The Cleveland Indians had huge expectations in 2017, fueled originally by the team’s World Series run the year prior, which was only stoked by the surprise signing of Edwin Encarnacion. The lone goal was not achieved, but 2017 proved to be one of the most successful and exciting years in the team’s history.
Here are the top-5 moments from the 2017 Cleveland Indians:
If fans around baseball did not know who Jose Ramirez was prior to 2017, they know him now, partly due to his 56-double season, leading everyone. Despite his slight stature, Ramirez turned in 91 extra-base hits (almost half of his 186 total knocks) en route to finishing 3rd in the MVP voting.
As the Indians were gearing up for a hopeful playoff run, Ramirez etched his name into the record books by doing what he does best. Against the lowly Detroit Tigers, the switch-hitter tied an MLB record with 5 extra-base hits at the spacious Comerica Park, three doubles and two home runs.
Along the way, Ramirez became the first player in the Modern Era to post 14 or more XBH over 7 games from June 14th to the 19th, doubling in each of those games, and had a nine-game extra-base hit streak from the 14th to the 21st.
Those 91 XBH were the 2nd-most in a single season from a switch hitter, trailing only Lance Berkman’s 94 in 2001.
All Austin Jackson needed was a chance to bounce back from knee injuries, and did he ever in 2017, posting a career-high slash line of .318/.387/.482 over 85 games.
While those injuries robbed Jackson of some of his elite athleticism, he showed a flash of what he had done previously in his career when Hanley Ramirez hit a fly ball to deep center.
Once was probably satisfying enough for Corey Kluber to win the Cy Young Award, but the Indians ace cemented himself among the club’s elite when he came from behind to snatch his second award from the runaway train that was Chris Sale.
When Kluber went down with a back injury at the beginning of May, it was a question as to what form he would return with, whenever he did so. The answer was unlike anything many Indians fans had ever seen.
After being activated from the disabled list on June 1st, Kluber finished the season by going 15-2 over 23 starts, with a 1.62 ERA and 224 strikeouts in that span. Despite Sale looking like he already had the award locked up by the time Kluber even emerged from the DL, the latter was considered the front runner for the final month of the year.
At 31, a third Cy Young Award would all but punch Kluber’s ticket to Cooperstown, and he has a decent window to achieve it. While his two post-season starts were less than desirable, his regular season performance was one of the best in team history.
Leave it to the face of the franchise to turn in the biggest of moments at the start and tail-end of the seasons.
In just his age-23 season, Lindor finished 5th in the MVP voting after posting a career high in doubles (44), home runs (33), RBI (89), walks (60), Slugging% (.505), and OPS (.842).
Within a big season, Lindor was primed for big moments, which he turned in in the season’s opening series and final series, the ALDS.
Trailing 6-4 in the 9th of the final game of a three-game opening series sweep of the Rangers, Lindor launched a grand slam into the Texas night to win it.
Just like he had at the beginning of the season, Lindor hit another grand slam just when the team needed it. After falling behind early, the Indians found themselves down 8-3 in the 6th. After a controversial hit-by-pitch of Lonnie Chisenhall, Lindor put his team down one with enough time to play.
Jay Bruce would tie things up before a Yan Gomes walk-off double in extra-innings.
Speaking of Bruce, not to mention Lindor and Ramirez, they provided the top moment of the season to cap the best stretch of the year. With an American League record 21-straight wins, the final game of the streak was the most fun.
With the streak in the balance in the bottom of the 9th, struggling outfielder Tyler Naquin set in motion the run of events leading to the tying run with a single. After a Francisco Mejia pinch-hit fielder’s choice, Francisco Lindor doubled to left to drive in pinch-runner Erik Gonzalez.
In the 10th, Ramirez stretched a routine single into a double, before the Indians’ waiver-deadline acquisition drove him in to keep the streak alive one more day.
The Indians lost on September 15th, only to win their next five after that, and finishing winners of 10 of their last 13.