Sep 16, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall (8) is congratulated by right fielder Nick Swisher (33) after hitting a home run against the Kansas City Royals in the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Indians With the Greatest Impact
After taking a few months off to regroup after a very long season, the committee of one is back at it. This time, we’re ranking members of the Indians franchise based on a whole lot of nothing. Actually, these super official rankings are based on a lot more than that, but why should I give away all of our secrets? If I did that, then you wouldn’t need me to arbitrarily tell you who is most important to the Cleveland Indians. Trust me, you need me.
With that said, I present to you the first official set of Cleveland Indians Power Rankings for 2014. As always is the case with everything here at Wahoo’s on First, if you disagree, let us know. If you think you could come up with a better list, then shout it from the rooftops. Knowing what you think about these rankings makes the whole process that much more entertaining for everyone. If you want to reach us, you can do it in the comments below, hit us up on Twitter @wahoosonfirst, or comment on our Facebook page.
1. Justin Masterson: While everyone debates what the Indians should or shouldn’t do this offseason, one thing is clear. The Indians will need to make a decision in regards to Justin Masterson’s pending free agency. Will the extend him, will they trade him, or will they let things play out and see what happens. Whatever they decide, the result of the decision will be sure to shape the franchise for years to come.
2. Carlos Santana: Just when we thought we had heard everything, now reports are that Carlos Santana will be in the running to play third base this season. With the Indians planning on starting Yan Gomes at catcher, they need a place to play Santana. Given Lonnie Chisenhall‘s struggles, it would appear the Indians are trying to kill two birds with one stone. One has to wonder whether the decision to play Santana at third could have a negative effect on everything.
3. Jason Kipnis: Undoubtedly, the heart and soul of the Indians is Jason Kipnis. He is the team’s best all around player and he just keeps getting better. After making the all-star team and breaking out in a big way nationally, the Indians might finally have a super-star on their roster. As long as he can stay healthy, Kipnis should put up enormous numbers in 2014.
Sep 3, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (22) scores a run in the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
4. Trevor Bauer: Call me crazy, but with the recent departure of Scott Kazmir and expected loss of Ubaldo Jimenez, Trevor Bauer’s development becomes that much more important. Reports are that Bauer finally has his mechanics under control and looks good so far in his offseason workouts. Given their current situation, the Indians could use Bauer in a big way in 2014, even if it’s only as the number five starter.
5. John Axford: The Indians didn’t spend a lot of money on John Axford, but don’t be fooled. Stepping into the closer’s role is a huge deal. The Indians are going to rely on Axford to be the anchor of a bullpen that will have a lot of new faces in it in 2014. If he can return to the dominant form he once showed with the Brewers, this could turn into the ultimate steal as far as free agent signings go.
6. Lonnie Chisenhall: The Indians are hoping and praying that 2014 is the year in which Lonnie Chisenhall finally puts it all together. After all, the Indians best lineup on paper is any one with Chiz in it. His sweet swing and raw power potential are too great to simply ignore. Hopefully he get a fair shot at third base this spring and that the Indians aren’t overly committed to the idea of Carlos Santana playing the hot corner.
7. Danny Salazar: After exploding on the scene in 2014, it is expected that Danny Salazar will be in the rotation at the start of the 2014 season. With the current state of the rotation and the potential vacancies, the Tribe will need him to step into the rotation on a full-time basis. While he did pitch great, his lack of experience is something to keep an eye on. Will opposing hitters eventually figure him out? Will he get worse before he gets even better? Will the Indians be able to do away with the pitch counts and stretch him out for longer? All of these are factors to take into account with Salazar.
8. Nick Swisher: By all standards, 2013 was a bit of a disappointment for Swisher. After signing a big contract to come back home to Ohio, he struggled mightily for most of the season. A sore shoulder didn’t help things much at all and once he finally got healthy, Swisher began to perform more like the player we all thought we were getting. Can Swisher put 2013 behind him and put together a solid 2014 campaign? Will injuries continue to negatively impact his performance on the field? One thing is for certain, though. With Swisher on the roster the clubhouse will continue to be one of the best in baseball.
9. Asdrubal Cabrera: When it comes to shaping the 2014 roster, no player may have a bigger impact than Asdrubal Cabrera. If the Indians finally decide to trade their struggling shortstop, what players will they receive in return that could help improve the roster? If he is traded, who steps in at short, Mike Aviles, Francisco Lindor, or someone else? If the Indians hold onto A-Cab, can he bounce back after two back-to-back subpar years offensively? This remains the biggest questions surrounding the Indians and could play the biggest role in what happens in 2014.
10. Francisco Lindor: The Indians have come out and said that we probably won’t see Lindor until September call-ups, but how can we be so sure. What happens if they trade Cabrera? What if Mike Aviles can’t handle the every day job? What if they keep Cabrera and he falters yet again? Lindor is a top-notch talent and one whose defensive prowess could offset ant potential decrease in offensive production. Again, they say we won’t see him until September, but I don’t think that’s carved in stone just yet.