The Cleveland Indians have now won 21 consecutive games, which is tied for the longest winning streak in MLB history. The last time this happened, a gallon of gas was 10 cents, a loaf of bread was eight cents and the average cost of a new house was $3,450. Yeah, the only other team to win 21 games in a row was the 1935 Chicago Cubs.
Wednesday’s 5-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers moved the Indians past the 2002 “Moneyball” Oakland Athletics for the American League’s all-time consecutive win streak record.
In certain ways, the 2002 Athletics and 2017 Indians are similar. Both were among the bottom half in payroll, but when it comes to statistics, the 2017 Indians have a clear advantage.
In fact, as of today, the Indians are among the top two in the AL in on base percentage, slugging percentage, weighted runs created plus, adjusted ERA, adjusted FIP, wins above replacement and winning percentage. Among those statistics, winning percentage was the only one that the Athletics were first or second in. This is a dangerous team who can clearly do it all.
So how does a team that ranked 17th in payroll on Opening Day appear virtually unstoppable? Well, in previous articles, we have talked about the keys to building a championship team. Among these holy keys are drafting/signing young studs, smart free agent additions, good trades, a strong starting rotation and a lockdown bullpen. Based on these qualifications, the 2017 Indians look ready to capture their first World Series since 1948.
It is important to note three of their top five paid players, Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis and Andrew Miller. They have spent a lot of time on the DL, which makes the win streak even crazier. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why the Indians are the hottest team in baseball.
Young Studs for not so big bucks
Francisco Lindor, SS
2017 Salary: $579,300 (34th highest paid SS)
.276BA 86R 30HR 78RBI 13SB
Lindor was taken eighth overall by Cleveland in the 2011 MLB June amateur draft. After a somewhat slow start to his 2017 campaign, Lindor has been on a tear. During this outlandish 21-game win streak, Lindor is slashing .364 with a 1.229 OPS, along with nine home runs and 19 RBIs. In only his third season, Lindor is turning into a superstar, and one of the best all-around players this game has to offer.
Lucky for the Indians, drafting Lindor could turn out to be one of the best moves this team has made in years. Since he is still in the pre-arbitration part of his career, Lindor is making less than $600K. Here are a few players at his position, and their statistics, who are a tad wealthier.
Troy Tulowitski SS, Toronto Blue Jays
2017 Salary: 20,000,000
In 66 games: .249BA 16R 7HR 26RBI
Brandon Crawford SS, San Francisco Giants
2017 Salary: 8,200,000
In 129 Games: .247BA .297OBP 13 HR
Jose Ramirez, 2B, 3B
2017 Salary: $571,400 with a $400,000 signing bonus (28th highest paid 3B)
In 138 Games: .309BA 94R 26HR 73RBI 15SB
As a Red Sox fan, I am patiently waiting for this guy to get caught with some sort of HGH. But seriously, Jose Ramirez is a legit MVP threat. He leads the Indians in batting average, slugging percentage and runs, as well as leading all of baseball in doubles with 47. Ramirez is also extremely versatile, starting 88 games at third, and 57 at second. In his second season as an everyday player, the 24-year-old has shown that he is deserving of his five-year contract extension that he signed in March.
Todd Frazier, 3B, New York Yankees
2017 Salary: 12,000,000
In 131 Games: .209BA .337OBP
Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
2017 Salary: 13,000,000
In 142 Games: .264BA .318OBP
Elite Starting Pitching
Carlos Carrasco– 15-6 201K 3.41ERA (2017 Salary: $6,500,00)
Mike Clevinger– 10-5 3.21ERA (2017 Salary: $535,000)
Trevor Bauer– (last 30 days) 6-0 2.87ERA 10.51K/9 (2017 Salary: $3,550,000)
The total 2017 salary of these three Indians pitchers is $10,585,000. Johnny Cueto (4.58 ERA), Rick Porcello (4.64 ERA) and James Shields (5.40 ERA) are all making over $20,000,000 this year.
Corey Kluber– Frontrunner for the AL CY Young
Did I mention the Klubot? Yes, Corey Kluber is more like a robot than he is a human. In 2017, Kluber is 16-4 with a 2.44 ERA, 243 strikeouts and an insane .191 BAA. Not only does he lead the league in wins and ERA, Kluber is also first in complete games, shutouts, ERA+ and WHIP.
Joe Smith, Cody Allen, Zach McAllister, Andrew Miller and Nick Goody are all holding opposing hitters to a .240 BA or below. In the last 30 days, Dan Otero has an ERA of 0.71. During that same span, Bryan Shaw has a .229 BAA and a K/9 of 13.5. This bullpen is just filthy right now, and with Andrew Miller coming back in the near future, the Indians may never lose again.
Edwin Encarnacion: Signed this past offseason
In 141 Games: 87R 34HR 88RBI
Encarnacion has been everything that the Indians hoped for. In the last 15 days, Encarnacion is hitting .327 with 12RBI.
Jay Bruce: 8/9/17 Traded by the New York Mets to the Cleveland Indians for Ryder Ryan
2017 Season: 33HR 90RBI
In 26 games with the Indians, Bruce has hit four home runs, and driven in 15. With major injuries to the outfield, Bruce will play a key role down the stretch.
No one is really overpaid on this team, and the players are playing out of their minds. With smart drafting, outstanding pitching and good offseason/in-season moves, it is no surprise the Indians are in first place. Today, Cleveland looks to make it 22 straight against Jake Junis and the Kansas City Royals.
Featured image by NPR.org
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