The Indians are now just seven days away from starting the 2017 season, and the excitement level is getting to a fever pitch among Tribe fans.
Between now and next week there will be plenty of preseason projections as to how many games the Indians will win, as well as how things will play out in the 2017 MLB season.
After a run to the 7th game of the World Series last year, the Indians today are getting a lot of love from ESPN, as they are ranked second in their official preseason power rankings.
The Tribe find themselves ranked second just past the Chicago Cubs, the team that bested them in that historic seventh game at Progressive Field.
ESPN has the Cubs ranked 1st with 98 wins, while the Indians are second at 87 wins, winning the AL Central.
Here’s what the site says about the Indians:
2. Cleveland Indians
2017 projected record: 87-75 (first in AL Central)
World Series odds: 5-1
1. Best case: While other teams fight for their lives in September, the Indians get 20 games against projected losing teams. If they can overcome their injury problems and the offense is as good as expected, they might even clinch early enough to rest their pitching staff in time for the postseason.
2. Worst case: Seven games against the Red Sox in August contribute to the team’s toughest month. If injuries to Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco and others linger, it could snowball and let one of Cleveland’s AL Central rivals sprint past its preseason forecast.
3. Swing factors: If the Tigers or Royals are threatening Cleveland’s spot in the standings, 10 games against those two teams in September may decide the issue. And the health of Brantley will be key. Brantley, who finished third in MVP voting in 2014 and hit .310/.379/480 in 2015, had right shoulder surgery in November 2015, right biceps surgery in August 2016 and played just 11 games in 2016. He throws left-handed, so the comeback is all about his ability to swing the bat. The Indians have worked him slowly in spring training and are counting on having him in the lineup for the bulk of the season.
Ranked third behind the Indians are the Boston Red Sox, a team that many have felt have leapfrogged the Indians this offseason despite the Indians sweeping them in the ALDS back in October.