Offseason Grades: Cleveland Indians

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Credit: Jason Miller / Getty Images

Category: Outfielders

Grade: C-

The Indians’ outfield is bolstered down by one great player, Michael Brantley. After Brantley’s shoulder injury near the end of last season and his surgery in the offseason, he will probably miss the first month or so of the 2016 season. Once he is healthy, he will probably be the starting left fielder for the Indians. Last season, he hit .310 and had over 150 hits for the fourth consecutive season.

After that, the names become much less impressive. With the signing of Rajai Davis, that leaves the Indians with Michael Martinez, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jerry Sands and Abraham Almonte.

Davis has the most experience amongst any of the previous players mentioned and can play all three outfield positions. With that being said, he normally receives the majority of his starts in either left field or center field. Should Brantley start the season late, he’ll probably begin in left and move to center once Brantley becomes healthy. Davis is a plus in the organization from a free agent prospective because of his familiarity with the division after playing for the Detroit Tigers each of the past two years.

Almonte surprised a lot of people with his offensive production in just over 50 games with the Indians last season. Once the Tribe dumped Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher to free up some salary cap space, they wanted to find a cheap, temporary player to put in center field. They grabbed Almonte from the Padres and he ended up hitting .264 with 20 RBI’s and 19 extra-base hits for the Tribe. Because of that performance, he’ll begin 2016 in a Cleveland uniform. The plus-side to Almonte is that he is a 26-year-old player who will continue to improve while the Indians develop their minor league talent in the outfield–including Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier.

Finally, the Indians are sticking with a platoon in right field it seems. Lonnie Chisenhall looked very good in his first season moving from third base to right field–a move another divisional player recently underwent and that player, Alex Gordon, just signed a $72-million contract with the Kansas City Royals. For Chisenhall, the difference between third base and right field in 2015 was palpable. He had 172 at-bats as a third baseman and hit .209, whereas in his 142 at-bats as a right fielder, Chisenhall hit nearly 100 points higher, at .3

 

Sands also plays in right field along with first base. The former Los Angeles Dodger has found a nook as a batter against left-handed pitching, where he batted nearly .300 in 64 at-bats last season. He is little more than a utility player when the rest of the outfield is healthy, but expect him to get a lot of starts against left-handers in 2016.

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