“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2015): Fun Times in Cleveland Again!

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2015 season. Previous installments can be found here. Today, Cleveland!

Sports Illustrated has predicted that the Cleveland Indians will win the World Series this season, breaking the Curse of Rocky Colavito and bringing (depending on how the Cavaliers do) possibly the first “Big Four” title to Cleveland since the 1964 Browns*.

I don’t agree with them, but I can sort of see where they are coming from- the Indians are one of those teams that are way better than many people think.

After all, they have some of the most underrated players in the game. Michael Brantley came in third place for MVP last year, and yet he’s most anonymous. Yan Gomes is becoming one of the best catchers in the league. Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana are good and sometimes great, although Santana had a bad year batting average last year (he made up for it, some could argue, by leading the league in walks). New addition Brandon Moss has pop.

And, oh, right, they have the reigning AL Cy Young in Corey Kluber, who may be the most anonymous Cy Young Award winner ever. I’m reasonably sure that if you asked 100 baseball fans who won the AL Cy Young last year, most of them would think it was Felix Hernandez or Chris Sale or that Clayton Kershaw was so good they just gave him the AL Cy Young based on his interleague games. And it’s not just Kluber- SI noted this:

“After last year’s All-Star break the rotation led the majors in strikeout rate (9.33 per nine), home run rate (0.56 per nine) and FanGraphs’ WAR (11.0), while trailing only the Nationals in ERA (2.95).”

 

Hmm… maybe SI is on to something.

If they are, LeBron James really is going to have to win the NBA title this season, otherwise his title as Cleveland’s savior might end up taken by Terry Francona (who, of course, has a habit of breaking curses). I mean, damn, he comes back to Cleveland and it ends up that the Indians end the city’s long championship drought? And what if they beat the Yankees on the way? Oh, the awkwardness!

Next Time: The Reds

*Football note: It is a cruel irony that all of the Browns’ titles came before the Super Bowl was instituted, as the Super Bowl ended up becoming such an institution that the NFL’s pre-Super Bowl champions have become almost afterthoughts in the sport’s history. The Browns won 4 pre-Super Bowl NFL championships and four title in the All-America Football Conference, a sort of proto-AFL that was partially absorbed into the NFL in 1950. However, their total lack of titles- even conference titles- in the Super Bowl era have turned them into a joke amongst football fans. A similar cruel fate has befallen the Detroit Lions and the Buffalo Bills’ AFL championship teams.

 

 

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2014 SEASON PREVIEW (PART 3): Best Case/Worst Case for… the AL CENTRAL (with Getty Images)

We continue our big preview of the MLB Season by looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for the AL Central. And, what’s more, that includes Getty Images, no matter how irrelevant the picture is.

Detroit Tigers

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Best-Case Scenario: Who need Prince Fielder? They have Miguel Cabrera still, and their starting rotation is still one where the reigning Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer, may not even be the ace, due to Justin Verlander. And they now have Joe Nathan as their closer! With that, there can only be one best-case scenario: World Series Title.

Worst-Case Scenario: The Tigers are seized and sold to pay off Detroit’s bankruptcy debt.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Joe Nathan starts showing his age, Verlander’s below-average-by-his-standards season last year turns out to have been the start of his decline, and it turns out that maybe Miguel Cabrera did need Prince Fielder. And even then, they still probably are in the playoff hunt.

Cleveland Indians

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Best-Case Scenario: They make the playoffs again, and actually make it farther than the Wild Card game this time.

Worst-Case Scenario: Nick Swisher secedes from the Union to found the state of “Brohio”.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: With two pitchers (Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir) having left in Free Agency, the depth isn’t what it used to be, and the Indians are left in the dust in the AL Central.

Kansas City Royals

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Best-Case Scenario: The youngsters make a great leap forward, James Shields continues to do well, and the Royals sneak in as a Wild Card.

Worst-Case Scenario: Young guys flop or get hurt, James Shields starts to take a downturn, and the Royals fall back into the total basement.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: See above. I couldn’t come up with anything outrageous for the Royals.

Minnesota Twins

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Best-Case Scenario: Joe Mauer wins the batting title and upsets both Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis for the 1st-base starting spot at the All-Star Game. The new pitchers turn out to be genius moves. The Twins end the season near .500 and plenty of good prospects in their future.

Worst-Case Scenario: Joe Mauer goes outside Justin Morneau‘s house to play 1980s power ballads from an oversized stereo system. Hurts himself lifting that stereo. Misses rest of season.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: The pitchers brought in flop, Mauer doesn’t improve all that much playing every day at 1B, or, worse, gets hurt. Prospects get hurt or hit a ceiling. Last place. Glen Perkins is the lone Twins All-Star at Target Field after Josh Willingham‘s “Final Vote” campaign falls short due to the fact he’s going against Derek Jeter, who will end up in the ASG this year, no matter how or what, even if he’s hitting .220.

Chicago White Sox

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Best-Case Scenario: The Jose Abreu signing is genius and some other stuff goes right (primarily with the pitching staff), and the White Sox are a surprise contender for awhile before fading in the second half.

Worst-Case Scenario: They do more-or-less what they did last year, and Paul Konerko gets so depressed he decides to retire early.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: See above, only presumably without the Konerko retirement.

Next on the list of Best Case/Worst Case: The AL West.