The Cleveland Indians are in an excellent position this season, coming off a year where they shocked the baseball world by making it to, then stretching the World Series to seven games. While their opponents in the AL Central are mostly in rebuild mode, this team is packed with young talent, enough to propel them back to a deep post season run in 2017.
Cleveland’s pitching rotation is enviable, starting with ace Corey Kluber, followed by Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer. Besides two relief appearances by Salazar, he and Carrasco sustained injuries last September and were completely absent from post season baseball. The Indians’ rotation will start spring training with everyone healthy and ready to go, an excellent thing for this talented team. When it comes to their bullpen, Cleveland is stacked with the core group consisting of Andrew Miller, Dan Otero, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen. The center of the Indians’ infield houses the stout duo made up of Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis. Shortstop Lindor won his first Gold Glove last season and is shaping up to be the future face of the organization with his youthful talent, speed and power. Cleveland addressed a gaping hole in their lineup by signing Edwin Encarnacion during the offseason, who should split time at first base with Carlos Santana, who is coming off a career high 34 homers in 2016. Versatile Jose Ramirez switched from left field to third base last summer and made the position his. The talented switch hitter is strong and fast, and provides solid potential for stolen bases.
Last season, manager Terry Francona was successful using a platoon for all three outfield positions. Michael Brantley is looking to rebound after two shoulder surgeries, and if truly healed, could take over left field full time. However, both right field and center could be platoons once again with Abraham Almonte and Tyler Naquin splitting time in center, while Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer make up the right field position. Behind the plate still remains a question mark, as both Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez are returning from injuries that kept them sidelined for most of last season.
When the 2017 season officially kicks off, Cleveland will be going for their fifth consecutive winning campaign, along with a return trip to the World Series. Progressive Field was revamped over the past two years, creating a more fan-friendly environment. This season is shaping up to be an exciting one in Cleveland, so grab some peanuts, a hot dog and your Cleveland Indians tickets and head out to the ballpark often this summer. You won’t want to miss out on all the thrilling on-field action!
The Cleveland Indians are an intriguing franchise. They have had a run so bad that they were the club chosen for a major motion picture about the unlikeliest of winners (Major League), but, eerily, followed this movie up with a run of domination should have ended in more than two World Series losses. The team’s history is not solely defined by these two eras (the rough period from 1960 to 1993 and the glorious time from 1995 to 2001).
Previous to all this, the Indians won two World Series, first in 1920 and second in 1948. Tris Speaker’s impressive hitting and Jim Bagby’s stellar pitching led the Indians to the first. Joe Gordon, Ken Keltner, and Lou Boudreau were the offensive catalysts and the Bob Lemon, Bob Feller, and Gene Bearden dominated on the mound for the second.
The slump years followed and, like any MLB team, there had to be a curse. Rocky Colavito was traded to the Tigers in 1960 for Harvey Kuenn. Colavito would continue to thrive while Kuenn, a former batting champion did not. Colavito claimed never to have cursed the team. Instead, the era is more accurately named the Curse of Frank Lane, a GM with a talent for making disastrous moves.
Luckily, eventually John Hart took the GM job and he built a roster with plenty of young stars. Albert Belle, Jim Thome, and Manny Ramirez hit for power. Kenny Loften played amazing defense in center and dominated on the base paths. Roberto Alomar and Omar Vizquel played great defense up the middle. Add the efforts of Charles Nagy, Dennis Martinez, and Orel Hershiser and Cleveland won six AL Central titles in seven years. The Indians tried to recreate the success in the 21st century, but the baseball team would not quite enjoy the same success as the team only added one more division title.