Cleveland Indians Fantasy Baseball Report: Preseason


Wahoo’s on First gets you ready for fantasy baseball with the Tribe

If you are reading this, it’s not too late, even though Drake would like you to think it is. This is the perfect time to get some fantasy advice on your favorite Indians players. A lot of leagues are getting geared up for the season: some are drafting, getting keepers in, doing mock drafts. We here at Wahoo’s on First are going to start bringing you a new running article every Monday from now till the end of the season where I will give you a stock market watch on some fantasy-relevant Tribesmen, as well as some pick ups around the league.

Since this is our first post, lets get some rankings out of the way. I am going to go through the players you need to now, where they should be going in your drafts and who you might want to keep an eye on. I mostly use ESPN as my fantasy sports site, and because of this I will use their standard set up to describe: 10 teams in a league, one catcher, corner infield (CI from here on out), middle infield (MI) with one utility (U), five outfielders and nine pitchers. Also here is a link to their top 300 rankings, which I will use for this post to highlight where they should be drafted.

The highest ranked Indians player is Michael Brantley, and it should come as no surprise. Coming in at number 22 overall and the 8th outfielder, Brantley is a surefire 2nd or 3rd round draft pick. The MVP runner up had a breakout season last year and looks to continue his mashing ways. Many around the league think that it could be a fluke, but if you look into the numbers, regression doesn’t seem to be a problem for the Indians left fielder. Dr. Smooth had a slash line of .327/.385/.506 with 20 HRs, 93 RBI and 23 SBs. Even with a line of .300/.360/.490, he could go 20/20 and hit in the middle of what is surely to be an improved lineup with the addition of Brandon Moss and healthy seasons out of Jason Kipnis, Michael Bourn, and Nick Swisher.

Corey Kluber flew under many radar’s last year to win the Cy Young award, but he won’t be flying under any this year. Kluber is ranked 31st overall and is the 7th ranked starting pitcher in baseball. Depending on your strategy, Klubot could be coming off draft boards in the 4th round. With a record of 18-9 and an ERA of 2.44 and 269 strikeouts, one could also see some regression for Kluber going into 2015. Predicting wins is a fool’s errand, but 15 wins is easily attainable and the strikeouts will continue to come for the cyborg-turned-pitcher.

A return to health is just what the doctor ordered for Jason Kipnis, who is our next ranked Clevelander. A year removed from a near top 20 ranking, Kipnis will be drafted around the 7th round with his ranking of 65 overall and the 5th second basemen. Some will pick him earlier, based on the fact that some, yours truly included, think second base is shallow. Another possible 20/20 season candidate, Kipnis has been hitting the ball to the opposite field in spring ball, as he did expertly in 2013. A Streamer prediction of .253/.328/.385 definitely holds up his to his value. Buy in early on Kipnis, thank me later.

Carlos Santana is where things really start to get interesting when it comes to strategy. He is the 77th ranked player but is eligible at 1B and 3B. He is the 9th ranked third basemen but only the 14th ranked 1B. Make sure you check with your league and know the rules on eligibility. Most sites let leagues set their own eligibility rules and most are like this: 20 games the previous season or 10 in season. I am in a league where Santana is catcher eligible this year and won’t be next year. Another thing to make sure you check is what categories you play with. In an OBP league, Santana is worthy of a 3rd or 4th round pick.

Sep 22, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians pitcher

Carlos Carrasco

(59) pitches during the third inning against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

A breakout in the second half that seems more and more legit has landed Carlos Carrasco inside the top 100, and I would be looking for him higher. A ranking of 97 overall and 25th for starting pitchers is amazing value for someone that could be the next Corey Kluber. Carrasco has been greatly covered by Wahoo’s on First and you can read pieces by Richard Clark here and a breakdown of Carrasco and Kluber’s sliders by our own Nick Wheatley-Schaller here. Get in on Carrasco before others can.

Even though Terry Francona has said Cody Allen, the best reliever and nominal closer, could be used earlier in games this season, that doesn’t keep him from being one of the best relievers in the fantasy game. 114th overall and in the top 10 of relievers, look for Allen in those precious middle rounds. Many say don’t pay for saves, and therefore you could get someone like Allen in the 13th-15th rounds. 30 saves are very possible for Allen, along with 85 plus strikeouts, maybe more if Francona follows through and puts him in earlier and for longer.

In these rankings, you have to start only one catcher. If you wait on the position, as these rankings end up doing, you can get great value in the 14-15th round with catcher Yan Gomes. Gomes, in his first full year as the starting catcher last year, broke out with 21 HRs and 74 RBIs and a slash line of .278/.313/.472. He will see more games on the bench rather than DH this year, with Nick Swisher returning to health, so his numbers may see a bit of a hit, but 20 HRs and an average close to .280 out of your catcher in round 15 is great value.

More from Away Back Gone

Offseason addition Brandon Moss checks in as the last Indians player in the top 200, coming in at 144 overall and with dual eligibility at 1B/OF he ranks as the 19th 1B and 38th outfielder. A move out of the huge Coliseum in Oakland to the homer-friendly right field fence in Cleveland will serve Moss well. It’s likely he will continue to hit for power and keep a good OBP, and in today’s baseball 30 HRs in the 16th round helps cover risks you may take earlier in your draft.

There are other players that could see value over the season. Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer both look like breakout pitchers, but both have warts to them. Michael Bourn could see a rise in value if his speed returns. Francisco Lindor will be drafted in some leagues that allow you to carry minor league players.

The important thing to do when playing fantasy baseball is to remember it’s supposed to be fun. Having players from your favorite team helps, but make sure you don’t overvalue players like Jose Ramirez, who will be a good baseball player but might not supply fantasy value right away.