The Cleveland Indians are coming off of four playoff appearances in five seasons, and five in eight seasons but Fangraphs still underestimate them.
It’s officially the start of Spring Training and with that comes the Indians-slander. The Tribe, who have not had a losing season under Terry Francona, is given only 17.4% of a chance to make the postseason in 2021. This, despite bringing back most of their top talent from the year before.
The only two big names not coming back are Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. Lindor had a dreadful 2020 season and was a big reason why the team struggled; failing to execute when needed. Especially early in the season. Carrasco, on the other hand, won the Comeback Player of the Year, again but will turn 34 in March. That much strain on his arm has to take its effect eventually.
Despite bringing back Shane Bieber and Jose Ramirez, the AL’s Cy Young winner and MVP runner-up (and rightful winner), re-signing Cesar Hernandez, and bringing in some interesting veteran names, the Indians are still well behind the Twins and White Sox. All three teams were separated by just one win last year and while on paper the Twins and Sox added talent, they’re not exactly given to repeat their success.
After all, this wouldn’t be the first time the Twins bottomed out after a strong year, nor would this be the first time the Sox failed to benefit from their big-money acquisitions. On the other hand, the Indians have been replacing and bringing in new talent steadily since 2013. The amount of turnover the Tribe has had is quite robust.
Since Francona took over in 2013, the Twins have had four losing seasons and the White Sox have had seven. The Indians have had zero.
So while it’s all well and great that teams are given the top prize simply because of name value, how about actually respecting the people that build these clubs? Mark these words; the Indians will once again be in playoff contention in 2021 and one of those AL Central clubs that are “ahead” of the Tribe will fail to impress.
It could always be worse, just ask Baltimore.