- 2014 Finish: 85-77, 3rd in AL Central
- 2015 Key to Success: Michael Brantley and Corey Kluber must prove star status
Is there a better baseball manager than Terry Francona?
Not only did he slay the 86-year dragon in Boston, but he’s now seemingly transformed the Cleveland Indians into winners overnight.
What’s amazing is where the Indians fit in among the ranks in team salary: 26th with a $81.8 million, and Francona still wins.
Two seasons in Cleveland for the old Red Sox boss has yielded a record of 177-147 which includes a Wild Card berth in 2013. Despite no household names, this franchise is now on the fast track to winning.
Speaking of household names, 2015 will be the year Michael Brantley and Corey Kluber enter that conversation.
For Brantley, a man who was extremely hyped up coming through the farm, he couldn’t find his way to star status, never hitting over 10 HR or .300 plus in a single season. 2015 changed it all for the now 27-year old.
Brantley exploded for 20 HR, 97 RBI and a .327 BA, earning himself a trip to his first All-Star game.
Kluber was exactly in the same boat.
The 28-year old was a late big league bloomer. His first 100 plus inning season was in 2013 that provided modest results. Last season saw Kluber lead the league in starts (34), wins (18), and finish second in strikeouts with 269.
While those are bonafide stats for an ace pitcher, Kluber truly won’t be one until he sports consecutive seasons of that nature. Same goes for Brantley.
With the organization doing very little in the offseason, these two guys will be crucial for the team’s success.
Next: Kansas City Royals