Can Indians finally end drought?
Fresh of its record setting season, the Cleveland Indians begin the American League Division Series (ALDS) on Thursday Oct. 4 against either the New York Yankees or the Central Division runner-up Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field.
The Tribe won the third most games in its long history (102), including a remarkable 22 game win streak that was the best in the modern era of Major League Baseball.
Many experts have blatantly stated this Indians team is among the best ever assembled from top to bottom, pitching, hitting, defense, power and managing and their statistics validate those lofty accolades.
Second baseman Jose Ramirez is among the leading candidates for AL MVP, with a top four batting average .318.
Off season acquisition Edwin Encarnacion limped out of the gate, but roared back with finish with an AL fifth best 38 home runs and fifth best 107 RBI.
Young superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor added pop to his clutch hitting with 33 homers and is already considered among the best at his position in all of baseball.
The pitching department is where the Indians are so darn good that few are already inking them into the American League Championship Series and the World Series where last year they lost a 7 game heartbreaker to the Chicago Cubs.
Corey Kluber is a lock to win the Cy Young Award for best pitcher in the AL with his 18-4 record and league leading 2.25 earn run average.
Carlos Carrasco is second in the AL with an 18-6 record and 3.29 ERA, while Trevor Bauer (17-9) is fourth in wins with a 4.19 ERA.
The bullpen anchored by Cody Allen is lights out which is why the Indians finished with the most wins in the American League and the second most to the Los Angeles Dodgers 104.
Moreover, the Tribe has dominated both the Yankees and Twins going 5-2 against the Bronx Bombers and 12-7 against their division rivals.
That’s the good news. The bad news is the Indians still have not won a World Series since 1948 and in the previous season where they won 100 or more games they lost in the World Series.
In 1954, the Indians finished 111-43 and lost to the Giants in the Fall Classic and in 1995, Cleveland went a blistering 100-44, only to lose in the World Series in heart breaking fashion.
So, while the reigning back-to-back Central Division champions appear quite capable of ending that drought of ’48, they are equally capable of getting beat in the playoffs.
Did that remarkable win streak empty the tank? Is the soon to be free agent Ramirez really this good or will he be tamed in the post season? Will Encarnacion revert back to the slugger at the beginning of the season?
Can this team score enough runs to back-up the nasty stuff of Kluber?
The regular season is over now and as great as it was, Terry Francona would trade all of that in for a championship parade.