7.1 SO/9, 2.0 BB/9, and 60.9 percent groundball rate, marks that leave the left-hander as a well-rounded starting pitcher. It does not seem likely that House will run a 3.35 ERA, 3.69 FIP, and 3.10 xFIP over the long haul as he did in his first 102.0 innings, but those marks still establish the  25-year-old as someone worthy of a major league spot in 2015.

#14 Trevor Bauer, RHP (Previous Rank: NR, 23, 9, 8)

Walks are still holding Bauer back, as his 3.5 BB/9 mark is still a little high and is part of the reason his 4.18 ERA and 4.01 FIP remain high, but 2014 still serves as a big step forward for Bauer. After last season’s refining of his pitching motion and rough results, seeing Bauer as a serviceable major league pitcher is huge. For now, Bauer is getting a bit of a bump in these rankings for pitching 153.0 major league innings, but considering the right-hander is throwing around an average level, he will need to perform better in the future to be more than a middle-of-the-road starter. Still, like Salazar, being a solid pitcher with the capability for more is not bad at all.

#13 Kyle Crockett, LHP (Previous Rank: NR, NR, 20, 19)

At only 22 years old and in his first full professional season, Crockett already established himself as a good major league reliever. In his first 30.0 major league innings, Crockett struck out nearly a batter per inning, posted a 2.4 BB/9, and ran a meager 1.80 ERA. His current profile is technically that of a LOOGY  -- he posted a 1.91 FIP against lefties and a 5.22 FIP against righties -- but Crockett is still young enough that he could learn to get righties out in time. Crockett is a very good pitcher and should figure into the major league bullpen for a long time.

#12 Jose Ramirez, INF (Previous Rank: NR, 28, 33, 18)

Jose Ramirez (Photo: ESPN)Sure, as a pure hitter, Ramirez’s .262/.300/.346 line and 85 wRC+ does not stack up as much. But coming from a shortstop at a time when the average shortstop posted a .251/.306/.363 line and 87 wRC+, Ramirez’s offense is actually league-average provided it comes while he is at the shortstop position. Plus, after posting some very strong defensive marks and garnering praise for his defense at the hardest position on the field, it seems like Ramirez could hold his own as a shortstop in the majors. Expecting him to put up All-Star level WAR totals over a whole season still seems a little much, but after he did it in 266 plate appearances in 2014, it suddenly does not seem that outrageous.

#11 Marc Rzepczynski, LHP (Previous Rank: 19, 16, 15, 16)

Cleveland’s resident #1 left-handed reliever walked more batters this year (his 2.9 BB/9 in 2013 rose to 3.7 in 2014), but the 29-year-old paired that raise with a 59.7 percent groundball rate and 0.2 HR/9 to once again get stellar results. Rzepczynski’s ultimate value is still capped by his struggles against right-handed batters (4.55 FIP in 2014, 4.79 FIP for his career), but there will always be a place for a LOOGY in a major league bullpen. With a 2.56 career FIP and a 1.79 mark in 2014, Rzepczynski is definitely still someone Terry Francona can rely upon to neutralize a left-handed batter.

#10 Jason Kipnis, 2B (Previous Rank: 1, 12, 8, 12)

It certainly was not a good year for Kipnis, yet it still is hard to fully give up on the 27-year-old. His strikeout and walk rates remained essentially the same, with the big dip in his offensive value coming from a dip in power and BABIP. Obviously the BABIP is something likely to come back to his norm, but it is also possible the two issues are related in some way. Possible lingering effects of Kipnis’ oblique injury -- either physically, mentally, or mechanically -- could have harmed the second baseman’s ability to make hard contact, making it entirely possible we will look back on 2014 as the fluky year of his prime.

#9 Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B (Previous Rank: 11, 10, 4, 5)

Lonnie Chisenhall (Photo: ESPN)The consistency was not there for Chisenhall -- as evidenced by his 163 wRC+ in the first half and 68 wRC+ in the second half -- but the end result was a solid-average season with a 121 wRC+. The poor defense drags down Chisenhall’s value -- he was about a full win below average this year, which is right in line with his career norms -- but the bat might be for real. Third base may be a spot Cleveland looks to upgrade in the offseason, but assuming Chisenhall can find some consistency entering his age-26 season, he could be a valuable member of the team heading forward.

#8 Bryan Shaw, RHP (Previous Rank: 15, 8, 10, 7)

Shaw is not an elite reliever in the mold of an Aroldis Chapman or Craig Kimbrel, but the right-hander has done nothing but get results in his career. On top of his 2.59 ERA and 3.42 FIP in 2014, Shaw’s 3.01 ERA and 3.44 FIP for his career paint a portrait of a quality, trustworthy reliever. A note of caution regarding Shaw, however, is that Francona rode the right-hander hard in 2014, pitching him a league-high 27 times on no days rest. We do not know much about pitching injuries other than it happens to just about anyone, but given the volatility of relievers, it is something to keep in mind.

#7 Scott Atchison, RHP (Previous Rank: 23, 13, 13, 9)

Further proving that relievers can come out of nowhere, the 38-year-old Atchison came into camp on a minor league contract and ended up as the second-highest rated reliever in these rankings. Atchison does not blow hitters away, but he makes his 6.1 SO/9 work thanks to a 1.8 BB/9 and 58.8 percent groundball rate. Just like how he came out of nowhere, Atchison could fade away in 2015, but given his 3.44 ERA, 3.59 FIP, and 2.4 fWAR in his 327.0 career innings, the right-hander has a history of performing and has been pretty good in three of the last four years. Atchison may not be young, but it looks like he still has plenty left in the tank.

#6 Carlos Carrasco, RHP (Previous Rank: 17, 25, 11, 11)

Carlos Carrasco (Photo: ESPN)Oh, the wonders of baseball. After posting 1.3 fWAR in 238.1 innings prior to this season, Carrasco put up 3.2 fWAR in 134.0 2014 innings and looks like a top-of-the-rotation starter to pair with Corey Kluber for years to come. Carrasco was a different guy this year, with an ERA (2.55), FIP (2.44), and xFIP (2.66) all below 2.70. The list of other starting pitchers to accomplish that feat in 2014: Kluber, Clayton Kershaw, and Felix Hernandez. We do not know if Carrasco will be able to maintain this level of performance while in the rotation full time and for more than 134.0 innings, but being able to pitch this well for two-thirds of a full season likely means the right-hander will be able to pitch at least decently in the future.

#5 Carlos Santana, 1B/3B/C (Previous Rank: 2, 14, 5, 4)

It may not be superstardom, but Santana’s fWAR totals over the last four years are all consistently in the same range: 3.3; 3.2; 3.5; 3.1. But while this past year only rates out as in the same consistently above-average range Santana has settled into to this point in his career, there is actually some hope for the 28-year-old to take another step forward in 2015.  Santana’s overall offensive output was right on his career average, yet he accomplished that with a terribly low .249 BABIP. Even a little positive regression will raise Santana’s line up, which will help him meet the offensive demands of his new position: first base.

#4 Cody Allen, RHP (Previous Rank: 13, 9, 6, 6)

Cody Allen (Photo: ESPN)Like Shaw and Atchison, Francona called upon Allen frequently in 2014, though that is what you do when you have a reliever with a 2.07 ERA and 2.99 FIP. How the work affects Allen long term will be known in the years to come, but for now, the right-hander is a flamethrowing reliever with a stellar 11.8 SO/9 and a decent 3.4 BB/9. Allen’s 3.72 ERA and two blown saves in 9.2 September innings down the stretch did hurt Cleveland’s playoff chances, but in the big picture, the team probably would not have been in contention deep into the season without the right-hander.

#3 Yan Gomes, C (Previous Rank: 3, 3, 3, 3)

And a year of #3 rankings for Gomes comes to its logical conclusion with the 27-year-old coming in as the third-best player on the roster this season. Gomes’ walk rate fell a bit from 2013 to 2014 (5.6 to 4.6 percent) and his strikeout rate rose (20.8 to 23.2 percent), but thanks to continuing power (.194 isolated power) and above-average defense, the catcher remained quite valuable even while playing a full season. It may not seem like it based on a quick look, but Gomes finished in the top-30 in fWAR, ahead of such names as Victor MartinezJustin UptonJacoby EllsburyYoenis Cespedes, and Hanley Ramirez. Gomes is a very good player and has the catching position in Cleveland locked down for years to come.

#2 Michael Brantley, OF (Previous Rank: 7, 2, 1, 2)

#1 Corey Kluber, RHP (Previous Rank: 6, 1, 2, 1)

Michael Brantley (Photo: ESPN)Taking you behind the curtain as to how I compile these rankings, I look at how far above average each player is in terms of WAR (2.0 for hitters and starting pitchers, 0.7 for relievers) and playing time (600 plate appearances for hitters, 200 innings for starting pitchers, 70 innings for relievers). After ranking those just based on the numbers, I then analyze what the numbers are telling me and make corrections as needed, especially when the numbers are close.

So how close are Brantley and Kluber?

  • Kluber: 7.1 WAR (355% of the league average), 235.2 innings (118% of the league average): 473% of the league average overall
  • Brantley: 7.0 WAR (348% of the league average), 676 plate appearances (113% of the league average): 460% of the league average overall

Corey Kluber (Photo: ESPN)Despite Kluber exceeding Brantley’s totals in both category, both marks are definitely close enough that picking Brantley is defensible.

Personally, I am going with the player with a serious argument for the AL Cy Young over the guy who will definitely finish behind Mike Trout in the MVP vote (though there is a good case for him finishing second). But if you want Brantley, no argument. Cleveland was blessed with two truly elite players in 2014; in the end, enjoying and appreciating that is all that matters.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at jpiasci1@gmail.com. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

User Comments

Vic Ven0M
October 5, 2014 - 1:36 AM EDT
You can post all of the fancy schmancy stats you want about Shaw and Cody Allen, but I know that they choked and blew some critical games down the stretch. Shaw was absolute frickin GARBAGIO some of those games against the Tigers. Tigers were not even that good this year really. They had a better team last season and we shouldn't of lost those games late in the season against their suspect ass team.
marty
October 4, 2014 - 2:12 PM EDT
Jim - what I'm saying is that I find it hard to rank Crockett (for example) so high when he only threw 30 innings, just as I would find it hard to rate a great 4th outfielder (let's say a guy with 50 at bats) above a starter who had 300 at bats, unless the starter was horrible (such as Swisher). A guy like Salazar or Bauer has more value to me than Crockett. A great LOOGY is nice, but he's still a LOOGY.

Jim Piascik
October 4, 2014 - 11:12 AM EDT
Ok, I think things are getting a little mixed.

Each position has a baseline for a good performance. For relievers, that's a bit lower because they inherently will not have as many innings. So a 1.0 WAR reliever is above-average compared to other major league relievers even though he falls below the 2.0 WAR mark for an "average" player.

The criteria for each player is the same: put up as much value as possible. But the baseline for success is different for different positions.

As for Kipnis, here are Fangraphs' breakdowns of value on Offense, Defense, and Baserunning (accounting for position):

Kipnis: -2.6 Offense, -6.6 Defense, 6.2 Baserunning, 1.0 fWAR in 555 PA
Bourn: -4.5 Offense, -7.8 Defense, -1.1 Baserunning, 0.4 fWAR in 487 PA
Murphy: -2.7 Offense, -16.6 Defense, -3.0 Baserunning, -0.5 fWAR in 462 PA

Kipnis wins in all three categories, plus stayed on the field more. Even though the lead is slight in some categories, it adds up. It wasn't a pretty year, but it was definitely better than Bourn's and Murphy's.

Finally, the statement "a great 4th outfielder who bats 40 times would be ranked higher than Brantley" is itself silly, because: 1, that outfielder would not have any time to accumulate value; 2, I add in the playing time component; and 3, that's not how my rankings work.Tyler Holt was not in the top-20. Brantley was #2. That is a wholly wrong statement.
NORM
October 4, 2014 - 10:31 AM EDT
Jim, that does not make sense to me. You take the one number that compares Kipnis favorably to Bourn and Murphy and overlook the many numbers, especially offensively, which are contrary. If you are going to reconcile this innings played evaluation for relievers/starters and rerate them, I just don't understand how you change back arbitrarily for Kipnis. Are you under the illusion that war is a perfect measurement of everything? If you are going to judge, then the criteria and judging should be the same for everyone regardless of position. Several scouts believe RF in Cleveland is difficult to play and is supported by the difficulties so many players have had out there. The same is not true of 2B which has been a home to many of the Indians best defenders.
Marty
October 4, 2014 - 9:34 AM EDT
If we rank relievers based on how they compare to other relievers, I guess we can't compare Gomes to Victor Martinez. By this system of ranking, a great 4th outfielder who bats 40 times would be ranked higher than Brantley... Silly if anyone asks me...
Jim Piascik
October 4, 2014 - 8:21 AM EDT
The relievers are ranked higher because I adjusted how I evaluate them midseason. Instead of constantly punishing them for not being worth as much as starters (due to the innings pitched gap), I started comparing them to relievers only. Allen was one of the better relievers in baseball, which is why I had him jump ahead of an above-average player like Santana.

As for Kipnis over Bourn and Murphy, I'm not sure where that's coming from. Kipnis beat them both at both versions of WAR (except for Bourn edging Kipnis 1.0 to 0.9 in rWAR). Plus Kipnis played more, which has the benefit of not overstretching the bench/minor league system.

Bourn and Murphy both technically outhit Kipnis, but given the offensive requirements of Murphy's position (which he didn't quite live up to) and that Bourn did not beat Kipnis by much (and played a little bit worse defense), that's how Kipnis ends up higher.
Norm
October 4, 2014 - 2:29 AM EDT
Jim, you have lost me on some of these ratings. Nearly every Indians blogger that I know considers Kipnis to have had a worse season both offensively and defensively than Bourn and Murphy but you rank Kipnis at 10 and the others way down. Now I do not want Kipnis thrown to the wolves but his injury excuse is really no different than others who have been successful in the past and the Indins have more invested in him than others. I want Kipnis to have another chance but if he looks no better then I think you move Ramirez to 2nd when Lindor is ready. Ramirez is far superior defensively to Kipnis and, if 2014 is an indication, he is superior offensively in many respects. I would not be surprised to see a similar issue come up before the end of 2015 with Urshela if Chisenhall does not improve his throwing. I enjoyed the piece but just do not undersatn the Kipnis rating compared to other regulars who outperformed him in 2014. Even poor AsCab was better. Personally, I think you undervalued five starters by overvaluing some relievers but that is just my opinion and not as unsupportable by any measure as Kipnis' ranking.
C L Who
October 4, 2014 - 1:55 AM EDT
Some changes that would help Santana finally have a break out year on batting average are (1) he only plays first base, and (2) he only bats in the 5 slot.

For some reason, TF keeps batting him 4th, notwithstanding that his career stats clearly show that he hits for much better average batting 5th. Batting him 4th is idiocy, repeated daily. I doubt TF has looked at a stat more complex than right handed vs. left handed in his career.
Roger
October 3, 2014 - 11:59 PM EDT
if shaw and allen and ash would have had 15% less appearances the end of the year home runs allowed may not have happened. That is reason for zac mac to set up role
Roger
October 3, 2014 - 11:57 PM EDT
tony,
if i remember correctly before his finger injury Zac Mac was working and it was successful with a splitter. that could be similar to wade davis's they both can hit 98 and davis has electric curve If zac maC can make the splitter an effective pitch and lower his fastball percentage from low 70's to low 60's percent of pitches he needs to develop the split and get his confidence back in it. that in my opinion is one big reason we didnt make playoffs was shaw and allen giving up home runs late 4 times snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. Lets hope the correlation of zac mac and wade davis and maybe last years luke holshiver numbers can happen.
Tony
October 3, 2014 - 11:49 PM EDT
This is not to take anything away from Victor as he had an amazing year. But offense is only part of the game. As Jim said, there are so many other ways to impact a game. Gomes was a superior defender. He managed a pitching staff, is one of the best in the game at pitch framing, throws out runners at a good clip and much more. Those skills are invaluable and something a DH cannot provide. If I had to have one of them and only one on my team, I take Gomes every time.
Vic Venom
October 3, 2014 - 10:10 PM EDT
Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw are ranked WAY TOO HIGH on this list.
Jim Piascik
October 3, 2014 - 9:00 PM EDT
A big part of the difference between Gomes and Victor is not only that Gomes plays one of the most important positions on defense well, but that Victor literally offers no defensive value. Plus, Victor's a pretty bad baserunner at this point in his career (while Gomes has been decent).

It's much easier to see Victor's value because we are very used to offensive statistics. But accounting for the huge defense gap (plus a few extra points for the baserunning), it's perfectly rational to see Gomes' value slipping past Victor's.
#nofatchicks
October 3, 2014 - 8:58 PM EDT
Jim Piasick kills it on the reg with these articles. Just great stuff.
Brandon
October 3, 2014 - 8:25 PM EDT
Tony, do you really believe Gomes had a more valuable 2014 than Victor? The defensive difference is pretty large, but Victor's OPS was nearly .200 points higher. Baseball reference has Yan at 4.4 WAR and Victor at 5.3.

Fangraph's generous ranking kind of reminds me of Bourn's 6 WAR season in 2012. The defense may be good, but I'd much prefer a dominant middle of the order run producer, something the Indians have lacked since Hafner.
David
October 3, 2014 - 7:22 PM EDT
Was just pondering the accurate comment that our position players are all pretty weak outside of Gomes and Brantley. It really struck me; almost all of them are underachievers!!!

1) Kipnis had a horrible year, both at the plate and with the glove. I still feel he will rebound, at least with the bat. Wasn't he considered pretty good with the glove going into 2014 too?

2) Bourne- already discussed.

3) Chiz- overachieved in the first half, underachieved in the 2nd half. Has the talent to be much better, both with the bat and with the glove. (he should be MUCH better with the glove anyway)

4) Raburn- Will the real Ryan Raburn PLEASE stand up???

5) Swisher- He is NOT as bad as he has looked! Bat or glove....

6) Murphy- Well, he was pretty close to norm, but still below....
Jimmy
October 3, 2014 - 7:00 PM EDT
If we cannot trade Bourn, Murphy or Swisher, then what would be the best thing for us to do. I can see Murphy being a bench player and Swisher retiring to be the new hitting coach. Now Bourn, he played hard coming back from last injury but totals were very low. Maybe be able to put him in a package trade with Lindor, since J Ram has proved he is ready for majors, either Danny or Trevor to get John Carlos Stanton from Miami. This would be the only trade that we should give up so much for that power hitter, who is young and sign him to multiyear deal. Lindor for Stanton with a few other players.
troy
October 3, 2014 - 6:56 PM EDT
Jason Kipnis has zero defensive skills. He can't hit either. Excuses for his health notwithstanding. At best He is a Tony Bernnazard caliber player.
Tony
October 3, 2014 - 6:11 PM EDT
Brandon, not sure how I see that as ridiculous. Gomes is a more valuable player than Victor Martinez.
Brandon
October 3, 2014 - 5:19 PM EDT
Gomes had a higher WAR than Victor Martinez according to fWAR? That is flat out ridiculous, despite the defensive bonus Gomes rightfully deserves. Another example of the failures of WAR.
yourtribe
October 3, 2014 - 3:05 PM EDT
David that is why I say eat even half his salary. I'd rather eat 7 than 14 with him.

Someone may take him if they only have to pay 7?? I hope!!
Homer
October 3, 2014 - 2:31 PM EDT
Two thoughts....

First, people saying cut ties with Mike Aviles by declining his option. I think is a mistake, listed here at 20 tells me has has value even if marginal. I think they could flip him for a RP to help fortify the pen, or add him to a larger deal. Regardless, why dump value?

Second, yes, Trevor Bauer walks too many people, as a 23 yo, SP in his first (almost) full season in the big leagues. I think he gets too cute at times, trying to nibble the corners. He's got the stuff to throw it over the plate and make people miss. I think reputation hurts him a bit, I watch MLB.com's pitch tracker and he had a lot of balls called that were right on the edge of the strike zone that could / should have went the other way. If he were a premier name or a seasoned vet, he'd probably get those calls. Point is, he's got the talent and drive to improve, I wouldn't be a bit shocked to see his ERA improve to 3.25 - 3.50 next season.
David
October 3, 2014 - 2:27 PM EDT
Bourne is a talented guy and goes all out, but for some reason he has never put it together, especially in Cleveland. Premature aging seems to be a huge factor here, so I do not think anyone will take him off our hands no matter what. NO WAY.
yourtribe
October 3, 2014 - 2:01 PM EDT
Tito has kipnis 3 spots higher than Gomes!!!! Just like the batting order!

Dumping all or a large portion of Bourns salary is the key. Every effort has to be made. His crappy numbers can easily be replaced by someone making a lot less.
Daingean
October 3, 2014 - 12:52 PM EDT
I think the game has changed somewhat in that the 7 thru 9 BP guys are so important. Given the team's offensive woes I would elevate Brantley to 1 but you said it was so close....overall my MVP is Gomes because since he took over the catching position the staff has taken a big step foreward....Gomez and Callaway have been worth every penny the team has paid them.
Tony
October 3, 2014 - 12:14 PM EDT
Yep, when you have only three position players worth a damn, several others that really struggled and several others that are role players....and combine that with four guys who were not in the starting rotation all year....it is a recipe for a lot of relievers to be in the top 15 or so and to be underwhelmed with the overall listing.
Jim Piascik
October 3, 2014 - 11:41 AM EDT
Thanks markn95. I'm with you. So many relievers near the top, which hurts me. But I guess a lot of it comes back to so much of the starting rotation only pitching half the season or so. That should (probably) change next year with Carrasco, Salazar, Bauer, House, etc. spending most (if not all) of the season in the majors.

But yeah, it's an interesting breakdown for a team that was in contention to the last weekend of the season. No doubt about it.
markn95
October 3, 2014 - 10:44 AM EDT
For a team with 85 wins and a shot at the playoffs until the last weekend of the season, the top 10-15 players on its roster are sure underwhelming (on paper, at least). This is to take nothing away from Kluber, Brantley, and Gomes, who absolutely deserve their top 3 spot. It the rest of the list that gets sketchy. First, 5 of the top 13 guys are relievers. Now, the bullpen has been the strength of the team for a long time now, but how many other playoff-contending teams would have that many relievers in their top 15? Also, the pen imploded in the last leg of the playoff chase. That may be nitpicking in light of how overused they were but it just goes to show how one of the team's biggest strengths gave way in the last two weeks of the season. Then there's Carrasco at #6. Again, I agree with the ranking; it's just that he's there on the basis of only two months of the season. I love what he did in those 9-10 starts and I'm really excited about what he can do in the next 3 years for the Tribe, but usually the top 10 is reserved for guys who contribute all year. Which brings me to #9--Lonnie Chisenhall. What else needs to be said about his first and second half splits? For most playoff teams, his bad defense alone would knock him out of the top 10. Even Carlos Santana, whose final numbers would be top-5 worthy on almost any team in the bigs, had a dreadful two months to start the season. And finally, Jason Kipnis at #10. I'm in the camp that believes Kip was hurt most of the year and should get a mulligan going forward. But that doesn't take away at all from 2014, which was one of the most disappointing seasons by a Tribseman in sometime.

Anyway, great list Jim. I agree with all. I guess my rant just goes to highlight how surprisingly weak a lot of this roster is. I can only credit Tito as a manager and truly elite performances of guys like Kluber, Brantley, and Gomes to our strong finish this year.

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The 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider book featuring the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is now available. Also, previous editions from 2008-2012 are also available at a discounted rate. Just click on the book image for more information. Thanks again for all the support!

 

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