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Taking a look at the 2015 projections for the Indians

Taking a look at the 2015 projections for the Indians
Jason Kipnis and several other Indians are looking ahead to a better 2015. (Photo: AP)
October 21, 2014
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Projected statistics for 2015 have been posted by Steamer Projections Blog and, while it’s difficult to predict what a team will look like six months before Opening Day, it offers Tribe fans clamoring for next year an early look at what they might expect.

Might is the key word to remember here as they are projections.  Injuries, career years, and down years happen every season.  Most importantly, this is before the Indians’ offseason, so free agent signings and/or trades could shake up the roster.  While I don’t expect Max Scherzer or Nelson Cruz to be an Indian come April, I don’t think they’ll simply just bring everyone back either.

With all of that said, let’s take a look at the projections (position and bat in parentheses):

Projected Lineup

Michael Bourn (CF, LH) - 2.0 WAR, .253/.313/.351, 20 SB
Jose Ramirez (SS, SH) - 1.6 WAR, .262/.308/.355, 18 SB
Michael Brantley (LF, LH) - 3.2 WAR, .291/.351/.429, 14 SB
Carlos Santana (1B, SH) - 3.0 WAR, .245/.367/.432, 22 HR
Jason Kipnis (2B, LH) - 2.6 WAR, .262/.338/.398, 20 SB
Yan Gomes (CA, RH) - 3.4 WAR, .260/.308/.434
David Murphy (RF, LH) - 0.7 WAR, .256/.319/.392
Nick Swisher (DH, SH) - 0.4 WAR, .234/.321/.384
Lonnie Chisenhall (3B, LH) - 2.0 WAR, .263/.320/.428

Projected Bench

Mike Aviles (UT, RH) - .245/.277/.351
Ryan Raburn (OF, RH) - 0.2 WAR, .232/.291/.380
Roberto Perez (CA, RH) - 0.2 WAR, .206/.288/.297
Tyler Holt (OF, RH) - .243/.309/.309

Projected Rotation

Corey Kluber - 4.2 WAR, 13-9, 3.18 ERA
Carlos Carrasco - 2.8 WAR, 10-8, 3.55 ERA
Danny Salazar - 2.1 WAR, 11-9, 3.57 ERA
Trevor Bauer - 0.6 WAR, 10-11, 4.56 ERA
TJ House - 1.8 WAR, 9-9, 4.07 ERA

Projected Bullpen

Cody Allen - 0.6 WAR, 4-3, 28 SV, 2.87 ERA
Bryan Shaw - 0.2 WAR, 3-3, 6 SV, 3.77 ERA
Kyle Crockett - 0.3 WAR, 2-2, 1 SV, 3.37 ERA
Scott Atchison - 0.3 WAR, 3-3, 3 SV, 3.65 ERA
Nick Hagadone - 0.2 WAR, 2-2, 3.04 ERA
Marc Rzepczynski - 0.3 WAR, 3-3, 2 SV, 3.64 ERA
C.C. Lee - 0.0 WAR, 1-1, 3.69 ERA

A few things I noticed while looking at these projections:

- Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher are both projected to do about the same in 2015 as they did in 2014.  Swisher’s numbers are projected up a bit while Bourn’s defense is rated higher, but neither is expected to regain their prime form.  I view this as a fair expectation, and one the Indians should be planning for.

- The projections see Michael Brantley and Corey Kluber both maintaining their status as top players, but don’t have either expected to repeat their 2014 performances.

- Steamer sees Jason Kipnis as closer to his 2012 campaign (3.0 WAR) than his All-Star 2013 season (4.4 WAR), which I view as a fair assessment.  It would still be a significant upgrade over Kipnis’ forgettable 2014.

- The projections are not big on Trevor Bauer’s 2015 outlook with his walk rate, strikeout rate, and home run rate all getting worse.  While I don’t necessarily agree that Bauer will take a significant step back in 2015, this does serve as a reminder of the youth of this pitching staff.  It would serve the Indians well to find at least one solid veteran option this winter.

- The bench is not a particularly strong one.  The lack of Major League depth caught up to the Indians late in 2014 (Chris Gimenez started at first base in the biggest series of the year) and is something they need to address, especially given the concerns about Swisher, Bourn, and Kipnis staying in the lineup.

- The opportunities for the Indians to upgrade are clear (and, to most, have been for a while): DH, third base and/or right field.  With Swisher’s huge contract and the likelihood he’s a DH-only at this point in his career, it means the Indians should be seeking upgrades at third base and/or right field.  Upgrading both and pushing Murphy and Chisenhall to part-time roles would not only help the lineup, it would also improve the poor depth on the bench as well.

- For those wondering about Francisco Lindor, Steamer projects him at 0.7 WAR, .244/.297/.332 in 73 games.

As frustrating as 2014 was at times, the Indians aren’t far away.  They have a nice core in place, but need to make some impact moves – most likely through trade – to get to the next level.  Indians fans will be hoping Progressive Field isn’t the only thing improved before Opening Day 2015.

User Comments

LeaguePark
October 23, 2014 - 10:09 PM EDT
RABURN SHOULD NOT BE ON THE ROSTER! HE'S FINISHED. MURPHY/RABURN PLATOON IN RF IS WEAK TEA!!!
Steve
October 22, 2014 - 10:34 PM EDT
Some names to toss around that haven't been mentioned:

Adrian Beltre - Dream acquisition to me...great defense, RH...Brantley/Beltre/Santana would be great

Evan Gattis - Braves may deal him and he would certainly bring some RH pop

Michael Cuddyer - Would be perfect #2 hitter if healthy (huge if though)

Joseph
October 22, 2014 - 3:30 PM EDT
Forget about these fringe players. Indians plan to competitiveness should be as follows: 1. Shed Giambi,Aviles and Murphy. 2. Somehow, someway sign either Cruz or Martinez (and stop with the excuses not to). 3. Bring up Lindor and trade either Ramirez or Lindor for pitching help. 4. Bring up Urshela and install him as the third baseman.
Tondo
October 22, 2014 - 11:21 AM EDT
Indians should go after Ramon Santiago then and decline Aviles' option. Santiago should platoon/spell with Chis and Kipnis facing LHP. He's a better defender than Aviles and about the same with the bat. Should also save 1-2mil in salary, which could go to a vet BP arm. Maybe take a flyer on JJ Putz.

As for trade possibilities, not sure he's on the market, but with the prospect surplus in the pocket, why not ask the Rays about Zobrist. Would be a huge upgrade in RF, both with the bat and defensively. He would probably end up a one year rental at a cheap 7.5mil and probably cost a couple of good prospects. They seem to lack at C, 1B, SS and corner OF and BP arms. They seem like a good match to trade with. Would Naquin + Gonzalez + CC Lee/Adams get it done? Probably would want a more ML ready piece and ask for JRam+
Matthew
October 22, 2014 - 11:01 AM EDT
C L,

I wasn't saying Victorino was some kind of savior, just saying he's a realistic target, because I believe Boston would be willing to part with him without the Tribe giving up a significant piece of their future. To get Van Slyke, the Tribe would have to give up a serious prospect or two. I'm not opposed to such a move, just trying to be realistic here. Victorino is in the final year of a 3 year deal. The Indians can afford to take on some salary this year but *not* next season, so the move would make some sense from a financial standpoint.

Also, calling Victorino "often injured" is a bit misleading. He played 144 games per season from 2006-2013 before missing significant time last year for the first time in his career. "Once injured" would be more accurate. Also, Van Slyke had 11 homers this season, and only 20 bombs in 200 career games. Let's not pretend he's Albert Belle.
Tony
October 22, 2014 - 8:39 AM EDT
It is pretty obvious where the target is this offseason. Murphy, Bourn, Swisher, Kipnis etc are not going anywhere and will be in the lineup next year. The Indians will look to get a right-handed bat (or switch-hitter) with some pop to mix into right field with Murphy. Raburn will be limited more to a RHed Giambi role and DH more. And they will look for a defensive oriented 3B who can hit some and hits RHed or is a switch-hitter. Chisenhall becomes trade bait or a damn good 10th guy off the bench playing 3B, 1B, LF, RF and DH (if they try him in the OF).
C L Who
October 22, 2014 - 1:24 AM EDT
Victorino? A 34 year old, often injured, and no longer possessing power outfielder, will give the Tribe a lift?

Surely this is a joke or a dream.....especially since this Victorino earned 13 MM per year on his last contract.

Trade for Scott Van Slyke....better, cheaper, younger, more (much more) power......and just as right handed as Victorino.
Matthew
October 22, 2014 - 12:10 AM EDT
I wonder if Victorino might be a reasonable trade target for the Tribe this offseason. With Castillo, Betts, Bradley, Cespedes, Craig and Nava, the Red Sox may be willing to move him.

He missed most of last year due to injury, but was pretty damn effective in 2013. He only has 1 year left on his deal, which as we've discussed is the kind of deal the Indians have to focus on this offseason. He gave up switch hitting in 2013 and only bats righty now, so he could be a good platoon partner with Murphy, allowing Swisher to be a full-time DH.

I'll admit I don't have any idea what kind of prospect return the Red Sox would be looking for, or whether they'd be willing to eat any of his salary, but it seems to make sense for a lot of reasons.
Roger
October 21, 2014 - 11:51 PM EDT
sorry 67 games won by madison baumgartner
Roger
October 21, 2014 - 11:50 PM EDT
this may not be as good of a comparison on paper as it appears on television and i am fully aware that at age 25 madison baumgartner has won 7 games and TJ House hasnt had near the success he has had however when you measure the herky jerky delivery style, similar 93-95 mph veloscity both about the same size, and of courss both left handers, so why not speculate that new camera idea he is working on may in fact give him an additional tool to hone his pitching number stranger things have happened in the game of baseball. no one dreamed that Corey Kluber would become the pitcher he has become just by tweaking his style and adding miner nuances to his arsennel to disrupt the timing of the batter. Stranger things have happened in this crazy game. Who would have ever thought that a team like cleveland in a small market could afford to get vitually nothing out of opening day starter Masty and not miss a beat with corey stepping to the head of the class. spring 2013 i did predict great things for scott kazmir. I was right then even a weather man gets it right two days in row once in a while.
Matthew
October 21, 2014 - 11:24 PM EDT
Homer--

This is only an abbreviated selection of the Steamer projections. Here's a link to the full list, which projects the Indians for 85-77.

http://www.fangraphs.com/projections.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&type=steamer&team=5&players=0
Homer
October 21, 2014 - 11:10 PM EDT
Using those projections it appears the Indians will win 71 (?) games next yr. That's tough, so is projecting out a yr in advance.
anonymous
October 21, 2014 - 6:46 PM EDT
RF, DH and bench are an issue for sure.
==========================

Agree Matthew. RF needs a trade badly. Then, the bench improves by Murphy going there and pushing Rayburn to AAA, Swisher to PH and DH. Infield backup improves with Ramirez and Urshela, while not picking up Mike Aviles option. DH improves with healthier Swisher plus Chiz.
Mike
October 21, 2014 - 6:31 PM EDT
Wow- what's happening in the pen?!

As far as right field goes, I'd dearly love to trade for Jose Bautista but I don't see it happening. I'd even live to get Khris Davis but that probably won't happen either. Barring a big deal, I'm betting on an in season 2015 trade, because it's easier to find counter parties then. But I am hoping for a right hand hitting RF in my Christmas stocking.

At third, I hope to see a tough competition between Urshela and Chiz, with (ideally) both making the team.

Other than those points I'm pretty enthused by these projections: no terrible WAR and plenty of upside possible. Regression for Brantley can easily be offset by a little better performance from Kipnis and Swisher. Spreading out the offense would score more runs too.
Matthew
October 21, 2014 - 5:40 PM EDT
Indians Starting Pitchers accumulated 50* pitcher wins in 2014. Why is 53 stupid in 2015?

*8 different pitchers started a game for the Indians this season. Those 8 pitchers accumulated 56 wins, but 6 were in relief appearances by Carrasco McAllister and Tomlin.
matt underwood
October 21, 2014 - 4:56 PM EDT
53 wins when you add up the wins by the pitching staff.

this is stupid
Matthew
October 21, 2014 - 1:48 PM EDT
Well, bench players aren't starters. so it's actually 6 of 9, not 5 of 13. And it's actually 7 of 9 when you consider that they are projecting a timeshare between Ramirez and Lindor totaling 2.3.

RF, DH and bench are an issue for sure.
C L Who
October 21, 2014 - 1:26 PM EDT
2 or more is a WAR starter in the lineup. We have 5 of those, out of 13. Surely the bench, RF, and 3B can be upgraded without breaking the bank.

These projections indicate disaster in the pen, as none of the pen crew received more than 0.6 and most were .2 and .3. By comparison, Joe Smith last year was 2.5 WAR.

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