After playing in one of the most exciting World Series in history, the Indians start the 2017 season with a loaded pitching staff and Free Agent slugger, Edwin Encarnacion. That‘s not a bad hand to play.

Will the starters be able to make it to Miller time?

The Indians have a legitimate ace fronting their staff in Corey Kluber. Second and third starters Carlos Carrasco Danny Salazar missed significant time late in the season missed time with assorted injuries. They were missed in the World Series. Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer round out a strong starting five, and Matt Clevinger is around to provide depth.

This is the Indians strength, although young pitching is notoriously fragile.

Andrew Miller was the Indians most valuable player in the playoffs by far. He’ll probably be excellent again in 2017, but to expect a repeat of last year’s heroics is unrealistic. While Terry Francona may call on Miller at any high leverage point in a game, Cody Allen will fill a more traditional closer’s role. He’s good at it. Boone Logan provides help from the left side while Bryan Shaw and Dan Ortero fill out a solid bullpen. As long as Miller is anywhere near his usual self, the Tribe’s bullpen will be a strength.

Mediocrity is catching.

Yan Gomes has been in decline for the last two years. Part of the problem has been injuries.

He will probably rebound to some degree. Robert Perez, a typical defense first backup catcher provides depth.

This infield is offensive.

The Indians shortstop-second base combination of Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis form the heart of the Indians attack. Lindor was the toughest out in the Indians lineup in the World Series.

He’s only getting better. Kipnis provides a strong bat and good power from the second base position, but has been dealing with shoulder issues. That could be a problem going forward. First base will be manned by Edwin Encarnation or Carlos Santana. Both provide big power and limited leather. Whichever one doesn’t play first will see a lot of action at DH.

Third base will be handled by Jose Ramirez. Ramirez had a sneaky good season in 2016, hitting .312 with 11 homers and 46 doubles. I think I’d like to see that again before I fully buy in to that as the normal standard for him.

I thought you had it.

When we last saw the Indians outfield in the 2016 World Series, they were letting catchable Cubs fly balls drop for extra bases. The outfield doesn’t look to be strong this year either. Michael Brantley, who has been the Indians best player in years gone by likely won’t be ready by opening day. Brandon Guyer, who has proven to be a tough out against left handed pitching will see action at all three outfield slots and DH. Lonnie Chisenhall brings an average bat and below average glove to right field.

Tyler Naquin may be the Indians starting center fielder. If so, he brings a better bat than glove. Free agent signee Austin Jackson could see a lot of time in center field. World Series hero Rajai Davis will be missed.

The Cubs did it, why can't we?

The Indians won 94 games last season en route to winning the American League Central. I don’t think they’ll win 94 games in 2017, but they still are easily the favorites to win their division again this season. In the playoffs, it’s a role of the dice, but I don’t think their everyday lineup will be strong enough to get to the series. They added Encarnation, but lost Mike Napoli. That’s a net gain, but not that much.

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