Cleveland won the AL Central in 2007 after posting 96 wins, but it has been all down hill for the struggling ballclub since that title. The Indians have tallied 134 wins over the last two years, and they barely avoided the cellar in 2010 after finishing 69-93. Seamheads and oddsmakers are looking for some improvement out of the club this season, but not a lot as the latest 2011 MLB Predictions have the Indians regular season win total set at 72.5 with the Under favored at -130 odds.
Last season the Indians toothless offense and a poor pitching staff doomed them to a fourth place finish in the AL Central. Only two players made a consistently positive impact for the Tribe in either area, those being outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and staff ace Fausto Carmona.
Shoo dominated just about every offensive category for Cleveland, leading the team in batting average, hits, home runs, RBI, and stolen bases while Carmona earned a 3.77 ERA in 33 starts (13-14 record).
The club added a number of experienced veterans in the off-season, such as Adam Everett, Austin Kearns, and Orlando Cabrera, and it even found a third base starter in non-roster invitee Jack Hannahan. However, none of those players figures to make a big splash, not the kind that leads to a 10 or 15 game improvement anyway.
For the offense, which scored just 646 runs last year, to take a step forward, Grady Sizemore must rediscover the form that made him an All-Star in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Sizemore has played in just 139 games over the past two seasons, recording 18 homers, 77 RBI, and a .229 batting average. He will start this season on the Disabled List as he is still working his way back from micro-fracture knee surgery.
The Indians rotation will showcase the same hodge-podge of mediocre talent that it did in 2010. Cleveland's pitching staff, which ranked 25th in ERA last season at 4.53, has some capable arms, but Carmona is the only hurler with ace type stuff. The rest of the rotation will be comprised of Carlos Carrasco, Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin, and Mitch Talbot. Those four combined for a 4.80 ERA in 81 starts last year.
Cleveland Indians MLB Predictions 2011 World Series Odds:
To Win 2011 World Series +10000
To Win 2011 AL Pennant +6500
To Win AL Central +2000 (Four of Five)
Regular Season Wins – Over 72.5 (+100)/Under 72.5 (-130)