The Cleveland Indians 2013 roster should provide viable mixed league position players, but there is little help for your team in the pitching category.
This article will examine the Indians projected starting roster and determine whether and how each player can help your fantasy team.
C/1b: Carlos Santana
2012 5 X 5 line: AVG .252, Runs 72, HR 18, RBI 76, SB 3
2013 Yahoo! Average Draft Position: 80.2 (Round 7.7)
2013 Yahoo! Average Auction Cost: $14.8
Carlos Santana is currently rating as the fourth catcher off the board in Yahoo! drafts, which may be overdrafting him based on reputation. According to Yahoo!'s player ranker, he finished 2012 as the 9th-rated catcher last year, behind such players as Wilin Rosario, Yadier Molina, and AJ Pier(*&(^(*^, whom you can get a whole lot later in your draft. With Santana, you're paying for his 27 home run 2011, with no guarantee he can put up those numbers again. The good news for Santana is that he will likely be batting further down in the order this year, which may take off some of the pressure from batting cleanup last year. Better good news is that he improved last year in the second half, batting .281 with 13 of his 18 home runs in the latter part of the season, much of it after being dropped to #5 in the order, where he put up a .301/ .417 / .500 slash line.
One advantage of Carlos Santana over many catchers is that he will get few days off, often starting at DH when he's not catching because the Indians need his bat in the lineup. He's also been very durable, putting up over 600 at bats each of the last two years. If you value durability and if you believe in the 2011 and second-half 2012 Carlos Santana, then draft him in the 7th or 8th round. His value also goes up if your league substitutes OBP for BA. If you are skeptical, then wait and try to steal Rosario or up and coming star Salvador Perez in a later round. Most likely, the truth lies somewhere between his 2011 and 2012 numbers, with home runs in the low 20s, an average around .260 and runs and RBI both in the high 70s and perhaps low 80s.
1b/OF: NIck Swisher
2012 5 X 5 line (with NYY): AVG .272, Runs 75, HR 24, RBI 93, SB 2
2013 Yahoo! Average Draft Position: 153.1 (Round 14.1)
2013 Yahoo! Average Auction Cost: $4.5
Nick Swisher will be batting cleanup for the Cleveland Indians, behind table setters Michael Bourn, Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera. There's little reason to believe he won't put up similar numbers this year. Most likely, you're drafting him as an outfielder, where his numbers play well as a third or fourth outfielder, especially if you already have speed. Swisher's power splits last year showed him hitting more home runs on the road than in the Yankees' band box, which bodes well for the transition to Progressive Field, and he should be finding the left field home run porch quite often.
2b: Jason Kipnis
2012 5 X 5 line: AVG .257, Runs 86, HR 14, RBI 76, SB 31
2013 Yahoo! Average Draft Position: 62.4 (Round 6.1)
2013 Yahoo! Average Auction Cost: $18.6
Jason Kipnis wore down in the second half of last season, but the presence of Mike Aviles, a more credible backup middle infielder than anyone on the Indians' roster last year, will likely mean more regular days off, with the hope that he stays more consistent down the stretch. He's currently the fourth second baseman off the board on average in Yahoo! leagues, and his combination of power and speed makes him an attractive target. He should hit high in the order, most likely in the number 2 or 3 spot, and with Michael Bourn on base ahead of him, he should be seeing a lot of fastballs, which will likely impact both his power and average. Expect his average to go up, and with a better lineup behind him, expect his runs to go up somewhat as well. Most projections I've seen are expecting his steals to go down into the 20s, but I think we can expect Terry Francona to give Bourn and Kipnis the green light to run a lot.
It is also worth noting that if the Indians have a potential bust among position players, Kipnis is it. He is a prime candidate for the dreaded "sophomore slump" in his second full season, and he's had a terrible spring: (.143 / .196 / .238 with 1 homer). Take Kipnis if he falls to you, but don't take reach for him, and have a backup plan in case he gets off to an extremely slow start.
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera
2012 5 X 5 line: AVG .270, Runs 70, HR 16, RBI 68, SB 9
2013 Yahoo! Average Draft Position: 99.0 (Round 9.1)
2013 Yahoo! Average Auction Cost: $11.7
I heard a respected fantasy podcaster today call Cabrera "the last reliable shortstop on the board," and this pretty much sums it up. He'll likely put up an average in the .270s, 20 or so home runs (+/- 3 or 4) and 10 or so stolen bases. Given the trend back towards defensive shortstops away from offensive shortstops, Cabrera is a solid pick who will give you some power, some speed, and won't kill your average. Most shortstops taken after Cabrera have question marks.
3B: Lonnie Chisenhall
2012 5 X 5 line: AVG .268, Runs 16, HR 5, RBI 16, SB 2
2013 Yahoo! Average Draft Position: 238 (Round 21.6)
2013 Yahoo! Average Auction Cost: $1.3
Chisenhall was off to a good start after being called up last season but then got hit on the wrist by a pitch and missed several weeks before coming back in September. He's a bit of an enigma. He's capable of hitting tape measure shots when he connects, and he ought to be connecting more than he has. In essence, he's trying for the second time to complete his first full season, and if used properly (likely he will be spelled often by Mike Aviles against tough lefties and late in games for defense), he has sleeper potential and could put up 15 to 20 home runs from seventh or eighth in the batting order. You could do a lot worse in the late rounds, especially if you're in an AL-only league. In an auction league, he might be a great late $1 player to toss up for bidding.
OF: Michael Bourn
2012 5 X 5 line (w/ATL): AVG .274, Runs 96, HR 9, RBI 57, SB 42
2013 Yahoo! Average Draft Position: 85.9 (Round 8.2)
2013 Yahoo! Average Auction Cost: $14.4
Speed and runs. That's what you're getting with Michael Bourn. There's no reason to believe that this will change. He's never hit double digit home runs, but he gets on base at a .340, .350 clip and scores runs. He'll be on base for Kipnis, Cabrera and Swisher to knock in. Likewise, his presence on base will ensure that the top of the Cleveland order will see a lot of fastballs.
OF: Michael Brantley
2012 5 X 5 line: AVG .288, Runs 60, HR 6, RBI 63, SB 12
2013 Yahoo! Average Draft Position: 255.3 (Round 23.5)
2013 Yahoo! Average Auction Cost: $1.0
Michael Brantley does a lot of things well enough, but nothing as well as one would think he would. For a centerfielder with speed, he doesn't steal bases well (stole 12, caught 9 times last year). His power is gap power. There is some hope at age 26 that some of those doubles will turn into home runs, but unless you are in a mighty deep league, or an AL-only league, Brantley is not really worth drafting. It tells you a lot about the Indians' season last year that he spent some time batting cleanup. This year, he'll be batting 6th or 7th.
OF: Drew Stubbs
2012 5 X 5 line (w/CIN): AVG .221, Runs 75, HR 14, RBI 40, SB 30
2013 Yahoo! Average Draft Position: 255.4 (Round 23.3)
2013 Yahoo! Average Auction Cost: $1.1
Drew Stubbs will spend most of the time available in right field for the Indians, but will likely not be full time, often spelled by Nick Swisher or Ryan Raburn against tough righthanders. While he was the every day centerfielder with the Reds, his platoon splits indicate that he might benefit from seeing fewer righthanders and more lefties going forward, so adjust your playing time expectations accordingly, as Terry Francona has the roster flexibility to play the platoon splits. When he plays, if he gets on base he will run, and he will probably hit double digit homers. However, as the old adage goes, he can't steal first base. He will almost certainly be a drag on your average, which will be the price you are paying for his speed.
DH/1B/3B: Mark Reynolds
2012 5 X 5 line (w/BAL): AVG .213, Runs 75, HR 14, RBI 40, SB 30
2013 Yahoo! Average Draft Position: 257.5 (Round 23.0)
2013 Yahoo! Average Auction Cost: $1.2
Classic three true outcomes player: (homer, strikeout, walk). If you are in an OBP league, his average will not be a drag due to his ability to take a walk, and he could be a cheap, late source of power, especially with eligibility at both corner infield positions. He's expected to DH mostly and spend some time at 1B. It is highly unlikely he will qualify at 3b to start next year, as the Indians have better defensive options in starter Chisenhall and backup Aviles. Reynolds is another potential $1 player to toss out near the end of your auction to fill that corner infield spot with some cheap power.
Nothing to see here, please move along. Aviles might have some value in the event of a long-term injury at 2b/SS/3B.
Chris Perez (saves) and Vinnie Pestano (holds) are the only Cleveland pitchers that currently merit a roster spot in a 12-team mixed league. In the even of a Perez injury, Pestano has the stuff to be an elite closer, whereas Perez is an adequate one.
Don't waste your time drafting any of the starting pitching unless you are in an AL-only league. Too many question marks. Can Justin Masterson rebound from a subpar 2012? Which Ubaldo Jimenez will show up on any occasion? Brett Myers - pedestrian innings eater. Zach McAllister - pretty good strikeout numbers but the rest of his numbers are nothing great. Scott Kazmir? Who knows? Any one of them could put together a good string of starts and make themselves relevant, but they are all pretty much wait and see. Carlos Carrasco will likely be given a chance to put some innings on his TJ-repaired arm in case one of the above falters.
Trevor Bauer will likely be up in the Cleveland rotation sooner rather than later (perhaps as early as June) and merits strong consideration in keeper leagues. Baseball America ranks Bauer as the #14 prospect for 2013. The centerpiece of a major offseason trade, the Indians expect Trevor Bauer to anchor their rotation for the next few years. Otherwise, there is little in AAA to get excited about. Most of the Indians' high-ceiling prospects are at AA and below, with arrival times 2014 or later.
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