2018 saw breakouts for plenty of Cleveland Indians. But there was a fair share of guys who underperformed. Here are the players we’d like to see improve in 2019.
I’m an overly-optimistic guy. The Cleveland Indians could sell me on any player in existence and I’d say they’re our next star. That’s how fandom should be. But sometimes I have to face reality and accept that some players just have to get better. Not everyone on the roster can be a Corey Kluber, Francisco Lindor, or Jose Ramirez.
Still, there are guys on this team that have the potential to get better. Young guys who didn’t show much have a lot of room to grow, while some veterans who have shown signs of greatness have the potential to get back there and turn the rest of you into fans.
RP Tyler Olson
Oh, how things dropped off for Tyler Olson. When he was called up to the Tribe bullpen in 2017, I thought he was the next great thing for this Indians team. He felt like Chris Perez in the 2010 season. But like Perez, Olson dropped off. He dropped harder and faster last year taking his 0.00 ERA all the way up to 4.94. He was almost too unreliable to call out of the bullpen.
Olson showed incredible potential in 2017. I’d like to think that wasn’t just a one-off. The role of a dominant set-up lefty is available with Andrew Miller gone. I’d love to see a young guy like Olson fill that role and instill some hope in this Indians bullpen.
His velocity actually increased all around in 2018, but he used his sinker drastically less, despite a 2 MPH increase in velocity. He also saw a drastic increase in whiff against his pitches all around. The signs are there for improvement, now let’s see it in action.
C Roberto Perez
If there is anyone who needs to see improvement soon, it’s Roberto Perez. Once Yan Gomes was traded to Washington, Perez became the Indians top option at catcher. If you look at his numbers from last year, that is not a very comforting thought.
Perez was awful last season. He just didn’t see the ball well and it showed with his 70 strikeouts and 19 strikeouts in 62 games. The clock is ticking on the catcher as he has Eric Haase behind him who has shown some strong potential in Triple-A Columbus.
Perez has never should consistency during his time in Cleveland, but he has shown he can hit for power. Another big bat near the bottom of the order would give the Indians some serious help. The key for Perez will be a combination of power and consistency. He has the full-time catching for now, but he needs to improve soon.
2B/OF Jason Kipnis
Everyone loves to pick on Jason Kipnis. It felt like he was the scapegoat for all of the Indians’ problems last year, even when he was playing well. I think because April and May were so bad for Kipnis, it just left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth for the rest of the season. Then Kipnis found his power, but people would come at him for failing to get on base, or striking out in big situations.
The anger is warranted, but we also know that Kipnis is capable of being a remarkable player. We haven’t really seen that old slugging Jason Kipnis since he was injured in 2017. He hasn’t felt the same since coming back, but that’s something he can work on. He’s had a full offseason to recover and improve on his shortcomings.
What I want to see from Kipnis in 2019 is to bring that average back to above .250 and an OPS above .800. 2018 was also the first time he played a full season and his wRC+ was below 100. So bringing that number up and coming up in big moments would easily change a lot of people’s perspective on Kipnis.
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There are a few other players I’d like to see improve, but some of them involve guys that might not even make the team or could miss part of the season with injury (miss you, Bradley Zimmer.) But if the guys on this list step it up, they could help the Indians win a few extra games.