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.