The 2016 Cleveland Indians got hot, but not like this.
The 14 straight wins of last year’s Indians pale in comparison to this season’s record-breaking 21-game win streak.
With the playoffs approaching, here are five reasons why the Indians will be playing a lot more baseball this season.
1. Wunderkind Francisco Lindor is smacking the ball.
Boywonder-turned-superhero Francisco Lindor has been on fire during the Indians’ streak, hitting .365 and smacking eight home runs since Cleveland decided to stop losing on Aug. 24. Last season, Lindor hit .310 in the playoffs and the 23-year old leadoff hitter should be even more comfortable there this season.
2. The pitching staff refuses to allow runs, making it difficult for opponents to score.
Since the streak began, Cleveland’s starters have gone 19-0 with a 1.70 ERA. In 16 of the 21 games, opponents have only squeaked out two or fewer runs. Corey Kluber, after finishing third in the AL Cy Young voting last season, is somehow pitching even better this season, leading the American League with 16 wins and a 2.44 ERA. During the streak, he has registered twice as many Wins as Walks: He is 4-0 with 2 free passes and a 1.41 ERA.
3. Sources indicate that this team is fun.
Don’t take it from me, take it from Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez.
Ramirez, like Kluber, is playing even better than he did during his breakout 2016 campaign. He leads the American League in doubles and has batted .388 with 18 extra-base hits in the 17 games he has played during the win streak. Hitting the ball hard and winning games would be pretty fun, so I understand the impetus for his tweet.
4. It’s drought-ending season.
The Cleveland Indians have not won a World Series since 1948, but ’tis the (prolonged) season to change that. The drought-ending season started with LeBron James’ block on Andre Iguodala in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals and is, arguably, ongoing. The Cavaliers ended Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought in 2016 and the Chicago Cubs followed suit with a victory of their own, snapping their streak of 108 years without a World Series championship. A year ago at this time, the Cubs and Indians held the longest World Series championship droughts. Could both droughts have evaporated by the time November rolls around?
5. There are 21 reasons to believe in the Indians.
Just last month, the Los Angeles Dodgers were the greatest baseball team since the combination of the 1906 Cubs, 1998 Yankees and 2001 Seattle Mariners. Stories were written arguing why it was, maybe, possible for them to lose. But then, just a day after the Indians started their streak, the Dodgers miraculously dropped 16 of 17. It’s true that the Dodgers are enjoying a hard-fought and joyous one-game win streak, but they are not the team they were in the middle of the summer. The team who wins the World Series is often the one peaking at the right time. Right now, that sounds like the Indians.
In a funky, funky baseball season, who knows what could happen? Maybe the Milwaukee Brewers will create a new narrative by sneaking into the playoffs and winning the World Series. But probably not. If you had to bet, the Cleveland Indians will be champs for the first time in 69 years.