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Legends On Deck

Even After Tough World Series Loss, Indians Had A Great 2016 Season

RON VESELY/MLB PHOTOS

Rajai Davis hits home run to tie Game 7 at 6-6 in the bottom of the eighth inning off closer Aroldis Chapman. RON VESELY/MLB PHOTOS

Over the past few days after the 2016 World Series ended in seven epic games, pinning the Cleveland Indians against the Chicago Cubs, all the news has been about the Cubs winning for the first time since 1908, and even though it has all been justified and well worth writing about, the Indians do deserve a lot of credit for all they accomplished in 2016.

If I wanedt to look at the turning point of their season, I have to look back to Game 7 of the NBA Finals. In that Championship Series the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame a 3-1 deficit in their best of seven games series against the Golden State Warriors, to win their first ever title. That victory came on June 19, 2016, which on that same day the Indians were in first place at 38-30, had a three game winning streak, but just a .5 game in front of the defending World Series Champs, the Kansas City Royals. But it seemed that the Cavs victory sparked the Indians to do something extra special for the city of Cleveland as they went on a winning streak, one that lasted until July 1, 2016, winning 14 straight games, improving their record to 49-30 and building their lead over the Royals to seven games.

Looking back it was ironic that the Cavs winning their first championship would propel the Indians to drive towards their first World Series Title in 68 years, which 1948 was the last Fall Classic that Cleveland played in. One sports franchise inspired another, even if they would probably never admit it, but the title drives did connect the both teams and their players.

And even if most would consider it just a coincidence, the Indians took the Cavs lead and just rolled through the rest of the season and straight to the postseason. They did experience a rough July where they played .500 ball (12-12), but recovered just in time for the stretch run finishing 16-14 in August and 18-11 in September and October combined.  Overall, they held on to first place for a majority of the season, only seeing it drop to as low as two games in mid-season, but held on to win their first AL Central Title since the 2007 season.

francisco-lindor

RON VESELY/MLB PHOTOS

There were many pluses besides making it to the World Series for this group, especially the emergence of Francisco Lindor who was a first time All-Star in 2016, then finished the season batting .301, with 99 runs scored, 15 home runs, 78 RBIs, and 19 stolen bases in just his second MLB season. And it wasn’t just the regular season, he also made a huge impact in the playoff’s batting .310, with two home runs and six RBI’s. At just 23 years old, Lindor will be a great player for many years to come.

There were many other players that stood out this season, but if I had to highlight a few I would start with Jason Kipnis, who was drafted by the Indians in 2009 and made his MLB debut in 2011, but enjoyed his most productive season in the majors this past summer batting .275, with 91 runs, 41 doubles, 23 home runs and 82 RBIs. In the World Series he became someone the Indians could count on when needed, as he batted .290, with six runs scored, three doubles, two home runs and four RBI’s.

Mike Napoli, who signed with Cleveland as a free agent last January, was also a shining light to Cleveland this season as he rewarded his new club by putting up career numbers in games played (150), at bats (557), runs (92), hits, (133), home runs (34), RBIs (101), and walks (78). And Carlos Santana, who was traded to the Tribe from the Los Angeles Dodgees in 2008 and made his MLB debut with Cleveland in 2010, batted .259, with 89 runs scored, 31 doubles, 34 home runs and 87 RBI’s in 2016. Both Napoli and Santana were big impacts to the lineup during the regular season, but when it came to the World Series, they just came up come short against a good Cubs pitching staff.

As for the Indians pitching staff, Corey Kluber, who will most likely win his second AL Cy Young award in three seasons, stood out with his bounce back season finishing 18-9, with a 3.14 ERA, after going 9-16 in 2015. In this years postseason, Kluber was 4-1, with a 1.83 ERA, but after winning Games 1 and 4 in the World Series, he was brought back on short rest again for Game 7.

The right hander just didn’t have enough in the tank to shut down the Cubs, as he tossed his lowest innings output in the playoffs, while givng up the most runs in his postseason (4, IP, 4 R). His performance in no way takes away from what he accomplished in 2016 or his previous five postseason starts. He was just a dominant force giving his team all he had, doing more than most would be able to do and puttig it all on the line for another great overall season.

The remaining staff also did their job to help the Indians get back to the top of their division and then a World Series appearance, something not many critics predicted would not happen.

The loss to the Cubs will sting for a while, but there is no reason for Indians players or their fans to hang their heads. They have so much to look forward to with a crop of young talented players mixed with seasoned veterans that should give them winning seasons for years to come.

Featured Photo: Corey Kluber by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos

David Conde

David Conde

Co-Founder/Executive Editor at Legends On Deck®
David is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Legends On Deck®. He was a Senior Editor for MetsMerizedOnline, MetsMinors.net and Contributor for Hardballchat.com. David along with John Ginder created Legends on Deck to be the site where passionate fans of the game have a place to read about their favorite baseball teams. The site was also created for people who had a talent to write or even take photographs and have the platform to share. The passion of following the Minor Leagues can be seen all over the site as the players journey's are what what drives the LOD team to share their content. David's passion is making available a site that people can have fun sharing and reading.

You can also reach out to David at daconde@legendsondeck.com
David Conde