When looking at who the Royals have to face in their division you can understand why fans are so excited for this 2012 season. With teams that have around the same amount of competition, a break here and a break there could push the Royals into the playoffs. With the new addition of Prince Fielder, the Detroit Tigers have been set above the competition. The Royals, Twins, and Indians will look to sneak up and snatch the divisional championship. We will start by looking at the Cleveland Indians.
1. Grady Sizemore OF
2. Jason Kipnis 2B
3. Asdrubal Cabrera SS
4. Carlos Santana C
5. Travis Hafner DH
6. Shin-Soo Choo OF
7. Casey Kotchman 1B
8. Jack Hannahan 3B
9. Michael Brantley OF
When looking at the line up you must keep in mind injuries. This team has been plagued with injury every year (usually with more then one player). If the Cleveland Indians can stay healthy, they will be dangerous. The addition of Casey Kotchman was a huge addition because of his consistent play. Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santa will look to carry most of the load as they did last year. While there isn’t an All-Star in the line up, each hitter fits well in the role they have. This team can hit for average and power. When healthy, Travis Hafner is one of the best power hitters in the league. Also, look for the young Carlos Santana to assert himself as one of the better catchers in the league. Many scouts have him becoming one of the best hitting catchers in the majors.
Ubaldo Jimenez – 10 wins 13 loses ERA 4.68
Justin Masterson – 12 wins 10 loses ERA 3.21
Derek Lowe – 9 wins 17 loses ERA 5.05
Josh Tomlin – 12 wins 7 loses ERA 4.25
Kevin Slowey – 0 wins 8 loses ERA 6.67
While Ubaldo Jimenez struggled last year, I predict him having 14 wins and have a bounce back year. While he will not put up monstrous numbers like he did in 2010 (finished 3rd in Cy Young Award). I expect the other starting pitchers numbers to be around the same. Justin Masterson has major room to improve because of the “stuff” that numerous scouts rave about. Josh Tomlin put together a very nice year and I expect around the same numbers. Derek Lowe Brings leadership to the staff. Last off-season he was caught racing his car while drunk. Although the charges were later dropped, the quality of his leadership is in question. Kevin Slowey will most likely be replaced due to his horrendous numbers. There is no place in major league baseball for a pitcher with those numbers.
Grady Sizemore– It’s clear, if Sizemore can stay healthy he is an All-Star center fielder. For some staying healthy is easy but by viewing his history of injury, it is his biggest flaw. He has the speed to steal 30 bases as he has done twice already in his career. What separates Sizemore from most center fielders is his power, in 2008 he hit 33 home runs and 39 doubles. The Indians took a chance on signing Sizemore back for a one year deal. Sizemore is already expected to miss opening day due to a strained lower back. Expect this injury like that to stay with him throughout they year.
Ubaldo Jimenez – The former ace was traded from the Colorado Rockies to the Indians. The Indians expected to get the same pitcher that could carry a starting rotation to new heights. With dominate pitches Ubaldo can make the adjustment and dominate like he did in the National League. If he can turn the corner and dominate again, he can dominate the “down” division. When the Indians traded for Jimenez, they thought that he would dominate just as C.C. Sabathia did when he won the AL CY Young Award in 2007.
Carlos Santana – The 25 year old looks to build on a powerful 2011 season. Last year he hit 35 home runs but had a .239 batting average. I expect his average to jump above .250 because of experience and help around him in the lineup. Although he managed to belt out 35 home runs, he only had 79 runs batted in. I also expect that number to jump into the lower 90’s for the same two reasons. Along with playing catcher, Santana has the ability to play first base if needed.
Justin Masterson has yet to display his full potential. With his huge frame of 6’6” 250lbs. Masterson should be able to blow hitters away with his stuff. A former prospect for the Boston Red Sox was once highly regarded for his dominance in the minor leagues. Do not be surprised if Masterson can quitly collect over 15 wins.
When this team is healthy the can compete and win this division. But, health is the main downfall to the Indians. Expect the Indians to make a major run at first place at some point in the year. Their momentum will slow up due to a major injury and they will slide under .500.
Final prediction: 74-88