Thursday, December 12, 2019

Uncustomed Heroes of 2019: Indians

For the first time since 2015, the Indians did not make the postseason this year, bringing their impressive but scattered decade to a tearful close.

It's not without lack of trying that they missed out- the Indians did their best to catch up to Minnesota for the title, but eventually were left in the dust by Oakland and Tampa for the Wild Card spot. With Kluber out, Bauer in Cincinnati, Ramirez slumping and Kipnis at the end of his rope, there wasn't much room for progress in Cleveland.

Roberto Perez stepped up as a starting catcher, and did...relatively well. Yes, forget for a moment that he led the team in strikeouts- he posted a 3.9 WAR, with 24 home runs- FINALLY some offensive production from the defensive master.
Why Him in 2019?: Proved he could start games in the wake of Yan Gomes' departure.
2020 Prediction: A higher batting average, and more consistent numbers. And, potentially, an All-Star appearance.

 Jordan Luplow was an initial replacement for Michael Brantley, and attempted to bring class to a mostly vacant Cleveland outfield. He did relatively alright, hitting .276 with 38 RBIs and 15 home runs.
Why Him in 2019?: Preceded Oscar Mercado in shaping up the outfield.
2020 Prediction: A starting lineup gig, and potentially some consistent playing time as the team drops to third.
 Slightly overshadowed by Zach Plesac and Shane Bieber was the rise of Aaron Civale, a rookie who had a 2.34 ERA in 10 starts, including 46 strikeouts.
Why Him in 2019?: Had the lowest WHIP on the Indians' rotation.
2020 Prediction: A more concrete rotation spot; upon overflow, possibly bullpen time.
The big feel-good story in Cleveland was Carlos Carrasco returning from leukemia treatments to become an impressive bullpen tool. Despite his less-than-favorable September numbers, the fans welcomed him back with a Comeback Player of the Year award.
Why Him in 2019?: Beat cancer to remain an Indian.
2020 Prediction: A return to the rotation, even if it means diminishing returns.

 Adam Plutko was another 2018 carryover, and made 20 starts this year, finishing with 7 wins, a 4.86 ERA and 78 strikeouts. Not eye-opening, but still impressive for a late-rotation presence.
Why Him in 2019?: Improved on his 2018 numbers, and stood his ground in the wake of rotation injuries.
2020 Prediction: Of the new starters, he has the largest chance of a demotion to relief.

 Speaking of relief, former Pirates starter Oliver Perez is still embracing his role as relief specialist in Cleveland after a strong 2018. Perez' numbers were a slight step down in 2019, with a 3.98 ERA with 48 strikeouts. It's odd to see someone who posted 239 strikeouts in a season in 2004 focus so much on change-ups, but it's working for Perez at 38.
Why Him in 2019?: Proved he's still one of the most consistent relievers of the decade. Yes, HIM.
2020 Prediction: Will sign somewhere, and provide potentially one last season of solid work before retirement.
The big deal with Cincinnati garnered the Indians Logan Allen, Yasiel Puig, and the Franimal himself, Franmil Reyes. Reyes' numbers were...kinda normal for him. .237 in 51 games, 10 homers, 35 RBIs. Not bad, not spectacular.
Why Him in 2019?: Finally filled Cleveland's gaping hole at DH
2020 Prediction: Will make a LOT of new fans in a full season in Cleveland, and will chase 40 homers.

Coming Tomorrow- The Mariners were HUGE in April. Then May came, and it was all downhill from there.

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