MICHAEL BRANTLEY – He is your team MVP. With all due respect to Corey Kluber who we’ll talk about shortly, Brantley is an everyday player and he was the team’s most productive and consistent player from day one until the end of the season. He is the Indians MVP and he should get a lot of votes in the A.L. MVP race as well. I think Mike Trout will win the American League MVP over Victor Martinez, but hopefully Brantley will get the respect he deserves by being on most, if not all the ballots. Here are his numbers:
.327 average – 200hits – 45doubles – 20home runs – 97rbi’s – 23stolen bases – 94runs
As good as those numbers are, it was Brantley’s approach and his ability to handle the pressure of carrying this team offensively to keep them in the A.L. Wild Card race that was most impressive and can’t be over looked.
COREY KLUBER – One of the most dominate pitchers in Major League Baseball this season. Either he or Felix Hernandez will win the A.L. Cy Young award and the case you can make for Kluber is a strong one.
18 wins – Tied for 1st in the American League
2.44 era – That was 2nd best in the A.L. behind “King Felix”
269 strikeouts – That also was 2nd best in the A.L., two behind David Price
235.2 innings pitched – That was 3rd best in the A.L.
Kluber has established himself as the “Ace” of this Indians staff and that’s a good thing moving forward for manager Terry Franco and Mickey Callaway.
YAN GOMES – From not being on the roster at the beginning of last year, to the Indians every day catcher and one of its most productive offensive players this year! Nobody on this Tribe roster has made a greater transformation into an every day contributor more than “Yanimal”, and at a very important position. He ended up 2nd on the team in home runs (21), 3rd on the team in rbi’s (74) and was 3rd on the team amongst everyday players in batting average at (.278). Add in his ability to call games and his above average defensive and strong arm behind the plate, and the Indians are set for a number of years behind the dish with the 27 year old Gomes.
LONNIE CHISENHALL – The former first round pick back in 2008 finally lived up to some of that potential with his best year in the “Bigs”. Playing in 142 games, meaning Terry Francona let him face lefties this year, “Lonnie Baseball” put up very respectable numbers, hitting (.280) which was good for 2nd on the team. He also went deep 13 times and drove in 59 runs. It’s a start in the right direction. He needs to improve on those offensive numbers next year, and get much better with the glove at 3rd base, as he led the team in errors with 18, but all-in-all, a positive year for Chisenhall.
CODY ALLEN – Despite blowing some saves, and yes they were key saves down the stretch, for the most part Allen proved he has the stuff to be a closer in the big leagues. He was 24-28 in save opportunities taking over for John Axford during the season. He also posted a minuscule 2.07 earned run average in 69.2 innings of work. I love the fact that he’s a strike out pitcher at the back end too, racking up 91 K’s this season. The experience he got this year, including the blown saves in pressure situations is only going to help him become a better closer next year.
CARLOS CARRASCO – From starter, to long man, and then back to starter again, Carrasco’s performance down the stretch when given the ball every fifth day helped keep the Indians in the Wild Card race. This is what the Tribe’s front office was expecting from him when they acquired him back in the Cliff Lee trade with the Phillies in 2009. He finished the year (8-7, 2.55era) but in the last two months of the season Carrasco was outstanding posting a (5-3) record with a minute 1.70 era. Now if he can pick up next year where he finished this year, then he and Kluber will give the Indians starting staff a nice 1-2 punch in 2015.
HONORABLE MENTION: Brian Shaw, T.J House, Marc Rzepczynski, Carlos Santana, Scott Atchison, David Murphy
TEAM DEFENSE – The Indians were the worst fielding team in all of baseball, committing 116 errors. When you don’t have a juggernaut offense and have trouble scoring runs you can’t give away extra outs like the Indians did consistently in 2014. That has to get better somehow for the team to be a serious playoff contender next year.
NICK SWISHER – Overpaid, underperforming, injured and he’ll be 34 in November. Not a good recipe for success. A guy making over $14 million dollars a year has to play in more than 97 games, hit better than (.208) and strike out less than the 111 times he did this year in just 360 at bats. His leadership and enthusiastic attitude are great in the clubhouse, but what he’s doing on the field is killing this team. I’m not expecting him to hit (.300), but he needs to provide some power and run production in the middle of the order. Here’s the problem though, I don’t know if he’s capable of doing that. He’s on the back nine of his career. The Indians front office may have to accept him for who he is and let him play out his contract, or maybe they can deal him if someone is willing to take chance on him.
JASON KIPNIS – After having an all-star season in 2013 and signing a 6-year/$52.5 million dollar contract in the off season, Kipnis came out and had an extremely disappointing 2014 season. He hit just (.240 – 6hr – 41rbi’s). As one of the cornerstone members of this team for the distant future, Kipnis needs to reevaluate himself and come back next year and be a productive top of the order player for the Indians to be in the playoff hunt.
MICHAEL BOURN – Like the Indians other big money free agent signing last year, Nick Swisher, Bourn has been a disappointment so far. You expect your leadoff hitter to get on base and cause havoc. That’s hard to do when your on base percentage is only (.314). Bourn was supposed to set the table for this offense, steal bases (only 10 this year) and score runs (only 57 this year), he’s done none of that. Looking like another waste of money so far and not getting any younger (he’ll be 32 in December), the Indians front office may have to think about Bourn the same way they will be thinking about Swisher this off season, can they trade him?
RYAN RABURN – Like Kipnis, here’s a guy who got a contract extension in the offseason and then totally tanked during the season. The Indians needed his rat handed bat this year and he failed to deliver, hitting just (.200) with 4 home runs and 22 runs batted in. And let’s not forget his adventures in the outfield catching and throwing the baseball. They didn’t pay him a ton of money like Kipnis, Bourn or Swisher, but he was expected to do much more and failed miserably.
ASDRUBAL CABRERA and JUSTIN MASTERSON – Both players were expected to be major contributors in their walk years and ended up choking when the contract pressure was on and thus the Indians made the right move in dealing both of them before the trade deadline. While Kluber stepped up and became the ace of this staff that Masterson couldn’t be, the shortstop position is still a big question mark. Fansisco Lindor is the heir apparent there, but will he be ready in 2015?
FRONT OFFICE – Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti failed in their assessment of their own talent, thinking that the players on the current roster would improve enough to where they didn’t need to make any major offseason moves after qualifying for the playoffs a year ago. That ended up costing the Indians a playoff spot, as they missed getting into the post-season by just 3 games. A big right handed bat and more is needed on offense as they head into the 2015 season. They can’t afford to sit idly by and expect that everything will improve from within again.