2014 Cleveland Indians Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

2014 Cleveland Indians Preview

The 2014 Cleveland Indians have potential in several areas, although most of their players will come off the draft boards a little later on Draft Day.

There are, of course, a few above average players, like Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana, but for the most part, the remainder of the team will be lineup fillers late in your draft.

Next to each player are the 2014 RotoBanter Rankings. I’ll use the ESPN rankings according to my projections for this post, but you can also check out the Yahoo and NFBC rankings in the same embedded file on the site.

Projected 2014 Cleveland Indians “Go-To” Lineup:

Jason Kipnis, 2014 Cleveland Indians Preview

Jason Kipnis could pass up Robinson Cano in the second base rankings this season. Photo Credit: Keith Allison

  1. Michael Bourn, CF (196)
  2. Nick Swisher, 1B (239)
  3. Jason Kipnis, 2B (31)
  4. Carlos Santana, 3B/DH (110 as a catcher)
  5. Michael Brantley, LF (99)
  6. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS (152)
  7. David Murphy, RF (309)
  8. Yan Gomes, C (269)
  9. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B (Ryan Raburn/Mike Aviles) (435)

Projected Pitchers:

  • SP1 Justin Masterson (122)
  • SP2 Corey Kluber  (155)
  • SP3 Danny Salazar (88)
  • SP4 Zach McAllister (399)
  • SP5 Carlos Carrasco
  • Others: Shaun Marcum, Trevor Bauer (n/r)
  • Setup: Vinnie Pestano, Cody Allen
  • Closer: John Axford

Fantasy Studs: Jason Kipnis, Danny Salazar, Carlos Santana

As of now, Jason Kipnis is really your only elite option on the team as a 20/30-plus candidate at second base. In fact, I have him extremely close to Robinson Cano in the ESPN Rankings (three slots and only $0.14 apart) with Cano’s transition to the Mariners.

As it relates to the rotation, the Indians have tree top-50 starters, including elite second year, Danny Salazar. I truly think with health and no control drop-off, he could be a top-20 SP next year. He has an elite high fastball but still induces a ton of grounders.

Danny Salazar, 2014 Cleveland Indians

Indians SP Danny Salazar had a 2.52 ERA with 33 strikeouts in five starts (25 IP) in September last season. Photo Credit: Brottj316

Breakout Candidates: Yan Gomes, Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber

Regarding Santana’s transition to 3B (and we’ll see), I’m a fan. I like Gomes quite a bit. While I consider him the “replacement value” catcher in an ESPN league, his value will jump quite a bit with a full season. He could be the 11th-best catcher after Buster Posey, Wilin Rosario, Joe Mauer, Jonathan Lucroy, Yadier Molina, Carlos Santana, Salvador Perez, Brian McCann, Matt Wieters and Wilson Ramos (Jason Castro and Miguel Montero in front of him at the moment). I’d call Gomes a breakout candidate.

Justin Masterson swapped 7% fastballs for 7% sliders and because it’s a dominating slider, it did him wonders. If he sticks with the repertoire change, he could/should back up his 2013. He also has one of the most devastating sinkers in the game.

Corey Kluber doesn’t look dominating. In fact, it seems like sometimes his delivery starts near his ear with little effort, but his stuff induces some great sabermetric outcomes (grounders and swing-and-miss stuff).

Bust Candidates: Starting Rotation

Salazar has limited experience and some worried about his initial control in the majors. If Masterson’s repertoire reverts, then he’s back to a 4.00-plus ERA and 1.30-plus WHIP.

Kluber isn’t dominating. Last year was his lowest BABIP (still not a great .329) and his lowest LOB% yet  (72.9%). If both those regress back to his career rates, rather than trend positively, then we’re talking 4.05+ ERA and 1.30+ WHIP.

The Prospects: Francisco Lindor, Clint Frazier, Trevor Bauer, Dorssys Paulino, Francisco Mejia

They have two uber-exciting prospects in Lindor and Frazier, albeit little and no AA experience respectively.

Trevor Bauer (38) and Dorssys Paulino (95) also make Jonathan Mayo’s top 100 prospects on MLB.com. Lindor is No. 5 and Frazier No. 51, but the bat speed should propel him up the rankings.

Keep an eye on young catcher Francisco Mejia, as well. While the power could take time to develop he did hit four homers, but I believe three were within a few days.

What You Should Know

I’m not sure the 2014 Cleveland Indians will be able to hold off other teams for the second Wild Card next year, but from a Fantasy perspective, I wouldn’t mind having three-fourths of the lineup and three-fifths of the rotation on my Fantasy team.

Dan owns Rotobanter.com. He develops year-to-year player projections, ranks them for ESPN, Yahoo and NFBC. You can follow him on Twitter @Rotobanter.

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