2018 Indians: Cleveland Loaded for Another Impressive Run

Mark Lathrop

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 12:24 PM UTC

Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018 12:24 PM UTC

The Cleveland Indians had several breakout performers in 2017 in winning the AL Central again. Mark Lathrop takes a look at their returning roster in relation to their higher projected win total.

We will be breaking down each division team-by-team as we approach the 2018 MLB season to identify futures value and upcoming betting trends. Today we will take a look at the Cleveland Indians out of the AL Central. The Indians flew past their 92.5-win total in 2017 with a spectacular 102-win season on the way to another division title before blowing a 2-0 series lead to the Yankees in the ALDS. The market thinks another good season is in order, with a win total that has been increased to 94.5 at books such as Bovada.

Pitching Staff

The Indians appear to have an abundance of riches in their starting rotation, with 4 starters looking to break camp with expectations to put up 2 WAR or more, and another in Danny Salazar whom should enter the rotation a few months after the season starts. Salazar is still projected to put up 2.1 WAR in just over 100 IP. The pitching staff is anchored by 2017 Cy Young winner Corey Kluber (also won it in 2014), who reduced his fastball usage to fantastic results. He put up an insane 2.50 FIP last season and is expected to put up 5.2 WAR in 2018. The Indians' bullpen has the best setup man in baseball with lefty Andrew Miller and his 1.44 ERA over the last two seasons. Cody Allen is expected to return to the closer’s role after putting up 30 or more saves in the last three seasons.


The Indians made a sly move over the offseason in picking up free agent first baseman Yonder Alonso. He benefited greatly from the fly-ball phenomenon in 2017, and now he goes to a better hitter’s park for his profile. Alonso put up 2.4 WAR in 2017 and is expected to regress a bit, but not much. Speaking of fly balls, the always good Francisco Lindor also made the adjustment in 2017 and increased his home-run output from 15 to 33 over the prior year. The shortstop played good defense and was a threat on the basepaths, but his recent power surge has him projected to put up over 6 WAR in 2018. At 24 years old, he is not an injury risk yet, either.

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Left hand yellow. Right foot blue.

Okay @Lindor12BC, now you're just showing off. pic.twitter.com/DRhadIPDKp

— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) February 26, 2018

Wild Cards and Betting Trends

There are two breakout players from 2017 who have the ability to take the Indians over the top in 2018. One is starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, who had an amazing 2nd half last year after making a pitch selection change. He stopped throwing his cutter and instead used a slider, the results of which were a 3.68 FIP in the last half of the season. The other breakout player is infielder Jose Ramirez, who after a great 2016 and a .312 AVG added power in 2017 to the tune of 29 bombs along with improving his average to .319. Ramirez is a little guy, but so is Dustin Pedroia, and we all know Pedroia is a good player and former MVP. If Bauer and Ramirez can put together the same campaigns as in 2017, I will consider the Indians a lock to win the AL Central.

Current Win Total: 94.5Best Line Offered: Bovada
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