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Five Keys for the Indians to Be a Force in the AL Central in 2016

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3. The Core must take a step forward

The Indians have done a great job of controlling the contracts of all of their young prospects. Over the last couple years Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes have matured from prospects to productive major league players. Brantley has already taken steps towards stardom, finishing third in MVP voting just two seasons ago.

They don’t have to turn into Thome, Ramirez, Vizquel, and Lofton, but the core of this team must grow as players. The offensive struggles of the Indians were well documented last season, and the tribe will look to it’s home grown talent to change that in 2016.

Front and center is first baseman/designated hitter Carlos Santana. Brought here in 2008 in the Casey Blake trade, big things were expected from Santana. Though his 108 walks were still among the league leaders, the Indians are still waiting for him to become the middle of the order bat they were hoping for. At almost 30, there is chance that he has already plateaued as a player, but the Indians are hoping that isn’t the case. They are going to need to find offense anywhere they can this year. This is a prime chance for Santana to take a step forward.

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A Pittsburgh Kid trying to find his way on the North Shore, Rob Rozycki has been watching, talking, and writing about sports for almost all of his life. Rob's parents and grandparents started his love of sports at an early age, telling stories about Johnny Unitas, Bill Russell, and Al Kaline instead of fairy tales. In the 12 years he spent in Cleveland after attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Rob has gained an appreciation of Cleveland sports, along with it's fans, who continue to be some of the most die hard in sports. After playing football, baseball, and basketball in his youth, Rob's passion for telling the stories behind the games took over in adulthood. He is currently the co-host of The Main Event on allsportscleveland.com and can also be heard the station's coverage of the 2016 OHSAA State Hockey Tournament and 2016 Baron Cup.

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