The Cleveland Indians are one of the first teams to sign a big name free agent this year. They showed that they have talent and a solid batting order but, the main issue in the 2016 World Series was not being able to rely on their big hitters to deliver in the clutch. Napoli was a force for the Indians throughout the regular season, as well as, the beginning of the postseason. The only problem was Napoli had simply too many strikeouts on the year and in the final two games of the World Series. The point I’m making is, when they needed him most, he couldn’t deliver. Napoli was 3rd in MLB in strikeouts with 194. Napoli has the big bat the Indians needed to give them a serious threat at the 4 spot of their batting order, which probably made it hard for Cleveland to let him go. But it’s time to face the facts. Napoli is 35 years old and probably seeking one last big contract. His numbers were great but not enough for the Indians to pay him the money he’s looking for. Especially with what big name players are available.
Edwin Encarnacion was the perfect addition to help make the Indians batting order that much dangerous. He was 3rd in MLB in home runs, 2nd in RBI’s, and 22nd in strikeouts. They can use him the same as Napoli and get more consistency and production. Encarnacion is 33 years old and with his addition, the Indians should be considered a team that has a real shot of making back-to-back appearances in the World Series. The slugger from the Dominican Republic has shown he has the ability to change and even win games with his bat. But, what also makes this a great move by Cleveland, is that he can play first base. Napoli played first for the Indians, basically, they added a better weapon to their arsenal and will not be forced to make multiple moves to fill other positions or to move players around in order to get a certain player.
Now, as most of you already know, the Chicago Cubs ended the longest drought in baseball by winning a World Series after defeating the Indians. But, what some of you may not know is that the Indians now have the longest drought between World Series championship. It has been 68 years and that streak has a real chance of coming to an end this coming season. With players such as Lindor, Kipnis, Santana, Ramirez, and now Encarnacion, it shows the Indians are LOADED on offense. Also, we can’t forget about Cleveland’s bullpen. Kluber, Carrasco, Tomlin, Salazar, Bauer, Miller, and Allen have the Indians sitting in a great spot to be a dominant force in the AL on both offense and defense.
Teams can’t make excuses for losing because of individual players being hurt but, with Salazar and Carrasco being out of the 2016 postseason, it made a HUGE difference. You add those starting pitchers back to the lineup for last year’s postseason run and things may look a lot different. Many teams are showing to have a real shot of making a deep 2017 postseason run. That being said, there are no two teams that show to have more talent than the Indians or the Cubs going into 2017. Not just talent on offense, but talent with depth on defense and in the bullpen. Watch out for the Tribe this season and don’t be surprised if the drought finally comes to an end.