In what was a bit of a hum-drum season, the Cleveland Indians still had players who outplayed their expectations with the team in the 2018 season.
Not everything has to be melancholy when looking back at the Cleveland Indians 2018 season. There were still some bright spots that stood out for the team. We all know about the monster seasons had by Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, and Trevor Bauer; but there were players who went above and beyond the expectations set out in front of them.
The Indians fanbase lost their collective minds when the team extended Michael Brantley. Many thought the Indians would be better served to pursue an outfielder in free agency. Oh, how wrong we all were.
Dr. Smooth played a full season for the first time since 2015 and he looked just like his old self. His 17 homers were the most he’s had since 2014 and he piled on a nice 76 RBI on top of that. He held down the left field corner all season and provided the Indians with an oWAR of 19.4. We may not see Brantley in an Indians uniform next season, but we should appreciate all that he gave us this year.
No one expected the quick ascent of Shane Bieber to propel him into the Majors so quickly. But with the Indians rotation in a flux, Bieber stepped up and owned the spotlight
Bieber was one of the four Indians pitchers to finish with over 10 wins. While he struggled a bit in the second half, he shined early in games. His ability to keep walks down was reminiscent of Josh Tomlin in his prime.
Bieber racked up 118 strikeouts in just 20 games in 2018. He played so well that there’s a good chance he stays up in the big league rotation for the start of 2019 as well.
Oh man, how good was Oliver Perez in 2018? He was arguably the best relief pitcher the Indians had in their arsenal this season. It was easily the best year of his journeyman career as he finished with a 1.39 ERA and allowing just one homer on the year.
Perez came into the bullpen during a time that it was at it’s lowest. He emerged as one of the top components of the group, even outperforming the likes of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. He’s another player that we may not see in Cleveland next year, but he certainly made a difference in 2018.
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Every year it seems like a new face steps up to help a team. These three certainly changed things in the Indians favor more than once in 2018. Hopefully, we’ll get to see them out there doing the same in 2019.