Cleveland Indians: What Will Abraham Almonte’s Role be in 2017?

The Cleveland Indians have a decision to make regarding what Abraham Almonte’s role will be for the team in 2017 when Michael Brantley is back.

It’s 2017 boys and girls, and you know what that means—Abraham Almonte will be getting back into the swing of things with the Cleveland Indians.

Well, hopefully.

Almonte was sorely missed during the first half of 2016 after being suspended in late February of last year due to testing positive for the performance enhancer known as Boldenone. The steroid, known to (usually) be given to horses, sent him to the restricted list for a full 80 games, and took away his chances at postseason play.

He was supposed to fill in the spot that Michael Brantley left when he headed to the DL. Instead, Tyler Naquin proved to exceed expectations as Almonte’s replacement, holding a 1.73 range factor and a .990 fielding percentage, but it would have been nice to have the stability with Almonte.

Now, the Indians are hoping for Michael Brantley’s highly anticipated return this season. Even with all the rumors of his bad shoulder, the Indians’ Reddit team dismissed Brantley’s ‘horrific injury’ rumors.

Naquin has earned his spot as an integral part of the Tribe’s outfield. So, where does that leave Almonte?

When he did play this year, Almonte held his own in the outfield. He had a 1.40 range factor and a .976 fielding percentage. He batted .264/.294/.401, and had a .695 OPS in his 67 games played this year.

In 2015, he batted .250/.310/.409, with a .719 OPS. He rang in 24 RBI and five home runs playing for the San Diego Padres and the Indians. He also ranked 22nd in the AL for his five triples.

He’s just not as solid as the healthy version of Brantley. Brantley hit .327/.385/.506 in 2014, which also included 20 home runs and 97 RBI. His fielding stats included a .996 fielding percentage and a 1.92 range factor. On top of that, Naquin did great in the outfield. Why fix something that isn’t broken?

Almonte may alternate around the outfield with Naquin, Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Brandon Guyer all expecting to see a great deal of playing time in 2017. But still expect the Indians to make use of Almonte, as he’s too powerful to continue to bench. The question is whether or not he will make a permanent spot for himself in the outfield, or if he will wind up as Brantley’s backup plan.

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