As February nears to an end, we are officially less than 50 days away until the Cleveland Indians step between the lines for their season/home opener. Pitchers and catchers have already reported in Goodyear, as well as most of the team who came early. Full squad workouts are days away from starting, and before you know it the Red Sox will be in town and the first pitch will be thrown out on April 4th.
While the Indians posted their third winning season in a row all under the Terry Francona era, the excitement and speculation on how this season will shake out is all there once more. Last season shortstop Francisco Lindor was a finalist for rookie of the year, outfielder Michael Brantley and second baseman Jason Kipnis both had a batting average over .300, and the pitching staff posted the most strikeouts (1407), lowest opponents batting average (.237), and second lowest ERA (3.67) in the AL.
While all those accolades among other things are all great, the Indians still haven’t managed to reach the postseason with Francona with the exception of the Wild Card berth in 2013. One of the biggest problems for the Tribe has been offense, and their window of opportunity is starting to diminish. With Michael Brantley not expected to be back at the start of the season while his shoulder recovers from surgery, they’ll be losing one of, if not the most, important bats in the lineup. While Brantley is seemingly pushing to make a comeback as quickly as possibly, can the Tribe manage to stay afloat while the 2014 All-Star is sidelined? Let’s take a look at their projected outfield for the start of the season.