Results tagged ‘ Michael Brantley ’
The morning started out with a little rain, but didn’t hold the squad from getting in a good day’s work. Nick Maradone, Nick Hagadone, Carlos Carrasco & Danny Salazar all faced live hitters as the guys prep for Tuesday’s spring opener.
-Photos by Dan Mendlik
We brought the Twitter Mirror to Photo Day and managed to capture some pretty stellar selfies. Flip through our slideshow to enjoy the return of a rally stache, a Cy Kluber stare down and some GQ worthy poses.
Update: This post has been updated on March 24 to reflect Sports Illustrated selecting the Indians as a favorite to win the World Series.
Could MLB see another “Indian Uprising?”
Cleveland hasn’t won a World Championship since 1948 but boasts loads of talent, with leftfielder Michael Brantley, first baseman/designated hitter Brandon Moss, first baseman Carlos Santana and reigning AL Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber, who went 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 269 strikeouts last season.
Update: This post was updated on March 9 to reflect Jon Morosi’s ranking the Indians No. 4 overall in MLB.
Update: This post has been updated on March 2 to reflect more national media picking the Indians to do big things.
Spring Training is right around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking baseball. Looking to build off two straight winning seasons, the Tribe is poised for a breakout season according to some prominent national baseball writers.
They could stand to avoid another slow start. Throwing out a bad April, the Indians went 74-60 last season. The defense should be better, as should Jason Kipnis at the plate. Carlos Santana not trying to play third base will help him avoid a slow start and Carlos Carrasco’s hot finish looked pretty legit.
Grantland’s Jonah Keri, meanwhile, has the Indians No. 5, too:
Now this is a bandwagon I will not be trying to slow down. Put it this way: Last year, the Indians won 85 games despite an injury-plagued Jason Kipnis flukishly hitting like a 75-year-old Rey Ordonez and the combination of first baseman Nick Swisher, utility man Mike Aviles, and outfielders Ryan Raburn, Michael Bourn, and David Murphy providing nearly 2,000 plate appearances worth of sub-replacement-level performance. Three of those five guys have been relegated to bench duty this year, while Bourn and Swisher still look to be significant contributors, albeit on a short leash. The addition of Brandon Moss plus a healthy Kipnis could significantly boost results for a team that finished seventh in the AL in runs scored and ninth in homers last year. Meanwhile, the rotation includes defending Cy Young winner Corey Kluber alongside not one, not two, but three starting pitchers who look like prime breakout candidates: Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, and Carlos Carrasco. Combine the revitalized offense with a potentially fantastic group on the mound and you have an extremely dangerous club — one that might very well end Detroit’s AL Central reign.
Bob Nightengale, of USA Today had some insight on what the industry has been saying:
Nightengale isn’t the only national writer giving this year’s Indians squad high praise. ESPN’s Dave Schoenfield and Buster Olney have both put the Tribe high on their list of teams this season.
Schoenfield ranks the Indians as his 4th overall team, and 1st in the American League in his annual Spring Training Power Rankings:
Most intriguing player: Corey Kluber beat out Felix Hernandez for the American League Cy Young Award, becoming one of the least likely winners in the award’s history. Simple question: Can he do it again?
Due for a better year: Jason Kipnis was an All-Star in 2013 and finished 11th in the MVP voting but suffered an oblique injury in April and played through it all season. He also hurt his finger working out in December and had surgery but is expected to be ready for spring training. After creating about 101 runs in 2013 he slipped to 53 in 2014. Expect a nice bounce back.
Due for a worse year: Michael Brantley hit .317/.385/.506 and finished third in the MVP voting. While I’m believing in most of the power uptick, he was a .277 hitter entering the season. He should be good again, but I would expect something closer to a 5-WAR season than a 7-WAR one.
I’m just the messenger: The Indians did not have a good defensive outfield in 2014, ranking 29th in the majors in defensive runs saved at minus-37. They ranked last in ultimate zone rating at minus-39.9 runs, so different metrics agree that they were lousy in the outfield. Have they fixed the problem? Not necessarily. The biggest culprit was David Murphy at minus-17 DRS; Michael Bourn was rated at minus-6 and Brantley at minus-3. Of the various subs, all rated below average except Tyler Holt. Bourn and Brantley are slated to start again in center and left, but right field is open. Considering Murphy didn’t hit either, it seems unlikely he wins the job on a regular basis. Brandon Moss can play out there and he’s rated at plus-3 runs over the past three seasons, but he’s also coming off hip surgery. Cleveland’s best bet is for better performances from Bourn and Brantley but don’t be surprised if Holt ends up getting a lot of time in the outfield.
The final word: Picking the Indians to win the Central isn’t really a radical pick — they won 85 games last season and 92 in 2013. The offense should be above average, especially if Kipnis and Moss are healthy. And while the defense is questionable (last in the majors in overall DRS), the young rotation has come together. Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar and T.J. House should be an excellent five-man group, with depth from Floyd and Zach McAllister. Second-half stats aren’t always predictive, but the Indians had the best rotation ERA in the AL after the All-Star break. Jose Ramirez or rookie Francisco Lindor will be an upgrade defensively at shortstop. Brantley, Carlos Santana, Kipnis and Yan Gomes are right in their peak years. Go support your team, Cleveland.
Olney, whose ESPN Insider article praises the new experiment of 6:10 start times, citing the ballpark’s location and keeping people in the city, is a good read for fans as well.
Think how much went badly for Cleveland in 2014. Jason Kipnis had a terrible, injury-plagued season, and so did Nick Swisher. Carlos Santana played himself off third base early in the year, and Asdrubal Cabrera struggled so much defensively at shortstop that the Indians moved him before the deadline so they could install Jose Ramirez. John Axford was signed to be the closer, but lost the job early in the year.
Despite all of that, the Indians weren’t eliminated until the final week of the season and closed with 85 victories, after winning 92 in 2013.
So 81 wins? This team is better than that, with Corey Kluber now leading the Indians’ staff, with Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer continuing to improve, with Cody Allen locked in at the closer, with Michael Brantley and Santana now established as lineup anchors, with Kipnis coming back and Yan Gomes ranking among the league’s best catchers. The defense, the worst in the majors last year, is going to be better.
The AL Central might be the best division in the majors, but as of this morning, I’m leaning toward picking Cleveland. Eighty-one wins seems well within their reach.
SI’s Fansided writer M. Carman highlights the Tribe as a prime dark horse to surprise the league http://fansided.com/2015/02/23/5-dark-horse-teams-2015-mlb-playoffs/2/
“Detroit is the near consensus favorite in the revamped AL Central. The White Sox have added a Jeff Samardzija and David Robertson. The less heralded Indians are ready to steal the Central crown.”
Hall of Famer, Peter Gammons also feels strongly about the Indians’ chances to compete this year. We think? These are his 4 teams that will make the LCS come October:
MLB.com National writer Tracy Ringolsby likes the Indians philosophy of standing pat, on a team that has promise. In a division where there’s been a lot of player turnover, the Indians are content.
In case you need a reminder, pitchers and catchers report Wednesday!
Thanks to @CLERallyChicken, one of our most engaged followers on Twitter, we have some Valentine’s Day cards from Tribe players!
Share with friends, loved ones, etc. to make this Valentine’s Day a happy one!
Tickets: General admission tickets are $10, and available at Indians.com/TribeFest. Fans can guarantee autographs by bundling autograph tickets with their GA purchase – and they should do soon because autograph sessions are selling out quickly!
Parking: Due to events at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night and Sunday, parking could be both limited and costly. We have a limited supply of $3 parking spots available in the Gateway East garage: If you’ve already purchased tickets for Tribe Fest, call 216-420-HITS and they will add parking to your purchase for just $3. If you haven’t purchased tickets but will, add parking on to your purchase during the checkout process.
Who will be there?: Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, MVP finalist Michael Brantley, Silver Slugger Award winner Yan Gomes, Jason Kipnis, Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Lonnie Chisenhall, Carlos Carrasco, Carlos Santana, Manager Terry Francona and plenty more!
Who will be signing when and where?: All player appearances are subject to change and will be announced shortly before each autograph session.
Promotional schedule announcement: We’ll announce our exciting 2015 promotional schedule on the main stage at Tribe Fest at Noon on Saturday – be there to find out what great stuff we have planned!
Text alerts: Sign up for event updates by texting TRIBEFEST to 38955 (msg/data rates may apply).
Win a trip to Goodyear!: ProTravel and Goodyear Ballpark are giving away a trip to Spring Training! Stop by their booth at Tribe Fest to enter.
Batting cages: Kids can swing like the pros in the batting cages at the ballpark (waivers required).
MLB Advanced Media table: Stop by the Club Lounge (where player photos will take place) to receive a free pair of Indians sunglasses – perfect for thinking of spring!
MLB.com Ballpark app: Make sure to download the Ballpark app from the iTunes store for Tribe Fest and for the 2015 season at Progressive Field! Check in to receive benefits such as:
- Check-in offers: KeyBank will be giving away fun stuff all weekend long to select people who check in on the Ballpark app
- Tribe Fest maps, information
- And plenty more during the season!
Tribe Fest Feud: You can win your way into a game of the feud! Four of our players will split up into two teams, and on Jan. 21, we will run a contest for four fans to win spots on those teams! Stay tuned…
Hashtag: Use #TribeFest on Twitter and Instagram all weekend long to have your Tweets or pictures featured on our big screen!
Twitter takeovers: We’ll have our crew taking over @Indians all weekend – Mark Shapiro on Saturday, and then Terry Francona on Sunday!
#TribeFest Social: In-person with chats with Trevor Bauer (Saturday) and TJ House (Sunday)
- Stay tuned to our Twitter account for how you can win!
Jonah Keri, a long-time national baseball writer who now writes for Grantland — and previously looked inside the Tampa Bay Rays’ approach in book form — recently published his MLB Trade Value column, and writes favorably about three of the Tribe’s best players: Yan Gomes, Michael Brantley and Corey Kluber.
Important note: Keri is not writing that these three players will be traded; they’ll be in Tribe uniforms for many years to come. As we’ve written here, each player is under club control through at least 2017. Keri simply writes that each player is among the most valuable in the game, thanks in large part to the contract extensions we signed Gomes and Brantley to before this season.
Details on each:
No. 25 most valuable contract in baseball: Yan Gomes (NR), C, Cleveland Indians
Aside from the minor leaguers, Gomes is probably the player on this list who has the least name-recognition among casual fans. That won’t be the case for long. Toronto drafted Gomes in the 10th round in 2009 and dealt him in 2012 for Esmil Rogers, a trade the Jays surely regret, and one that contributed to their decision to spend $82 million on Russell Martin this offseason. Gomes has quietly grown into one of the AL’s best all-around players, bashing 21 homers and posting a .278/.313/.472 line in 2014 while displaying strong pitch-framing skills and playing generally excellent defense. He’s 27 years old, he’s owed a paltry $20.95 million over the next five years, and the Tribe would need to spend only another $20 million to lock him up through 2021.
16. Michael Brantley (NR), OF, Cleveland Indians
15. Corey Kluber (NR), SP, Cleveland Indians
I mentioned the Indians’ impressive prospect-thievery skills earlier, and here’s further proof: They got Brantley as a throw-in for CC Sabathia and got Kluber as an afterthought in a random Jake Westbrook–Ryan Ludwick three-way exchange. Not too shabby!
In 2014, Brantley blossomed from a decent all-around player to a .327/.385/.506 one-man wrecking crew who might be even better than his 7.0 WAR indicated. Brantley’s batting average on balls in play spiked to a career-high .333 in 2014, but there’s reason to believe that might not be a fluke: According to ESPN Stats & Info, he ranked eighth in the majors in hard-hit average, trailing only David Ortiz, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Andrew McCutchen, Adrian Beltre, Edwin Encarnacion, and Lucas Duda. At $19 million over the next three years (with an $11 million club option for 2018),1 the 27-year-old has emerged as a cornerstone.
As impressive as Brantley was, though, he took second billing to fellow breakout sensation Kluber, who tossed 235.2 innings, punched out 269 batters, posted a 2.44 ERA, and won the damn Cy Young. Kluber is 28, Indians property for four more seasons, and isn’t even arbitration-eligible yet. Brantley and Kluber earned two of the top four spots on my fake AL MVP ballot for 2014, and should continue earning that kind of recognition for years to come.
ESPN Insider Buster Olney has completed his annual positional rankings, and Indians players fared well: Michael Brantley was the top-ranked left fielder, while Yan Gomes, Jason Kipnis, Corey Kluber and Cody Allen also rated highly. (Olney factored in more than just the 2014 season, hence Kluber’s ranking.)
Since Olney’s blog is an Insider blog, some Tribe fans may not have access to it; here’s a link and Olney’s reasoning behind placing our guys where he has:
No. 1 — Michael Brantley: He was a working definition of consistency in 2014, with 200 hits (Jose Altuve was the only other player to reach that mark), 67 extra-base hits, 52 walks and 56 strikeouts, plus 23 stolen bases in 24 attempts. His OPS before the All-Star break was .901, and afterward it was .876. In September, when the Indians were making one last push for the postseason, he posted a 1.022 OPS. The only position players who scored higher in Fangraphs’ WAR last season were Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen. Brantley finished third in the AL MVP vote, exactly where he should’ve finished.
No. 8 — Corey Kluber: He doesn’t have the long track record of other starters on this list, but it’s hard to overstate how dominant he was last season, with a breaking ball that confounded hitters who were so often behind in the count. Check out these highlights — the run of his fastball, the spin of his breaking ball — from a start he made in July. After the All-Star break, hitters had a .555 OPS against Kluber, third-best in the majors.
No. 7 – Yan Gomes: Gomes is perhaps the majors’ most underrated catcher, and Indians GM Chris Antonetti deserves a ton of credit for making a deal with the Blue Jays for him. The 27-year-old product of Brazil took over from Carlos Santana in the summer of 2013 because of what he can do defensively, and Gomes is really good offensively as well, having posted an .826 OPS in 2013 and .785 last season.
Gomes scores well in the pitch-framing numbers, and deserves a share of the credit for the staff-wide improvement of the Cleveland hurlers.
No. 9 — Cody Allen: A big swing-and-miss reliever, Allen held opponents to a .601 OPS last season. He’s entrenched as the closer in the Indians’ bullpen.
No. 6 – Jason Kipnis: There’s no getting around it: Kipnis had a terrible season in 2014, posting a .240/.310/.330 slash line, and his extra-base hits plummeted from 57 to 32. But we’re giving him a mulligan, given his age (27) and the fact that he suffered an early-season oblique injury that seemed to put him in a hole from which he never climbed out. Maybe he got caught up in the effort of trying to make up for lost time and simply fell into bad habits. Justin Havens sent along these notes:
In 2013, Kipnis posted a .754 slugging percentage on fly balls, with 14 home runs and 9.5 percent of his fly balls turning into homers. Bizarrely, in 2014, he slugged just .301 on his fly balls, with only 4.3 percent (5) of them going for a home run. Perhaps most telling, his average fly ball distance dropped from 290 feet in 2013 to 270 in 2014. How good Kipnis is centers largely around which performance against left-handed pitchers is “real.” See below (chase rate is defined as percent of pitches out of the strike zone that result in swings):
2014: .208 batting average, .244 slugging, 30.1 percent chase rate
2013: .308 BA, .480 slugging, 18.8 percent chase rate
2012: .215 BA, .282 slugging, 21.2 percent chase rate
Last year’s #12DaysofTribe contests were a big success – thanks in large part to the great participation of our loyal social media followers!
Given last year’s success, we’re back this year! We’ll start on Monday, Dec. 8, and here’s a preview of what fun we have in store for you this year!
Monday, Dec. 8: Record your best Tom Hamilton home run call impression.
- We’ll give you a highlight on Monday, and you have to send us a Vine or Instagram video if you calling it in your best Hammy voice.
- Prize: Booth visit to meet Hammy and Rosey at an April or May 2015 game.
Tuesday, Dec. 9: Hashtag contest
- We can’t give you too many details, as we know you’ll cheat, ya buncha cheaters. Stay tuned for Tuesday.
- Prize: Jim Thome replica statue
Wednesday, Dec. 10: Haiku
- We’ll give you a theme on Wednesday, and if you know us, you know we love haikus … You’ll have to get creative here.
- Prize: Terry Francona replica jersey
Thursday, Dec. 11: Vine contest
- You’ll have to accomplish a winter-themed task of our choosing.
- Prize: Kipnis and Brantley bobbleheads
Friday, Dec. 12: Batting stance impression
- We’ll give you a Tribe player, and you send us your best, most creative impression of that guy’s stance
- Prize: Autographed ball
Saturday, Dec. 13: Walk-off homer re-creation
- We’ll give you a highlight, and you’ll have to re-create it.
- Prize: Michael Brantley autographed jersey
Sunday, Dec. 14: Recreate a magical Tribe photo
- We’ll give you a photo from our storied history – perhaps a walk-off celebration? – and you and your friends/family/random people have to re-create it.
- Prize: Winner will “take over” our Instagram at a 2015 game
Monday, Dec. 15: Meme!
- We’ll give you a meme, and you have to top it.
- Prize: Kluber autographed ball
Tuesday, Dec. 16: Photo caption contest
- Prize: Four tickets to a 2015 game at Progressive Field
Wednesday, Dec. 17: Trivia!
- Prize: 2 Larry Doby jerseys
Thursday, Dec. 18: Guess the Corey Kluber faces
- We’ll give you a jar full of Kluber faces and you have to guess how many are in it.
- Prize: Kluber autographed ball
Friday, Dec. 19: Favorite ballpark photos from 2014
- Post to Instagram your favorite photos from Progressive Field in 2014.
- Prize: Lofton jersey/ “ClevelandLAND that I Love” shirt