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Cleveland Rearmed, Retooled for Another Deep Postseason Run

After jumping out to a 3-1 series lead against the Chicago Cubs, the Cleveland Indians looked poised to win their first World Series since 1948. The rest, as they say, is history but Cleveland is rearmed, retooled and reloaded and looks like an excellent bet to avenge the disappointment of 2016.

Looking back, it was a bit of a surprise that the Indians had the run they did in the postseason without the services of stud right-handers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar down the stretch. The latter pitched a few innings in the World Series but was hampered by that forearm strain while Carrasco missed all of October with a fractured pinkie.

Looking ahead, however, the pitching staff is one of the best that baseball has to offer and is set to dominate 2017. Corey Kluber took his game to unseen levels in the postseason, recording a 1.83 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 34 1/3 innings of playoff mastery and Andrew Miller was making opponents look silly with a slider that was seemingly acquired at the same crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul.

All this, plus the addition of masher Edwin Encarnacion and the rise of the sensational Francisco Lindor, make the Indians one of the favorites to win just about everything in 2017.

Speaking of which, here’s a look at their futures odds for the upcoming MLB season.

World Series +800

Cleveland is third on the board at online shop Bovada and in my estimation, this price is very attractive for mid-March. The team refined its postseason chops with the deep run in 2016, which included a dominant sweep of the Boston Red Sox – who are co-faves with the Cubs at +450 – in the ALDS.

Considering what they did last fall without the services of two of the better starting pitchers, +800 feels like something worth jumping on ASAP.

American League Pennant +350

Now, I’m no Red Smith, but I can tell you with complete certainty that you don’t win the World Series without winning the pennant and if I’m so confident in backing the Tribe to win the World Series, then this one you can certainly take to the bank.

Another promising detail regarding the prospect of Cleveland posting back-to-back pennants is that it hasn’t been so uncommon recently. The Kansas City Royals did it in 2014 and 2015 and the Texas Rangers did it not too long before them in 2010 and 2011.

The Red Sox will certainly be a worthy challenger as will the Houston Astros, who come in behind Cleveland at +650. But don’t be surprised to see, at the very least, another appearance in the Fall Classic.

AL Central -400

Not as much value here, obviously, so not really worth a bet with the price of the World Series and AL pennant sitting out there.

The fine folks at FanGraphs predict the Indians to win the division by 11 games with Cleveland winning 92 games and the Detroit Tigers finishing second in the division with 81 wins. None of the Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins or Chicago White Sox should even register a blip on Cleveland’s radar in this division.

OVER/UNDER win total 92.5

Cleveland won 94 games last season and I expect a mark around that number again this season so a wager on the OVER (which is currently at -115) is certainly worth a shot.

For a bit of context by using the last two teams to win back-to-back American League pennants, the Royals posted six more wins in their second pennant-winning season while the Rangers also won six more games from 2010 to 2011 in the back-to-back World Series appearances.

Is this the magic number here? That I cannot say. I can say that I like the Tribe to eclipse this number en route to another World Series appearance.

Francisco Lindor to Win AL MVP +1600

Lindor’s status reached star level thanks to a great performance on the national stage of the World Series. But he’s been a dynamite player since his rookie campaign in 2015.

The silky shortstop has posted WARs of 4.5 and 6.3 (according to FanGraphs) in his two big-league campaigns so it’s a safe bet that that number increases this season. It’s always going to be a tough ask to win the MVP when you’re in the same league as Mike Trout, but at this price, Lindor is certainly worth a bet.

Lindor gives you a bit of everything: he gets on base, he hits for average, he can go yard, he’ll steal a bag, but he really shines with the glove. He’s a complete player who, at just 23 years old, is poised to become one of the best that Major League Baseball has to offer. It’s just a matter of time for this guy.

2017 Cleveland Indians Futures Odds
MarketOdds
World Series+800
American League Pennant+350
American League Central-400
Win Totals 92.5

Odds as of March 16 at Bovada

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