clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How does the Cleveland Indians outfield & designated hitter stack up with the rest of the AL Central?

New, comments

With the completion of the outfield and designated hitter position, let’s take a quick peek at how the division stacks up as a whole.

Will Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana help lead the Tribe to a top finish in the AL Central?
Will Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana help lead the Tribe to a top finish in the AL Central?
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into this offseason, it appeared that the Tribe could use upgrades in center field, possibly in right and a stop gap for Michael Brantley in left. The designated hitter was solidified when Mike Napoli was signed as that slid Carlos Santana there.

The Indians front office decided not to make any major improvements, but rather went with the approach of hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with a lot of lower level type signings. On the surface, it feels like the outfield is still going to be a place of worry, but let's recap against the division just to see how dire the situation may, or may not, be.

LF

CF

RF

DH

Total

CLE

Brantley/Davis/

Chisenhall/Santana

3

2

3

5

13

CHW

M Cabrera/Eaton/

Garcia/LaRoche

1

3

1

1

6

DET

Upton/Maybin/

JD Martinez/V Martinez

5

1

4

2

12

KC

Gordon/Cain/

Dyson*/Morales

4

5

2

3

14

MIN

Rosario/Buxton/

Sano/Park

2

4

5

4

15

The Tribe itself fares pretty well here as this division looks totally up for grabs. The only real definite statement here is how poorly the White Sox stack up. But as before, a 5-1 ranking can be a bit misleading. Let's just average the Steamer/ZIPS WAR projections (and remember, these are just projections).

WAR (Steamer/ZIPS Average )

LF

CF

RF

DH

Total

CLE

Brantley/Davis/

Chisenhall/Santana

2.6

1.1

1.3

2.0

7.0

CHW

M Cabrera/Eaton/

Garcia/LaRoche

1.0

2.4

0.0

0.1

3.5

DET

Upton/Maybin/

JD Martinez/V Martinez

3.7

0.8

3.4

0.8

8.7

KC

Gordon/Cain/

Dyson*/Morales

3.5

3.8

1.4

1.0

9.7

MIN

Rosario/Buxton/

Sano/Park

1.1

2.1

3.1

1.8

8.1

As above, The Tribe is far from the worst infield. They do come in fourth, though. But the separation from them and the Royals is just 2.7 WAR, which is not all that much. If Brantley plays more of a full season, a lot of that WAR can be made up and quickly.  The Royals have the top mark here, but most of that is from the defensive component of WAR projections.

The Tigers are second, but that is because both projection systems love J.D. Martinez. I feel like he may not repeat it, but that is just a gut feeling. And the Twins total is propped by Miguel Sano, who hasn't yet played a full season and Byung-ho Park, who has not faced MLB pitching yet.   And as above, the White Sox are far off the pace. So I am not sure how they are faring so well in the preseason love from a few writers.

[Note: Just after finishing this article, the White Sox signed Austin Jackson. I am pretty confident he will end up in center field for them. But I have no idea what their actual plans are for the outfield now. Eaton projects to be their best guy, so likely Eaton bumps Avisail Garcia in right. For now I have left the old totals in, but the Jackson signing still only nets another positive 1.5 WAR]

Previous entries: