Last week, 12 Cleveland Indians writers from six different sites participated in a big survey to collect predictions for the 2012 season. We’ve already given you our bold predictions for the coming year, our projections for how the Tribe will finish, and our picks for who will lead the team in some key statistical categories.
Today, we offer our predictions for who will be the best (or worst) in different areas of the game this season: Best Hitter, Best Fielder, Best Pitcher, Biggest Breakout Star, Biggest Disappointment, and Best Overall Player.
For the category of Best Hitter, nine of the 12 panelists went for Carlos Santana, while the other three chose Shin-Soo Choo. Per wRC+ Santana was better than Choo in 2011, 120 to 104, though he ranked behind Jason Kipnis (135) and Travis Hafner (123).
We had a tie for Best Fielder, with Jack Hannahan and Casey Kotchman each earning four votes. Lou Marson got two votes, while Andy Cooper picked Michael Brantley and our own Katie Hendershot went with Asdrubal Cabrera. Going by UZR, Hannahan paced the team last year with 8.4.
Justin Masterson ran away with the voting for Best Pitcher, earning the support of 10 of our panelists. The other two—SABRTribe‘s David McGarry and our own Steve Kinsella—went with Ubaldo Jimenez. Masterson paced Jimenez in every major category except strikeouts in 2011.
Kipnis won a plurality of five votes for Biggest Breakout Star, followed by Brantley with three votes. Meanwhile, WaitingForNextYear‘s TD chose Santana, The Tribe Daily‘s Nino Colla picked Shelley Duncan, The Cleveland Fan‘s Ed Carroll went with Lonnie Chisenhall, and McGarry wrote that “The masses will realize how good Vinnie Pestano is.”
We saw quite a bit of diversity of opinion in the Biggest Disappointment category. Three votes were all it took to give Chris Perez the (dis)honor; right on his heels were Ubaldo Jimenez and Asdrubal Cabrera with 2.5 votes each (our own Brian Heise named both on his ballot) and Grady Sizemore with two. Rounding out the results, Carroll picked Brantley and Colla went with Joe Smith.
Finally, Santana won out for Best Overall Player with a majority of seven votes. Choo came in second with three votes, followed by Cabrera with 1.5 votes and Kipnis with half a vote (Carroll picked the Cabrera-Kipnis combination). Interestingly, according to FanGraphs’ wins above replacement, no one picked the Tribe’s best player in 2011: Masterson.