CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – I had been writing columns masked as game recaps for this site, and intended to do the same here, but it didn’t feel right. In my head I would go into the 1-19 mark the batting order from the top five spots had or maybe scope out the unlikeliness of the Cy Young front runner imploding in consecutive starts. That seemed like child’s play though.
This space and this forum demanded more, your 167 game season investment demanded more.
In 1994 MLB cost the 2017 Indians, they just didn’t plan to or realize they would. In the strike shortened season, baseball made the move to expand the playoffs from four teams to eight and in the process nullified truly great teams.
There have been 23 100-win teams in that time frame, and only three have won the World Series, a ratio that encapsulates postseason baseball these days. The best team won’t win the large majority of the time, but you’ll always get a team with built in story lines and talent to prop up.
Of course, this only hurts if you’re a truly great team where the postseason playing field becomes neutralized. The outcome is based in small sample sizes in a sport that continually shies away from low processed data and gears to large amounts of information before drawing conclusions. Hell, SABR friends will tell you it takes three seasons before accurately judging a player’s defense, and even then it becomes dicey at best.
The problem here is that the system changed so drastically, but our idea that the best team always wins didn’t shift fast enough with it. It’s easy to look at the ’06 Cardinals team and at 83 wins proclaim they “pushed all the right buttons” and “clicked at the right time” but how do we look at the 100-win teams that underperform? I can’t explain Lindor finishing the series 2-18 or Ramirez going 2-20 and have my opinion change in the slightest on the two of them. They’re still great players with long and bright futures ahead of them.
That brings me to the positive of it all. The Indians have checked off the most important box when it comes to postseason baseball in that they’re primed to see the playoffs for an extended period of time. This team next year will have an AL central that’ll see the Twins topping out at near 80 wins as the biggest threat.
So, I’m giving you the pass. It’s okay to admit this season didn’t go as planned and you’re disappointed with the outcome. It’s alright to say you’re upset.
This Indians season will be remembered for the 22 game winning streak more than anything. It’s not what anyone would’ve preferred when the streak ended, but nobody throws parades for first round exits, and this team fell short of the big goal.
If this season was a fluke or a mirage, and the prospect of postseason success in the future was a pipe dream then I would view this differently. It’s not though. The main components of the core will be back, and so will the Indians next postseason.