(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 16th of 30 major league baseball previews leading up to the opening game on Sunday, April 3. On deck: Miami Marlins.)
Just who are these Cleveland Indians and why does Westgate Las Vegas rate them 16-1 to win the World Series?
All we can say is Oye Como Va – as in Carlos Santana. No not the famed salsa singer, but the Indians’ best offensive player. The DH led the Tribe last year in homers (19) and runs batted in (85). Not big numbers, but solid. And that what the entire Cleveland roster is.
You may not know most of them, but only the Red Sox (12-1) and Yankees (16-1) rank better in the American League. So in the words of Kenny Rogers and the First Edition “something’s burning.” No, not the lefty Kenny Rogers.
The Indians finished third in the AL Central won by defending world champion Kansas City. Their 81-80 record was impressive considering 2014 Cy Young winner Cory Kluber was 9-15. More like sigh than Cy.
The Indians are projected to win 85.5 games, which makes sense since you would expect Kluber to perform more like 2014. Cleveland has a roster filled with capable talent, which explains why management did not do very much buying in the offseason.
Journeyman Marlon Byrd was just invited to spring training camp in Arizona for a look-see. It would not shake up Cleveland’s world or Vegas odds if Byrd stays or flies. But the Tribe could use a power bat.
Where it goes right: That the Indians find a few good pitchers to step up behind Kluber and the entire roster contributes.
Where it goes wrong: That the 2015 version of Kluber shows up. That would be a death blow to any postseason chances.
Projection: In a very tough division, 86 wins might be a bit optimistic. Not out of the realm but a lot of things have to go right.