The Cleveland Indians are a team carrying plenty of unknowns into the 2021 MLB season.
So coming up with a final record prediction is no easy task.
Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections came out earlier this month and provided Indians fans with quite the surprise.
For those unaware, this is an annual projection based on the current roster over a full season.
Even with all the subtractions, the Indians are still projected to finish 85-77 and land the second spot in the American League Central behind the Minnesota Twins and ahead of the Chicago White Sox.
— FOX Sports Cleveland (@FOXSportsCLE) September 23, 2020
The Favorable Projection
Should this 85-77 projection be a surprise?
The White Sox finishing where they do is arguably the bigger story from these projections.
Ramirez is the one player really carrying this lineup and adding a few wins to the final record.
He has finished at least third in AL MVP voting three times since 2017 and was the unsung hero nationally behind Lindor.
But it was Ramirez who was better overall in 2020 and fans already know the Indians got the ultimate bargain with his contract.
We don’t even need to break down how valuable Shane Bieber is to this team in 2021 either.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) August 5, 2020
However, it is not just him that will get the team to 85 wins.
PECOTA also sees the rest of the rotation holding their own and keeping the team in the playoff race all season.
Stacking Up Against the Central
PECOTA has the Twins finishing first at 90-72.
Next up are the Indians at 85-77, followed by the White Sox at 83-79.
So it is at least a close race at the top.
The rebuilding Royals are at 72-90 and the Detroit Tigers are projected to finish in the basement at 66-96.
It was always expected to be a three-team race in 2021 and this projection should provide plenty of optimism to fans.
What it shows is that the current roster has the talent, on paper, to compete without much of a disruption after losing Lindor and Santana.
One wild card may be the health of Terry Francona and how he manages this young roster.
But he gets the benefit of the doubt until he proves he no longer deserves such confidence.
The Indians have never had a losing season under Francona.
His worst year was an 81-80 finish in 2015.
So perhaps his presence plays a factor in why the Indians are not seen to be destined for a losing season in 2021.
Whatever the reasons may be, projecting an 85-win season gives fans some great vibes as the weather hopefully starts to turn soon.
What do you think of this projected win total?