The Cleveland Indians have been picked by Sports Illustrated to win the World Series
Yes, you are reading that correct, in a world where the national media almost never shines on Cleveland, the largest sports publication in the world has picked the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series.
This may not be as far-fetched as it may seem at first glance.
The Indians did finish third in the American League Central last season, but they only finished behind the eventual American League Champion Kansas City Royals for the Wildcard spot by only a few games.
The Royals lost two of their best players this off-season to free agency as Billy Butler left for the Oakland Athletics and their best pitcher James Shields signed with the San Diego Padres. The Tigers also lost their best pitcher in Max Scherzer as he signed with the Washington Nationals in a deal the team will soon regret.
Both Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrerra are coming off of off-season surgeries as well, which can limit them on how successful the start to their seasons will be.
The Indians themselves didn’t do much in the offseason, with the exception of adding power hitting Brandon Moss in a trade from the Athletics. They didn’t need to however, as they still boast one of the most potent starting rotations in baseball. AL Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber is healthy and ready to duplicate an amazing season.
Carlos Carrasco was nearly unhittable during the final 60 games of the season and if he can return to that form this season, then the Indians will have one of the best one two punches in all of baseball. Young guns Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar are poised to have breakout seasons as both are regarded as two of the best young arms in baseball.
Salazar is bursting with potential and he can keep his curveball moving, to go along with a wicked fastball, he will be untouchable. Much of the same can be said for Bauer, who also posses’ great talent, if he can keep his head in check, he will also be a force.
The lineup is highlighted by the returning MVP candidate Michael Brantley who was one of the best two out hitters in all of baseball last season. He is the exact type of player most teams drool over having in the three-hole. With power bats such as Lonnie Chisenhall and Carlos Santana hitting behind him, expect another big season to be produced from this threesome.
One could argue, that the best pure hitter on the team is Jason Kipnis, he is coming off of a rough season, but if he can bounce back and remain healthy, Kipnis is the perfect man to keep this engine running on all cylinders.
Mix in the veteran leadership of Moss, Bourn and Swisher, along with the unlimited potential of young phenomenal catcher Yan Gomes, and this team can be the one to bring the city of Cleveland their first championship since 1948.
One thing is for sure, it will be fun to watch. Until next time sports fans!