No. 7 Cleveland Indians
2000 Record: 90-72 (2nd AL Central)
The Cleveland Indians finished up 2000 as the American League team nobody wanted to play. The only problem was they missed the playoffs -- by one game. To change that in 2001, the Indians will have to get consistent pitching.
That starts with the one-two punch of Bartolo Colon and Chuck Finley. Colon didn't hit his stride until after midseason, and Finley ran hot and cold all year. Dave Burba will be counted on for more solid work in the three-spot, but the rest of the rotation is a question mark. Charles Nagy and Jaret Wright are coming back from injuries and Steve Woodard's ERA has been climbing steadily.
Even without Manny Ramirez, offense shouldn't be a problem with Roberto Alomar, Jim Thome, Travis Fryman and Kenny Lofton around. And the addition of Juan Gonzalez and Ellis Burks should help to ease some of the burden. Burks hit .344 with 34 homers last season.
But the big question is Gonzalez. Putting the two-time MVP In Focus shows that his production has declined over the past three seasons. However, he could have a big season in this lineup with all it's RBI opportunities.
Getting out of Comerica Park will also help Gonzalez, and he should allow Cleveland to stay near the top of the league in runs scored. That's why I rank the Indians as the seventh-best team in baseball.