Cleveland Indians: Projections have Tribe winning a very weak AL Central

Cleveland Indians Terry Francona (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
Cleveland Indians Terry Francona (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images) /

Fangraphs’ projections have the Cleveland Indians winning a very weak AL Central despite the fact their roster isn’t as good as it was one year ago.

The Cleveland Indians have been exciting as watching paint dry this offseason, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be in playoff contention come fall., an analytically oriented baseball statistics site, predicted the Tribe will run away with the AL Central division, topping the Minnesota Twins by 11 games.

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Barring an unforeseen deal, the Indians won’t be making a surprise addition to bolster the outfield, as the organization appears to be taking a “fingers crossed” approach. 

The cold hard dose of reality delivered to Tribe fans this morning from Fangraphs is that the starting outfield will consist of Jordan Luplow in left, Leonys Martin in center and Tyler Naquin in right.

Even more concerning is that the bullpen is projected to have a WAR of a COMBINED 2.5. Brad Hand (1.2) is the only player with a  WAR even close to 1.0.  Tyler Olson and Neil Ramriez are projected to have the next highest WAR totals in the pen, with marks of 0.3.

Because Tribe fans need some positivity in their lives, take solace in that maybe the Tribe could get lucky in the bullpen. Of all the position groups in baseball, bullpens are the trickiest to predict. Guys come out of nowhere and are lights out one years, only to flame out the following the season.

The website surprisingly predicted the Indians will win 93 games next season, which is two more than the Tribe won en route to the Central title in 2018. Few would’ve picked that number, considering it’s widely viewed the Indians got worse this offseason.

The other takeaway from Fangraphs predictions is just how bad the Central is going to be next season.

The second-place Twins are projected to win just 82 games. The Royals and White Sox are being penciled in for 70 wins, while the Tigers round things at 69 victories.

Looking back at the Glory days of the mid-to-late 1990s, the Central Division was awful, which worked out, because the Indians were loaded.

However, there was the 1997 campaign that saw the Indians win the Central with only 86 wins. That squad had just a 3.0 game lead on the White Sox at the All-Star break, but Chicago’s ownership sold on its roster and the Tribe staved off the sox by six games to win the division.

Back to 2019, and advanced statistical projections have the season coming down to the Tribe and Twins, and neither team is spending this offseason.

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The Indians may add a piece or two at the trade deadline, as the club’s made a late summer trade in each of the last three seasons, adding Andrew Miller, Jay Bruce and then Brad Hand.