The Cleveland Indians came one win shy of their first World Series Championship since the 1948 season. The Indians blew a 3-1 series lead to the Chicago Cubs before losing game seven at home. Cleveland fans still celebrated their team’s miraculous postseason effort in 2016. 2017 will be a year of higher expectations for the Tribe. Similar to a certain AL Central Division rival, the Cleveland Indians could find a way to win it all next season.
The pitching staff is loaded.
The Indians boast the American League’s best overall pitching staff, on paper. A healthy starting rotation has the potential to lead the league in ERA in 2017. The Cleveland bullpen is one of the American League’s best. Late-inning relief proved to be beneficial to them in 2016. Those core relievers are returning for the 2017 season. The Indians are set at the back end of games. Pitching will be the clear strength for Cleveland next season.
The Lineup is surprisingly good.
The major criticism of the Cleveland Indians, heading into the 2016 season, was their inconsistent offense. The lineup’s ability to score runs in 2014 and 2015 was average at best. The Indians silenced the critics last season with a strong showing at the plate. Cleveland’s lineup looks good on paper for 2017. They can look even scarier if they acquire one more key bat in the off-season.
The young players stepped up in big ways.
The Cubs received all the media attention, in regards to the performance of their young players, in 2016. The Indians’ young core stepped up and shined in October as well. Whether it was with a bat, a ball or a glove, the Cleveland youth movement is very promising. Next season will be the big test for the kids.
The Cubs ended the longest championship drought in sports history at 108 years. The Indians have a lengthy championship drought of their own: 68 years. Similar to Chicago, Cleveland can use this as motivation to finally get that monkey off their backs. The Indians can learn from the Kansas City Royals, in that regard.
The Royals were one win shy of their first world championship in 30 years two years ago. They lost the World Series to the San Francisco Giants in seven games. What happened the next year? Kansas City dominated the American League to reach a second consecutive fall classic. They would win this time around, against the New York Mets.
*Proposal to Indians fans.
This is a message to Cleveland baseball fans: realize how good your team actually is. There better not be large patches of empty seats at Progressive Field in 2017. Your team has a chance to end a 68 year championship drought; you better support them every step of the way. The crowds better be there in April/May like they were in September.
History repeats itself. The Cleveland Indians have the opportunity to rewrite history in 2017. They will have the nice mix of young and veteran players. The pitching is the strength, the offense should take a step forward. The infield and outfield defense is very consistent. Finally, destiny might be on their side similar to Kansas City and Chicago.