5 Bold Predictions For The 2017 Cleveland Indians Season

Mar 20, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Brantley (23) throws home during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Brantley (23) throws home during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

5 bold predictions for the Cleveland Indians 2017 season, as the Tribe defends its American League championship.

The Cleveland Indians enter one of their most exciting seasons in recent memory, as the defending AL champs for the first time since the 1998 campaign.

The Tribe is looking to end the longest drought in MLB, and they certainly have a shot, with an dangerous lineup, one of the AL’s top rotations, in addition to the best bullpen.

Sure, there’s going to be some bumps and bruises along the way, but what fun is an MLB season without some ebbs and flows.

Here’s 5 bold predictions for the Indians in 2017…

Brantley Stays Healthy

Michael Brantley‘s return from shoulder surgery couldn’t be going any better. He’s passed the test of playing in three consecutive games and looks to be in great shape.

Indians fans seem to be looking for some affirmation that Brantley is healed and will be a contributor all throughout the season.

Unfortunately, the Indians just don’t know for sure. It seems kind of obvious, but Brantley will play, unless he can’t.

But because the Tribe needs some optimism cast over a spring training that’s been riddled with injuries, you should count on Brantley being around for the long haul.

Carlos Santana Leads The Indians in HR

Carlos Santana belted a career high 34 home runs a year ago, and guess what? He’s in a contract year.

“Slamtana” will go yard 40 times this year, narrowly edging out teammate and friend Edwin Encarnacion.

Manager Terry Francona has figured out how to use Santana, at times, putting him the leadoff spot, while slotting him fifth in the lineup.

Slamtana hit 19 homers when he was the Tribe’s leadoff hitter, and 12 batting fifth. He’ll continue to see time at leadoff because of his ability to draw walks, but you can also look for him hitting behind Encarnacion in the five spot.

Bauer Wins 18 Games

Trevor Bauer put himself into the national conscious because of a drone injury during the 2016 ALCS.

Now, he’s going to become a national story because he’s going to be an 18-game winner.

Bauer, the former No. 3 overall pick in the draft, is poised to take a huge leap in 2017.  He went 12-8 in 2016 after being demoted to the bullpen to start the year.

FoS writer Joe Russo predicted big things from Bauer in his recent mailbag:

"“Forced to pick a major league player, I’ll say Trevor Bauer [is poised to breakout]. Is he mercurial? Yes. Is he at times just weird? Yes, but he is still so young and is just now starting to figure out each component of his approach.Bauer has gotten better every year and was actually a 3.0 WAR pitcher last season according to baseball-reference.com. Going into only his age 27 season, Bauer is well positioned to make a big jump.”"

Joe didn’t say Bauer would increase his single-season win total by six games, but I’m happy to do it for him.

Zimmer Gets His Shot

When Francisco Lindor left for the World Baseball Classic, Bradley Zimmer became the most exciting player in camp.

His athleticism is obvious, as televised games his 6-foot-5 frame gliding through the outfield tracking down fly balls.

Zimmer’s also surprised many at the plate, slashing .358/.424/1.084. He tweaked his batting stance during the Arizona Fall League, and it’s paid off.

If the outfield needed help right now, Zimmer probably would’ve made the team.

Terry Francona told Bradley Zimmer to bang down the door at Class AAA Columbus so the Indians have no choice but to promote him.


The Opening Day outfield is currently composed of Brantley, Abraham Almonte, Tyler Naquin, Austin Jackson and Brandon Guyer, while Lonnie Chisenhall begins the season on the DL.

Hopefully an injury doesn’t occur, and the Indians have no choice to promote him because he’s batting the cover off the ball. Two weeks ago, I thought Zimmer would be a September call up. But now, if someone is struggling and he’s hot, he could get the call a lot sooner.

The Indians Trade For Quintana

Injuries hurt the Indians rotation at the end of the 2016 season, but that won’t be the case in 2017. The Dolans go all in, and Chris Antonetti executes a trade for Jose Quintana. Quintana would also be on the club in 2018, so it’s not like the Tribe’s renting a guy for three months.

Quintana made his first All-Star team in 2016, and went 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA. He also struck out 181 in 208 innings.

The Indians have the prospects to get it done, if they’re willing to pay Quintana the $10.5 million he’s owed this year, and $11.5 million he’s due in 2017.

Next: Indians Mailbag

A rotation of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Quintana, Danny Salazar and Bauer? Best rotation in baseball!