2016 O/U Wins (Westgate):
2016 AL Central Odds (Westgate):
Projected Starting Rotation:
Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin
Ryan Webb, Chris Johnson, Mike Aviles
Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis
Handicapper's Take: "Armed with the best starting rotation in the AL Central, the Cleveland Indians are projected to be Kansas City's closest competition this season. In fact, a number of sportsbooks currently have the Tribe with a higher season over/under win total and shorter odds to win the division.
Shortstop Francisco Lindor, who is projected to be the cornerstone of the organization, produced All-Star level numbers (.313, 12 HRs, 51 RBI) in only 99 games last season. And Mike Napoli was brought in to add pop to a lineup that had trouble hitting the long ball. Beyond that, there aren't many bright spots for an offense that finished 11th in the AL in runs scored and 13th in home runs. Note that Abraham Almonte (suspended for 80 games) and Michael Brantley (offseason shoulder surgery, expected back by late April) won't be in the opening day lineup.
The organization recognized the how poor the team's defense was last season and made various changes and upgrades. Most preseason projections grade the Indians' defense as above AL-average. Couple that with a stellar rotation and capable bullpen and you can see why oddsmakers are calling for improvement.
Lastly, and most important, is the value factor. I mentioned in my analysis of the Royals that despite 95 wins and a World Series title, they were on average priced as -112 moneyline favorites. That resulted in over +27 units of profit. A key ingredient in that success was winning without a slew of upper-tier starting pitching. The Indians finished with 81 wins but were priced on averaged -120 and thus lost -13 units YTD. Part of the reason was that the starting rotation was loaded with young, premium, high K-rate arms -- the type that the markets loves to bet and tend to overvalue. The foursome of Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, and Carlos Carrasco lost a combined -19 units last season while the low strikeout rates of Josh Tomlin and rookie Cody Anderson combined for +12 units in 25 starts. Kluber was extremely unlucky and really suffered from lack of run support and poor defense but you can expect plenty of big price tags on him, Salazar, and Carrasco.
It's clear that the Indians are trying to win with pitching and defense which is a good thing. The problem is that there is projected improvement and premium starting pitching getting in the way of bettors really being able to cash in. It's conceivable to see this team improve by 6-10 wins and still finish in the red."
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