Cleveland Indians: 6 Players Who Will Have Breakout Seasons in 2013
The 2013 Cleveland Indians have completely reshaped their roster this offseason.
The Indians have an exciting young core of pitchers and position players and will need many of them to step up and establish themselves as cornerstones for the future.
Some of the Tribe's young talent have shown flashes, but need to put together a consistent full season in the majors.
Here are six Indians who have the ability to fully develop this season under new Indians manager Terry Francona.
SP Justin Masterson
Justin Masterson, the Opening Day starter, needs to establish himself as the ace of the Indians' starting rotation.
He has all the ability to do so. Two years ago, Masterson was consistent the entire year with a 3.12 ERA. The only reason he didn't have a better record (12-10) was because he was hardly given any run support.
Last season, Masterson couldn't throw strikes consistently—mostly because he was trying to overthrow and had trouble being consistent in his delivery.
He can be very effective if he is able to locate his fastball and get his heavy sinker down in the strike zone to let the very reliable infield defense do its job.
Manager Terry Francona is very familiar with Masterson from their time together in Boston, and if Masterson is going to prove he is indeed a front-of-the-rotation starter, this has to be the year to do it.
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
Two-time All-Star SS Asdrubal Cabrera is all any team can ask for in the first half of the season.
However, a player of Cabrera's caliber needs to carry his first-half production into the second half this year.
There are two main reasons for Cabrera's second-half declines the past two seasons.
First, the Indians have never had a reliable backup to replace Cabrera, both offensively and defensively. This caused Cabrera to wear down physically and mentally because he had to be in the lineup for the Indians to have any chance of winning.
This season, the addition of super-sub Mike Aviles will allow the Indians to rest Cabrera at least one time a week.
Secondly, he hasn't stayed in top shape the whole year. He seemed to gradually gain noticeable weight after each All-Star break.
Cabrera is still in the prime of his career, though, and he reportedly came to spring training in excellent shape.
The addition of veteran leaders like Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn should help Cabrera grow as a leader by example.
3B Lonnie Chisenhall
Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall has unbelievable potential with his sweet swing and power.
He has yet to play a full season with the Indians, but he is still really young at 24. He made tremendous strides defensively last season, and working with former teammate Jack Hannahan might have had something to do with it.
Chisenhall has a very strong arm to make all the tough throws defensively, and his glove work is smooth for the most part.
His one glaring weakness last season at the plate was his plate discipline. He swung at way too many pitches off the plate.
He will most likely bat in the eight hole this year, which is perfect for a young hitter adjusting to major league pitching.
Expect a .260/20 HR/70 RBI kind of season out of Chisenhall.
LF Michael Brantley
Michael Brantley, aka Dr. Smooth, has already proven himself to be a more-than-capable starter in the majors, but he has the tools to get even better at the plate.
Brantley put together his best season last year, posting a .288 batting average, 60 RBI and 12 stolen bases.
His smooth stroke at the plate and plate discipline should allow him to become a .300 hitter for years to come.
The clutch hitting skills that he showed off last year will get him more RBI, as he will get more opportunities to drive in runs with the drastically improved lineup.
The five hole would be a perfect fit for Brantley because he never changes his approach and always takes what the pitcher gives him.
Brantley isn't blazing, but I think he has enough speed and smarts to steal 20 to 25 bases, which will take his game to the next level.
SP Scott Kazmir
Kazmir is attempting a comeback with the Indians after he slowly lost velocity and his confidence from his delivery going out of control.
According to many reports, he looks more like what he was in Tampa—when he was a Cy Young caliber pitcher—than when he was when released by the Los Angeles Angels two years ago.
Kazmir's first two spring training starts have been flawless. He's pitched four shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out four.
If the lefty can return and resemble his old form, then the Indians struck gold and it will give a huge boost to a questionable starting rotation.
Catcher Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana has power at the plate—we all know that. The question with Santana offensively is if he can hit for the average and become a better situational hitter.
The even bigger questions with Santana are his defense and managing the pitchers.
Bench Coach Sandy Alomar Jr. wants Santana to focus on his defense and communication skills this year (via Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer).
Last season, Santana was forced too much on his plate. He had to run the pitching staff and bat cleanup in his spare time.
Hitting cleanup so early in his career could largely explain why he tried too hard to swing for the fences instead of being patient.
This year, he will bat lower in the order, which will take a lot of pressure off of him and allow him to realize he can make a big impact on the game even when he has a bad game at the plate.
Santana's offensive numbers will come naturally, as he is a very gifted hitter.