It’s been a long 70 years since Lou Boudreau’s MVP performance helped the Cleveland Indians overcome the Boston Braves in the World Series. Since then, four World Series have been lost. But, with the team’s first consecutive postseason appearances since the turn of the millennium, there’s an aura of hope growing among Indians fans.
The only problem for Cleveland is that there are many other highly-rated contenders for the crown this season, and slipping up in last season’s ALDS to the New York Yankees haven’t helped their claims. However, the Indians managed to come out of the free agency looking pretty good, patching their major loss quite well.
Now, with one of the best starting rotations in the MLB, a very strong bullpen, and a clinical offense, the Indians appear primed for a great season.
Competition in close proximity
The Cleveland Indians roster is very strong, but their main problem comes from the league that they call home. Cleveland has to contend with the reigning World Series champions, the Houston Astros, as well as the increasingly strong New York Yankees who knocked them out of the postseason last year.
The Houston Astros return with what many deem to be the strongest team in the league once again this year, and with such a young core, they’ll be raring for another championship. But, defending the World Series is one of the most difficult tasks in baseball – a team hasn’t achieved consecutive World Series wins since the phenomenal New York Yankees in 1998, 1999, and 2000.
Regardless of this, the Astros are still heavily favored to go all the way coming out of the American League, making the task particularly difficult for other teams in the AL.
However, with the Los Angeles Dodgers as the primary contenders from the National League, it could be perceived that whoever triumphs in the AL should have the tools to win in the World Series. As it stands, the Astros are favored at +550 to win the World Series, but the Yankees and Dodgers are at +600, and the Indians are at +750 in the MLB odds at bet365. It could very well come down to which of the three favored teams in the AL comes out on top in this dogfight.
Cleveland coming in strong
The MLB free agency often makes or breaks teams. Spending the offseason filling in the gaps is crucial to a team’s advancement.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, Carlos Santana, who has been integral to the Indians’ rise, left for a huge deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Luckily, in quite the shrewd move, the Indians managed to sign first baseman Yonder Alonso to plug the gap.
Cleveland was able to acquire Alonso on a rather cheap deal, especially as he had such a similar season to Santana in 2017. This is because he suddenly developed a wealth of power, so now there’s the question of if it’s real. Given that Alonso’s breakout season came between two clubs that aren’t particularly hitter-friendly, and it came from some major adjustments that he made to his swing, it looks as though Cleveland has pulled away with a bargain in Yonder Alonso.
In less exciting, but not surprising news, Danny Salazar will start the season on the DL. While this is disappointing for Cleveland fans – especially given the big trade rumors that surrounded Salazar for much of the offseason – it’ll be good to see one of the best young pitchers, Mike Clevinger, enter into the starting rotation.
This Cleveland team has it in them to completely dominate the AL Central once again this season, and even claim the first back-to-back 100-win season in the franchise’s history. From there, it’ll come down to their battles within the American League. The Indians will need to muster some very clever performances to overcome the other AL superpowers, but if they can do that, they should be able to overcome whatever awaits them in the World Series.