(Sports Media 101)
2016 Record: 94-67, 1st in AL Central
Key Additions: LHP Boone Logan, DH Edwin Encarnacion, OF Michael Brantley*
Key Subtractions: OF Rajai Davis, 1B Mike Napoli, UTIL Michael Martinez
X-Factor: Rotational Health
The Cleveland Indians shocked the baseball world by not only sweeping the Red Sox in the ALDS last year, but also by knocking off the Jays and advancing to the World Series against the Powerhouse Chicago Cubs. Although the result wasn't what Tribe fans wanted, they still have a lot to be excited for as we inch closer to the 2017 Season Opener.
Perhaps in the biggest FA signing this winter, the Indians added former Blue Jays 1B/DH, Edwin Encarnacion to a mega deal. In doing so, they lost Mike Napoli. Now Nap provided a lot of thump in that lineup last year, but he's so hit or miss - literally - it hurts. So by replacing the possible production of Napoli with the guaranteed production of EE, the already impressive Indians lineup looks even better.
On top of that, Cleveland is getting 2 of their top 3 starters back (Salazar and Carrasco), as well as a full year of Andrew Miller anchoring that bullpen as their super reliever that can go multiple innings at any point during the game. The big thing with the Indians losing in that World Series last year was having to rely on injured Trevor Bauer, and inconsistent Josh Tomlin in 2 of the final 3 elimination games for the Cubs, before ultimately losing the series in extra innings in Game 7. You add Salazar and Carrasco to that World Series rotation, the outcome may be completely different.
Record Prediction: 99-63
This is the best team in the AL, in my opinion, from top to bottom. They have the best manager in the AL, one of the best pitching staffs and lineups in all of baseball. I wouldn't be surprised if the Indians threaten the 105-win mark, but 99 seems pretty realistic. I see it being a nice race for best record in the AL between the Red Sox and Indians and, health permitting, I see the Indians just sneaking out with 2 more wins.