Nobody has talked about the collapse of the Cleveland Indians against the New York Yankees since late October.
Last season was filled with so much potential and it all crumbled right in front of their eyes. The 2017 ALDS featured horrendous slumps from Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. In the ALDS, Lindor batted an uncharacteristic .111 in five games and Ramirez posted an embarrassing .100. Their performances were eye-opening and not much was made about it due to the slump that poster child Aaron Judge faced.
Playing in a putrid division gives the other teams around the league an unclear vision on what the ceiling of this Indians team is. Cleveland has soared against their division which hasn’t been a tall task due to the Indians being the only team above .500 in the American League Central. There is a lot of mystery with this roster and the legitimacy of the team will be tested.
One thing is for sure and that’s Lindor and Ramirez are bonafide superstars. Last season we saw Ramirez enter MVP talks late in the season and he actually finished third in voting behind Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge. Ramirez is doing things this season that haven’t been done in years. Sunday afternoon he posted the first 30-30 season, 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases, since 2012. Ramirez was named Player of the Month for July but slowed down a little in the month of August.
This season, however, Fransisco has also found his name among consideration for AL MVP. Lindor has had a jaw-dropping campaign so far in 2018 as he has led the league in runs scored, 117. Lindor has sent 37 balls to the cheap seats and has driven in 84 runs, which is impressive considering out of his 581 at-bats, only 19 of them have been at places other than first in the batting order. Lindor has hit six lead-off home runs this season, one short of the club record set by Grady Sizemore 2008.
While both Fransisco and Jose have been playing out of this world and their play can easily be attributed to the team’s success, you’d find it hard to give either of them MVP with the play of J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts or Khris Davis. Martinez is currently chasing a triple crown and is leading the league in RBI and is second in batting average and home runs. Khris Davis has found a way to channel his inner power and has mashed a league-leading 41 home runs. Mookie Betts has hit the cover off the ball and has a season average of .341 and also has a realistic chance of joining Jose Ramirez in the 30-30 club.
While this isn’t entirely factual and you can’t completely prove this, it seems as if the bulk of the top talent in the league has been concentrated in the American League, with the exception of a couple players in the National League. Let’s say that Jose Ramirez played for the Philadelphia Phillies, disgusting right? If he played for the Phillies, him winning the NL MVP wouldn’t even be a discussion. Ramirez as an NL player would lead in home runs and be second in RBI and stolen bases and would be third in runs scored.
The biggest thing that worries fans is Jose Ramirez repeating his postseason struggles. Ramirez struggled in 2016 against the Toronto Blue Jays; he went 1-16 but was ultimately bailed out by the pitching. Ramirez has alternated bad series’ so we can expect an outstanding opening series but his inconsistency will ultimately kill the Indians. The success of the Indians hinders on the play from Jose Ramirez and if he shows up, Cleveland will be hoisting the trophy.
If the Indians were to make the World Season this year, it could be argued that Jose and Frankie would be the best hitters in the series no matter the opponent. A world series against the Cubs would bring Javier Baez into the discussion. Baez has cranked 30 homers and has driven in 100 runs. Maybe the Indians play the Dodgers in the World Series and Manny Machado comes to town? Machado hasn’t been in the MVP discussion, but his bat is amongst the top of the league. The Indians top competition would be the Boston Red Sox who are currently 97-46.
You could argue that every series can feature something different and maybe Jose and Frankie collapse again. Maybe the Indians play the Cubs in the World Series and David Bote hits seven home runs in the series and drives in 20 runs. Anything could happen.
Cleveland’s dynamic duo won’t win the regular season MVP, but they will be setting their sights on the World Series MVP soon enough.