The 2021 Cleveland Indians are now well into their exhibition schedule of spring training games.
This spring season has not started out well for Tribe outfielder Jordan Luplow.
The 27-year old rolled his ankle during batting practice in late February.
Tests on the ankle showed that it was a normal sprain.
Hopefully, that means Luplow will be able to make his spring debut soon.
Assuming he can get healthy, should Luplow be an everyday player for the Indians in 2021?
The Case for Luplow to Win a Starting Job
JORDAN LUPLOW WALKS THE @INDIANS OFF AGAIN!!!!!!#OURTRIBE pic.twitter.com/0yWAGUEFkW
— FOX Sports Cleveland (@FOXSportsCLE) September 24, 2020
All Tribe fans know that the outfield spots have not contributed at a high level for several seasons in a row.
Chris Antonetti addressed this issue by signing former Minnesota Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario during the offseason.
Although Rosario will provide some much needed power, that acquisition solves only one of three outfield spots.
Could Luplow provide the offensive punch that the Tribe so desperately needs?
Luplow has definitely proven to have plenty of pop in his bat.
In fact, the former third-round draft pick blasted 15 bombs for the Indians back in 2019.
Also, Luplow displayed plenty of power during his Minor League career.
In 2017 he smacked 23 homers while splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A.
Luplow has had 473 big league at-bats and has hit 23 homers during his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Indians.
473 at-bats equates to basically a full season for an everyday MLB player.
The Indians would definitely be pleased with that type of full season productivity.
Another thing in Luplow’s favor is his ability to destroy left-handed pitching.
Over the last two seasons, Luplow has posted a batting average of .309 against lefties.
Luplow would also bring solid defense to the Tribe’s outfield with his .985 career fielding percentage.
What Obstacles Stand in the Way for Luplow?
#Indians OF Jordan Luplow has been slowed by foot injury. Francona said he received an injection and team will give him a few days off.
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) March 4, 2021
So, what is holding Luplow back from winning an everyday starting job in the Indians outfield?
There are several obstacles in Luplow’s way but the main concern is his health.
The right-handed hitter has had more than his share of injury misfortune.
Last season, Luplow was bothered by a sore lower back that severely limited his production.
Though the back now appears to be healthy, Luplow’s sprained ankle is another setback.
According to multiple reports, the ankle injury seems to be a mild sprain.
However, ankle sprains tend to linger in baseball players due to the grueling everyday schedule.
Another reason Luplow may not win the starting job is that the Indians outfield is overcrowded.
All Indians fans know that Rosario will be penciled in everyday in the left field spot.
The center field job is between Oscar Mercado and Bradley Zimmer.
That only leaves the right field slot for Luplow to possibly win.
However, right field is crowded as well with Josh Naylor and Daniel Johnson battling for playing time.
The best way for Luplow to win the starting right field role is for the Indians to put Naylor at first base.
The first order of business is for Luplow to getting his ankle healed up quickly.
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