80-82 (2nd in Division; 16th in MLB)
SP Wins: 48 (12th)
RP Wins: 32 (20th)
Saves: 39 (18th)
65+ Runs: 2 (Ramírez 111, Rosario 77)
65+ RBI: 2 (Ramírez 103, Franmil Reyes 85)
BEST BUY: José Ramírez
I know it’s a bit boring to pick the 1st rounder of the team, but I also refuse to pretend that Ramirez isn’t the pick here. He is averaging 30 HR and 20 SB per 555 PA over the last five seasons with three of those seasons including 100+ runs and two of them with 100+ RBIs.
ON THE RISE: Emmanuel Clase
Clase was in the early season saves mix, getting nine through May, but then he and James Karinchak were in a bit of timeshare for the remainder of the first half. The sticky stuff ban seemed to sink Karinchak and allowed Clase to fully take over the closer’s role. In the second half, he had a 0.82 ERA, 0.61 WHIP, and 26 K-BB rate in 33 IP with 13 saves in 15 tries. With premium skills (27% K, 17% SwStr, 68% GB) and a clear shot at the role, Clase could be a top 5 closer this year.
OFF THE RADAR: Josh Naylor
Naylor was getting his first full season of playing time before colliding with Ernie Clement and suffering an awful leg injury that ended his season after just 69 games. He wasn’t great in that time with just a 90 wRC+, but he did have a 117 against righties. For his career, he has a 94 wRC+ against righties and just a 65 against lefties so he might be moving toward a stricter platoon role. He makes good contact and still has power to tap into which could yield a .270 AVG/20 HR season if Cleveland limits his exposure to lefties.
HOT TAKE: Amed Rosario has a 20 HR/30 SB season.
A key piece of the Lindor trade, Rosario was fine in his debut with Cleveland. He had a 99 wRC+ with 11 HR and 13 SB in 588 PA. That is more in line with his 2019 and makes his 2020 look more like a small sample blip (77 wRC+ in 147 PA). The speed is there for a 30 SB season. He was 6th in Sprint Speed and 14th in Home-to-1B in 2021. He went 13-for-13 on the bases and if the Guardians turn him loose, he can be a league leader in the category. The 20 HR piece doesn’t require a massive power jump as he has been at 15 and 11 in his last two full seasons. It would take a career year, but nothing that is far beyond his skills profile.
ICYMI: Bradley Zimmer had 15 SBs in 348 PA. Health has eluded Zimmer throughout his career and he still only played 99 games this year, but the OF situation in Cleveland is such that he could get a full-time role if his body can sustain it (or at least a strong side platoon role) and that means he could swipe 25 bases with a double-digit HR total. It might come with a sub-100 wRC+ if he can’t shave that 35% K rate, but 15 HR/25 SB has value in most formats even if he’s hitting .225 (his career average).