After examining the Tribe’s 2016 season, it’s now time to make a prediction for this season. And after the Indians edged the A’s yesterday, 6-5, I found myself asking questions about how this season would play out.
Q: Can the Indians repeat as AL Central champs?
A: I would certainly hope so. They finished last season 94-67, eight games up on the second-place Tigers. They lost their home-run leader in Mike Napoli, but signed the gem of the offseason, nabbing Edwin Encarnacion. Also playing in their favor is the return of Michael Brantley, who seems to be coming along smoothly from his second shoulder surgery in as many years.
Q: Don’t you worry about other Central teams like the Tigers or Royals having bounce-back years and contending for the division?
A: Of course, but the Tribe has earned my trust. I think they can hold off any contenders. Detroit returns this year with largely the same roster it had last season. The big difference is that the Tigers no longer have centerfielder Cameron Maybin. Also, Anibal Sanchez has struggled this spring. So has most of their staff, to be honest. The Indians were 14-4 against the Tigers last year, and if they do nearly that well this season, they’ll control their own fate in the division. The Royals tragically lost Yordana Ventura. They traded Wade Davis, which hurts their pitching, but did add Jorge Soler. I’m just not sure they have enough quality arms or enough quality bats to compete over 162 games.
Q: So you’re saying the Tribe takes the Central?
A: Yes, by 6 games over the Royals.
Q: Okay, great. That means playoff baseball again, but will they win the American League?
A: Regular season or Postseason?
Q: Weak answer. Both? Either?
A: I’m torn here. I think one or the other, but not both. Boston is loaded. They scare me. But the Tribe has some scary good players too. I think they’ll go about 90-72. Still, it’s hard to pick against the Sox for the regular season, so I guess that means I’m picking the Tribe to take the pennant again.
Q: Pennants are nice, but will friends of the feather have to suffer through another World Series meltdown?
think hope not. I think they’ll have to suffer through seven games, though.
Q: Against which NL team?
A: I do this every year, but I’ve gotta pick the Nats. It has to be their time sometime, right?
Q: So to be clear, you’re saying Cleveland goes 90-72, takes the Central, the AL Pennant, and wins the World Series for the first time in 69 years?
A: Yep! Seems like I am.
photo from sportslogos.net