The Case For the Cleveland Indians To Win the World Series

The Cleveland Indians are as complete a team as exists in the playoffs. They stand an excellent chance at winning this year's World Series.
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Forget the 22-game winning streak, as none of the other three teams to peel off at least 20 straight—the 2002 A's, 1935 Cubs, and 1916 Giants—won the World Series. Forget the 26–4 final month of the season, as none of the 24 wild card-era teams to play .700 ball or better after August 31 won the World Series, and only two (the 2011 Rangers and 2013 Cardinals) even made it that far. Judged by their full body of work, these Indians are pretty special, particularly when it comes to run prevention. Their 3.51 runs per game allowed isn't just the best in the league by more than half a run, they're one of just seven wild card era teams to allow at least one run per game less than the league average; in that span, their 1.17 differential is second only to the 2001 Mariners' 1.41.

The Indians' rotation is in better shape than this time last year, when they came within one hop of winning their first championship since 1948, Corey Kluber owns the league's lowest ERA (2.25), highest WAR (8.0) and second-highest strikeout rate (11.7 per nine). He's been even better since missing four weeks in May due to a lower back strain (1.62 ERA, 12.1 K/9), holding opposing batters to a .495 OPS in that span. Carlos Carrasco, who missed last year's postseason run due to a fractured metacarpal, ranks sixth in ERA (3.29), fifth in WAR (5.4) and strikeout rate (10.2 per nine) and fourth in FIP (3.10). Trevor Bauer’s been on a roll (2.57 ERA, 4.4 K/BB in his last 11 starts and one relief appearance) and presumably he's learned his lesson about the dangers of drones.

While manager Terry Francona hasn't decided between Danny Salazar and Josh Tomlin for the fourth starter spot, but the choice means that Mike Clevinger, who's enjoyed a breakout season (3.11 ERA, 10.1 K/9 in 121 1/3 innings) will serve as a multi-inning weapon for a bullpen that leads the AL in ERA (3.34) and strikeout rate (10.1 per nine). Last October's weapon, Andrew Miller, hasn't allowed a run in 10 appearances (eight innings, 16 K) since returning from the disabled list, and fellow lefty Tyler Olsen has yet to allow a single run in 20 innings since joining the team.