I think one of the things that has made this journey toward an A.L. Central title for the first time since 2018 and a post-season berth so rewarding is the fact that the Guardians went out and truly earned in.
Sometimes teams win races by virtue of other teams falling flat on their faces. You could certainly argue that Chicago and Minnesota's ineptitude down the stretch played a role in Cleveland's late surge. But the Guardians were the ones that handed the White Sox and Twins a good number of those losses the last few weeks. They went 7-1 against those teams two weeks ago.
Cleveland is a remarkable 21-4 since September 5, the best mark in the big leagues over that stretch.
We've gotten pretty used to Cleveland playing great baseball late in the year in this town. Since Tito Francona took over managing the club in 2013, no team in Major League Baseball has won more games in September.
There are two sides to the argument on playing in a division that sports two of the weakest teams in baseball (looking at you, Detroit and Kansas City).
Yes, Cleveland has bullied the A.L. Central again this year. With six games to go in the regular season (all against the Royals), Cleveland has already locked up a seventh straight winning season within the division. To date, the team is 306-184 (.624) against those four teams since 2016.
On the other hand, what else are they supposed to do? The Guardians aren't going to apologize for beating the teams on their schedule. For as bad as the Tigers and Royals have been this year, lots of national experts said the Guardians were going to be terrible. On top of that, the White Sox and Twins had big offseason acquisitions and were expected to be legitimate deep post-season threats.
But while we've seen them play well late in the year before, I don't think we should take that for granted.
Let's also not lose track of the fact that they are the youngest team in Major League Baseball and would have also been the youngest team in Triple-A if you dropped their current roster in the International or Pacific Coast Leagues.
The Guardians are only the eighth club in Major League history to qualify for the post-season with the youngest roster in the league and they are the first team in the history of the American League to do so. Sarah Langs of MLB.com points out that the last team to pull off such an incredible performance was the 1986 World Series champion New York Mets.
This Cleveland group is also the first team to win a division or league title while seeing 16-or-more rookies make their Major League debuts.
Most teams that play this kind of youth are rebuilding.
Cleveland has played its best baseball late in the season, with the youngest roster in the game, and it almost feels like they're flaunting just how good they are.
Who knows how deep into the postseason they will play. There are still some doubters that they can make a deep run. But I've spoken to several people lately that are calling back memories of the 1997 team that wasn't expected to make much October noise and that ended up being one of the most special runs in franchise history.
However long they play, enjoy the ride and don't take for granted just how special this month has been ... or how bright the future seems to be!
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