Baseball Instinct | 3 Up, 3 Down – Cleveland Indians

3 Up, 3 Down – Cleveland Indians

Welcome back to Baseball Instinct’s series: Chin Music 2011.  We’re taking a quick snap shot at key players in each organization’s major league club as well as their minor league system.  We don’t always “point out the obvious” elite players.  We are taking a look at player’s in situations that could help your fantasy team or be a good addition to your fantasy farm.  Let’s start out with the team with the best record in baseball, lead by the hot start of SP Justin Masterson.

Cleveland IndiansTeam: Cleveland Indians

Record: 19-8 (1st in the AL Central)

Payroll: $ 49,190,566 (26th in Baseball)


The Cleveland Indians are 11 games over .500 and lead the Kansas City Royals by 4.5 games in the American League Central.  They currently have the best record in baseball, no doubt surprising everyone.  4 years ago the Indians came out of no where to claim the AL Central title and were oh so close to knocking off the Red Sox to go to the World Series.  Can this team do the same?  Possibly, to be sure the White Sox, Twins, and Tigers have done little to impress in the early going.

Major Leaguer:  Justin Masterson SP

Justin Masterson, RHP Indians

Masterson has been “Masterful” to say the least.  He’s 5-0 with 2.25 era, 29 k’s, and 13 walks in 40 innings pitch on the season.  In his last outing Sunday, he was denied a win for the 1st time this season.  Despite this fact, Masterson 7 innings of 2 run ball, striking out 7 and walking 2.  The Indians eventually won that game.  He’s 1 win away from matching career highs set in 2008 and 2010 with 6.  In fact, he went 6-13 with a 4.70 era while serving up 14 hr’s in 2010 for these same Indians.  The difference this season is that hes throwing some serious filth with both the sinker and the slider, not to mention that his fast ball has a ton of movement on it.  If you don’t own him, try to trade for him pointing out his previous career numbers, but understanding he just may becoming the ace a lot of people in Boston thought he could be before the dealt him for Victor Martinez.

Minor Leaguer: Lonnie Chisenhall 3B

The 22 year old Chisenhall is hitting .275 with 2 hr’s, 15 rbi, and 20 runs scored in 91 at bats for AAA Columbus.   As I did last year, I will turn the rest of this report over to Baseball Instinct’s Tom Belmont, truly a minor league aficianado.

Tom:  Drafted as a SS Chisenhall wasn’t expected to stick but the move to 3B has been pretty seamless.  He’s taken to the hot corner well and has been able to slowly refine his offensive game to that of a corner man. He’s been young for each level and is just 22 in AAA while knocking on the door in Cleveland.
His IsoP has been consistent around .150 and he should provide average pop with 20 HR per year with an excellent idea for the strike zone and good bat control. His K rates sit around 15% for his career with BB rates near 10% which is excellent. In time his elite EYE will allow him to maximize his batting average and power and he should see time in Cleveland even with the big club making noise in the AL Central.

Major Leaguer: Grady Sizemore OF

Can Sizemore regain his elite status that he had from 2005-2008?  It’s hard to say when a player has battle after battle with injuries, but if Sizemore’s 1st 12 games back, where he’s hitting .340 with 4 hr’s, 9 rbi, and 10 runs, is any indication, then he’s making a pretty good case for himself.  8 of his 17 hits have been doubles, and while he’s only attempted 1 stolen base, it appears that his speed isn’t totally gone.  The microfracture surgery that he had on his left knee in June seems to have been a success.   He comes with the risk of injury, be he is certainly a high reward type of player.

Minor Leaguer:  Alex White SP

The 22 year old White was 1-0 with a 1.90 era, 28 k’s, and 5 walks in 23.2 innings pitched over 4 games with AAA Columbus.  White made his Major league debut Saturday night, giving up 2 runs on 2 solo hr’s in a no decision against the Detroit Tigers.  He struck out 4 and walked for in this quality start effort that the Indians eventually won in 13 innings.  Prior to the game Tom Belmont had this to say about White:

Tom:  White is being called up to take a turn in the rotation and replace Carlos Carrasco. White is ready to take over at the back end of the rotation but this may only be a one and done for the time being. White is only 23 and has so far handled AAA better than he did AA which wasn’t bad either.

He’s an extreme GB pitcher with GB rates of over 50% at each stop. His splitter is his knock out pitch and the re-addition of his slider gives him a put away that had been lacking since being drafted. The development of the 3rd pitch now gives me hope that I lacked in White remaining a starter. Not only can he stick as a starter but I believe has the repertoire to be successful in the middle of a quality rotation and eat innings based on his GB rates.
Major Leaguer:  Orlando Cabrera SS
There were several players that I could of picked to finish up this report.  DH Travis Hafner, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, OF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jack Hanahan, 1B Matt LaPorta, OF Michael Brantley, SP Josh Tomlin, RP Vinnie Pestano, RP Rafael Perez, and closer Chris Perez – All – could of made this list.
I decided to take a minute and talk about 2B Orlando Cabrera who for fantasy purposes, qualifies at SS too.  A lot of people wrote the 36 year old Cabrera off and assumed he would not make the transition to 2B for the lowly Indians.  Well, the Indians aren’t so lowly and O-Cab has made the transition very well.  He’s hitting .294 with 2 hr’s, 17 rbi, 16 runs, 1 sb.  He’s on a pace to hit .294-12-102-96-6.  That’s probably far fetched, but he’s hitting the ball extremely well nad you can find in the fodder pile in most leagues.  Considering how bad a position ss currently is, you may want to give him a look – especially in those deeper leagues.
Minor Leaguer: Drew Pomeranz SP
The former Mississippi standout has not picked up a win in 5 starts on the season.  That was a really deceptive lead-in as Pomeranz has been brilliant so far.  He’s sporting a 1.54 era to go with 34 k’s and only 7 walks in 23.1 innings pitched.  Let’s turn things back over to Tom one last time in this report for his take on Pomeranz.

Tom:  The Indians #1 pick in 2010 is off to a fast start for the Kinston Indians  who play A ball in the Carolina League.  While Pomeranz is a College draftee he does still have plenty of work to do in the minors before he’ll be ready to face major league lineups. His plus fastball and plus 12-6 curveball are both top pitches but his command is erratic at times and his changeup needs major refinement.

He’s already 22, so he’s a step behind the development of White at this point.  However, Pomeranz upside is higher than Alex White and if the Indians are patient with him he could develop into a #2 starter with high K rates. He has the two needed pitches to put away major league hitters already so the CU will give him the 3rd to keep right handed hitters off balance and allow him to work deep into games.
Worst case scenario for Pomeranz and the Indians would be a solid lefty specialist. That would be a major failure because there is a major league starter in this skill set waiting to be refined.
Check back soon for the 2011 MLB Draft Preview. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at

Closing in on 25 years of following the greatest game in the world very closely. I can remember as a kid how excited I was when a player that I had watched in the minors make his major league debut. The same holds true today. We designed Baseball Instinct with that in mind; getting you the fan excited to get out and see the see the stars of tomorrow - today!


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