The Cleveland Indians are a tough team to gauge in 2021.
Some pundits and fans may believe the loss of both Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana will be too much to overcome.
Others may believe Jose Ramirez and the young talent in the lineup will be enough to make it seem like nothing has changed.
That is before even getting into the same discussion with Shane Bieber and the entire pitching staff.
The consensus so far in national power rankings is to say the Indians will be average with plenty of potential to be great.
If the #Indians wanted a power bullpen this year they the arms this year to do it. All have thrown 97+ this spring.
— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) March 6, 2021
Average Rankings all Around
MLB.com has the Indians ranked No. 15 overall in their initial power rankings.
CBS Sports has them at No. 16, and NBC Sports is the most generous with the Indians at No. 13 overall.
What we see here is a lack of really knowing what will happen with the team in 2021.
No one source sees the Indians totally tanking and finishing near the bottom of the league.
But no one is saying they will be great either.
A .500 finish is likely the baseline right now until we see more from this team.
One way the Indians can be better is if the Chicago White Sox or Minnesota Twins fail to live up to high expectations.
The Twins should be fighting atop the American League all season.
But the White Sox are still a major question mark with Tony La Russa leading that young core of talent.
The Indians winning either of those season series would go a long way toward reaching the playoffs once again.
Relying on Potential in 2021
The Indians have a reputation for always restocking the starting rotation and bullpen with talent.
Pitchers like Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac, and Triston McKenzie are all projected to take big leaps forward this season.
Aaron Civale, Beautiful Curveball…and Insta K Strut. 🌈 pic.twitter.com/noG42sDxsr
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 4, 2021
The same is true with James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase in the backend of the bullpen.
All the young talent actually living up to their respective potential is the key focus of the entire 2021 season.
Clase being a bust or Civale showing severe regression are just a few of the many possible examples that would lead to a below-average team.
The same is true in the lineup where players like Josh Naylor, Franmil Reyes, Jake Bauers, and maybe Andres Gimenez are expected to play key roles.
Living up to the hype would be a dream come true for the front office and for fans.
There is still plenty to be happy about with this Indians squad.
Opening near the middle of national power rankings is much better than showing up near the bottom with no hope of success.
The rankings show there is some faith in this team.
How much faith is warranted remains to be seen.
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