The Cleveland Indians are projected to finish second in the American League Central, according to Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections.
The Minnesota Twins are projected to win the division and the Chicago White Sox are still picked to finish third.
This is certainly uplifting for Indians fans worried about the talent on the roster.
Who will anchor the bullpen?
Will the No. 2-5 guys in the rotation step up like expected?
Who will start at first base?
And what about in center and right field?
The list of questions goes on and on and will continue to until the season gets underway.
Even then, moves may be made that only create new pressing concerns.
Players stepping up in a big way will be how the Indians go from a .500 team to actually competing for a playoff spot.
Finding several X-factors in 2021 shows a true path to contention.
Two in particular stand out.
2. A Weak AL Central
.@fangraphs has announced their projected postseason odds. 👀
Let us know what you think ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/1itTsNyf3B
— MLB (@MLB) February 16, 2021
The Twins enter the season as the favorites to win the division.
While the White Sox do have national hype, the PECOTA projections are noteworthy.
One way the Indians could even compete for the division is if the Twins and White Sox perform worse than expected.
Even just the White Sox having a down year could mean the Indians beat up on them, the Detroit Tigers, and Kansas City Royals all year if things go according to plan.
The Royals may even end up being better than the White Sox in a major surprise.
A path toward winning the AL Central could emerge if the pennant can be won with 90-92 wins.
That being the case improves the team’s overall playoff chances, as opposed to a season where the Twins are up near 100 wins and the Indians stand no chance.
1. A Dominant Bullpen
Looking forward to seeing this man along with the recently acquired Emmanuel Clase in the back end of the #Indians bullpen for many years to come.
— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) December 20, 2019
Remember in 2013 when a dominant bullpen emerged and the Indians broke a playoff drought?
The same happening this year would go a long way toward bolstering an inexperienced starting rotation outside of Bieber.
The amount of questions in the bullpen is what makes their performance a real X-factor.
2021 is a year filled with plenty of promise in the midst of lowered expectations.
This feeling rivals what happened during that surprising 2013 season.
Maybe the magic will be back again in 2021.