Burning River Baseball is back with our notoriously incorrect predictions for the 2014 season. Joining regular writers Joe, Mike and Jen this season is Cody Slaybaugh, host of The Sports Report on ESPN AM 970 WFUN, weekdays from 4-6pm. We will be posting our picks for the upcoming Cleveland Indians statistical leaders, award winners and final divisional standings. To start, here are the picks for the Indians triple crown stat leaders.
|Triple Crown Winners|
|HR||Swisher – 22||Santana||Santana||Kipnis||Swisher|
|RBI||Kipnis – 84||Santana||Santana||Brantley||Kipnis|
|AVG||Kipnis – .284||Brantley||Brantley||Kipnis||Gomes|
|W||Masterson – 14||Masterson||Salazar||Salazar||Masterson|
|K||Masterson – 195||Salazar||Masterson||Salazar||Salazar|
|ERA||Jimenez – 3.30||Kluber||Allen||Masterson||Masterson|
Judging by the picks, expectations are high on Carlos Santana and Danny Salazar. Neither factored among the leaders last season, but both have positive changes going into 2014. Santana no longer has to catch every day and can focus on hitting while Salazar will be playing his first full Major League season. Last year’s leaders, specifically Jason Kipnis and Nick Swisher, will likely stay among the leaders in home runs and RBI while it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Michael Brantley finally made the most of his abilities and lead the team in average.
The Burning River Baseball Awards are given out every off-season to the Tribe’s top performers. They are named after some of the greats in team history, but essentially boil down to Most Improved Player, Rookie of the Year, Best Overall Reliever, Top Defender, Best Overall Hitter, Best Overall Pitcher and MVP.
Most of the names above should be familiar and make sense for the awards they are predicted to win, but for those unfamiliar with the Indians minor league system we’ll go over the Rookie of the Year candidates. Most Tribe fans are familiar with Francisco Lindor, who was the team’s first round pick in 2011 and is currently the Indians top prospect. Cody Anderson is a starting pitcher who has been blowing through the competition and is slated to begin the season in AA Akron. He was also drafted in 2011 (14th round) and won the Bob Feller award (a real award, unlike those listed above) in 2013 for top pitcher in the organization. Finally, Jesus Aguilar is a monster of a man, who is the only player in the Indians system that currently seems capable of hitting more than 30 home runs in a season. He will begin the year in AAA Columbus and is the most advanced player of those listed.
|Central Division Standings|
|Twins||White Sox||White Sox||Twins||White Sox|
|White Sox||Twins||Twins||White Sox||Twins|
Of course, the only thing that really matters in the baseball season is who ends up on top. Last season, it was the Tigers finishing one game better than the Indians, after which both teams made it to the play-offs and were quickly eliminated. The Tigers lost major players in the line-up (Prince Fielder and Jose Iglasius) and in the rotation (Doug Fister) and look weakened after a long time on top. Both the Royals and Indians on the other hand have made internal improvements and are set to make a move on the division. All three BRB writers have these three teams finishing in the top three and both Joe and Mike think a Wild Card will come out of the Central. The Twins and White Sox are expected to sit in the cellar one way or the other.
Those are the picks for the seasons and we’ll stick to them. Once the season has ended, check back as we will post the actual leaders and insult those who were wrong for their misguidedness. For further explanation into the choices, make sure to listen to the next episode of Burning River Radio, coming soon.
Danny Salazar has monumental expectations going into 2014,
at least according to the BRB crew.