Looking for some late-round value in your Fantasy Baseball draft? Then make sure you have the Cleveland Indians players roster close by!
The Indians roster is full of young talent who underachieved last season, but I’d like to highlight two guys I expect to have very good seasons.
When considering starters for Fantasy Baseball, very few people consider looking at the Cleveland Indians pitching rotation, especially in recent years.
I mean, who would ever think to look at a starter from a team that has had a combined ERA of 4.70 in 2011 (pitchers with 10 or more starts) and 5.36 in 2012 (pitchers with 10 or more starts)?
Masterson of Your Domain
Well, despite having only a combined 23 wins in the past two seasons, don’t sleep on Indians ace Justin Masterson.
Many will tell you that Masterson regressed from his 2011 season (12-10, 3.21 ERA, 216 IP, 158 Ks) and that his 2012 campaign was dreadful. His stats from last year don’t do a lot to disprove that, at least on the surface.
Let’s look a little deeper though.
In 2012, Masterson started 34 games for the Tribe. He managed an 11-15 record with a 4.93 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 206.1 innings. Not exactly Cy Young-award winning numbers, but Masterson was much better than that, and the proof lies in those numbers.
Of Masterson’s 34 starts, he allowed 6-8 runs in nine of them. In those nine starts, he posted an ERA of 12.72. Now for the value. In Masterson’s other 25 starts he posted an ERA of 2.69 (no, that’s not a typo). In 16 of those 25 starts, he posted an ERA of 3.00 or less. In 11 of those 16 starts, his ERA was under 2.00. He had four games where he did not allow one earned run and has had 140 or more strikeouts in each season since 2010. Being the ace of the Indians’ rotation, the only thing that will keep him from starting is an injury, so the innings and starts will be there.
Not sold yet?
In 2012, Masterson finished 16th in terms of run support. That’s 16th-worst in the league. The Indians’ offense managed to only put up 3.82 runs per start for Masty. For reference, St. Louis’s Lance Lynn led all qualified starting pitchers with 5.9 runs of support per start.
New-look Cleveland Indians Players
This leads me to the other reason Masterson will have a much improved season. The Indians overhauled their batting order coming into 2013. With the additions of Nick Swisher, Drew Stubbs, Mark Reynolds and Michael Bourn, the Indians (and Masterson) should find themselves winning more ballgames.
Will he be atop the Cy Young list for 2013? Probably not, but look for Masterson to put up good numbers (16-18 wins is not out of the question) and help you win a championship.
Big fan o’ Santana
Speaking of offense, look for Carlos Santana to have a big year this season. The switch-hitting slugging catcher already separates himself from some of his other mask-wearing colleagues by also being eligible at first base.
That’s not why I’m high on Carlos, not that many are that down on him (he is ranked as the third-best Fantasy catcher on this very website). Despite his power numbers regressing from 2011 (27 home runs, .457 SLG) to 2012 (18 home runs, .420 SLG), two very important things did go up. In 2012, Santana raised his on-base percentage to .365 (up from .351) and his batting average went from .239 to .252.
He also managed to decrease his strikeouts from 2011 to 2012. All of this was done despite having next to no protection in the lineup. This year, Santana will be surrounded by much more muscle and talent in the aforementioned additions. This means he will (or should) have more opportunities with guys on base and will see more hittable pitches.
Numbers in the range of 25-30 home runs, 80-90 RBI and 70-80 runs aren’t out of the question, and look for him to increase his batting average again. His games might take a bit of a hit with better options at first base this year (at least offensively), but Santana will be as good as advertised this year, maybe even better. And he’s definitely the best Fantasy option among all of the Cleveland Indians players.
Dave is the lead writer for a Cleveland sports website called CTownandDown.com. C-Town and Down offers a unique and honest opinion on the Cleveland sports scene. Cleveland sports told by those who know it best, Clevelanders.
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.