CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians went through their first full squad workout of Spring Training at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona Monday, and before everyone knows it, the games that count will be upon us.
There are several new faces and open positions to fill through the next six weeks of exhibition play, as the Indians underwent a significant roster overall through offseason trades and free-agent losses, which means there will be no shortage of competition during the spring.
Here is a projection for what the Indians’ Opening Day lineup will look like when the 2019 regular season gets underway against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis on Thursday, March 28.
No. 1-Center fielder Leonys Martin
The 30-year old Martin suffered a life-threatening bacterial infection shortly after his arrival in Cleveland last summer, but after weeks of treatment and months of rehabilitation, he is back healthy and ready to get back to playing baseball again.
In just six games with the Indians last season, Martin collected five hits in 15 at-bats (.333 batting average) with two home runs, four runs batted in, three runs scored and one walk against two strikeouts. He had .353 on-base, .733 slugging and 1.086 on-base-plus-slugging percentages.
No. 2-Shortstop Francisco Lindor
While preparing in Orlando for Spring Training, Lindor suffered a right calf strain, and Indians medical staff said he would be able to return to game activity in seven to nine weeks.
Although not wanting to put pressure on Lindor to come back too soon, manager Terry Francona is “betting on the under” when it comes to the return of his All-Star shortstop.
Last season, Lindor led the Indians with 183 hits and 42 doubles, was tied for third in triples, third in runs batted in and second with 38 home runs. Lindor set a club record for lead-off home runs, as he started nine games with round-trippers in 2018.
Through 574 games over his first four years with the Indians, Lindor collected 665 hits, including 138 doubles, 13 triples and 98 home runs, with 310 runs batted in, 377 runs scored and 214 walks drawn against 357 strikeouts. Additionally, Lindor stole 71 bases in 91 attempts.
A three-time American League All-Star infielder, Lindor has a .288 career batting average with .350 on-base, .487 slugging and .837 on-base-plus-slugging percentages.
No. 3-Third baseman Jose Ramirez
Despite a late-season slump in 2018, Ramirez belted a team-best 39 home runs to go along with top-three finishes with 105 RBI, 156 hits and 110 runs scored. Ramirez batted .270 with .387 on-base, .552 slugging and .939 on-base-plus-slugging percentages.
Of Ramirez’s 156 hits, 81 went for extra bases, as he had 38 doubles, four triples and 39 home runs. In addition to leading the Indians in home runs, triples and stolen bases (34), he ranked second on the team in doubles, runs batted in and runs scored.
For the second consecutive season, Ramirez was the starting third baseman for the American League All-Star team and finished third in the voting for the AL Most Valuable Player Award.
No. 4-Designated hitter Carlos Santana
Santana left the Indians in free agency following the 2017 season, but was traded twice in a week and was reacquired by Cleveland in a deal with the Seattle Mariners for DH Edwin Encarnacion early in the offseason.
In his eight years with the Indians, Santana had a .249 batting average with 995 hits in 3,994 at-bats over 1,116 regular-season games. He belted 236 doubles, 13 triples and 174 home runs, drove in 587 runs, scored another 573 and drew 726 walks against 812 strikeouts.
No. 5-First baseman Jake Bauers
According to Francona, Bauers has the potential to be an “above average” infielder, but also, could be a platoon player for a team short on experienced Major League talent in the outfield.
Although Bauers had a .201 batting average in 96 games with Tampa Bay last season, he scored 48 runs, drove in 48 and finished with 35 extra-base hits, including 22 doubles, 11 home runs and two triples. Plus, Bauers drew 54 walks to raise his on-base percentage to .316.
No. 6-Second baseman Jason Kipnis
Kipnis had a red-hot spring last season, but struggled out the gate offensively and posted a career-worst .230 batting average over 147 games for the Indians in 2018.
In 530 at-bats, Kipnis had 122 hits, including 28 doubles, 18 home runs and one triple, with 75 runs batted in and 65 runs scored. Although Kipnis struck out 112 times, he drew 60 walks and had a .315 on-base percentage.
In 1,000 regular-season games with the Indians, Kipnis has registered 1,008 hits, including 229 doubles, 22 triples and 106 home runs, with 464 RBI and 542 runs scored with a .263 batting average, 409 walks and 128 stolen bases.
No. 7-Right fielder Jordan Luplow
A third-round selection of the Pirates in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, Luplow, 25, has 33 hits, including 14 for extra bases (four doubles, four triples, six home runs) in 170 at-bats over 64 games with Pittsburgh over the last two years.
During five seasons in Pittsburgh’s farm system, Luplow registered a .277 batting average (469 of 1,692) with 118 doubles, 11 triples, 59 home runs, 39 stolen bases and 256 runs batted in with an .891 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
Baseball America listed Luplow as having the “best outfield arm” in Pittsburgh’s farm system prior to the 2018 regular season.
No. 8-Left fielder Greg Allen
In 91 games during the 2018 season, Allen registered 68 hits in 265 at-bats (.257 batting average) with 11 doubles, three triples and two home runs to go along with 36 runs scored, 20 runs batted in and 14 walks drawn.
Additionally, Allen stole 21 bases in 25 attempts, good for an 84 percent success rate.
Defensively, Allen had 184 putouts, two assists, combined on one double play and committed just one error over 659.2 innings of work, good enough for a .995 fielding percentage.
No. 9-Catcher Roberto Perez
The Indians showed plenty of faith in Perez when they dealt All-Star catcher Yan Gomes to Washington in November.
After being the backstop for the Indians’ run to the 2016 World Series, Perez played in 71 games behind the plate in 2017, collecting 664 putouts and assisting on 33 plays with only two errors. He threw out 13 of the 30 players who attempted to steal a base and posted a .997 fielding percentage.
Known far more for his defense, Perez had 44 hits, including 12 doubles and eight home runs, with 38 RBI and 22 runs scored over 215 at-bats to go along with 26 walks against 71 strikeouts.
Last year, Perez caught 62 games, and in 179 at-bats, had nine doubles, two home runs and one triple.