Over the past two playoff seasons, the Indians have done a fantastic job bringing in talent to deepen a well oiled outfield. The Dolan family has done its fair share of “doaling” out money to reel in free agents, but the Tribe have kept the price of these “past their prime” outfielders down to a minimum. Without Jay Bruce (Mets) and Austin Jackson (Giants) in the outfield, Melvin Upton Jr. needs to step up and take on a more demanding role on the roster. Most fans have their doubts on him returning to his prime, but the proof is in the numbers; the Indians get the most out of their outfielders.
(NEO Sports Insider)
- The SUS Players: There might be a good reason why these players did well, but PED’s don’t help you hit a baseball. Marlon Byrd was only there for the first two months of 2016, but he still managed to hit .270, swat 6 homers, and knock in 19 RBI’s, in minimal playing time. After he was banned for his multiple uses of PED’s, the Indians still honored his $1,000,000 contract because it was light on the books. After his release, it became waiting time for Abraham Almonte to make the team. Abe was suspended for the majority of the year, but when he returned he made an immediate splash. Almonte played great defense, hit a respectable .264, and did a great job on the base paths when he was there. These players might have eclipsed numbers in full seasons, but they still showed their might in minimal time.
(MLB Trade Rumors)
- Trades: When the Indians traded for Andrew Miller, and almost Jonathan Lucroy, (still bitter about that one) they showed they aren’t afraid to spend at the trade deadline; but many people still forget all the under the radar moves they managed to make at the deadline. CoCo Crisp and Brandon Guyer were acquired for very minimal prospects, and took up less than $1,000,000 dollars in combined cap room. Guyer’s hitting was great and everyone knew how much he got hit by pitches, but his OBP was unbelievable. He had a team high .438 OBP, but these numbers did come from a stunted season. Chernoff and company have done well, but need to keep it up in order to form a competitor this season.
- Signings: Each of the past two seasons, the Indians have signed a great defensive player, who many felt was past their prime, but they proved otherwise. Rajai Davis signed in 2016 on a 1 year $5,250,00 deal and proved he was worth all 5 million and then some. Rajai was a solid leadoff/nine hitter, but really left his mark in the playoffs when he sent a game tying homer into the stands off a fastball from Aroldis Chapman in Game 7 of the World Series. (The MLB wanted the Cubs to win so that’s the only reason there was a rain delay.) After Rajai walked, the Indians signed a 30 year old Austin Jackson to a NBA equivalent of a Veterans Minimum, 1 year 1.5 Million dollar contract. I have previously spoken how important it was to keep Austin Jackson… that didn’t happen but he was vital to the Tribe’s 22 game winning streak this season, batting over .300 all season long.
As key pieces to the Indians continue to walk, fans continue to doubt a World Series run. There’s still a long time left before the season starts to make a big time splash, but with how well Tito Francona has developed veteran players, I believe Melvin Upton Jr. is due for a huge year. Upton will be one of the key pieces in the outfield if Cleveland wants a run at the World Series.
As Always, GO TRIBE!
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(Featured Image): Cleveland.com