The Indians' 13-Game Win Streak Has Them in the World Series Discussion
It feels like it was just yesterday that the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship. In fact, it's been just nine days since LeBron James and company paraded around The Land celebrating their sweet victory, a victory that signified the end of a championship drought that lasted more than 50 years.
However, for most Cleveland sports fans, the fun will be over in 72 days. That's when the Cleveland Browns' new season begins and the Super Bowl drought continues.
But, maybe -- clouded by the stink that has been the Browns -- Cleveland's overlooking its now most hungry sports team, the Cleveland Indians.
It's now been 19 years since the Indians have made a World Series appearance and nearly 50 more since they've reigned champion of the October classic.
It's time to stop your partying, wake back up, and grab some coffee, Cleveland! The Indians are for real.
Since June 17th, the Indians haven't lost a single game and are 13-0 with an average margin of victory of 4.15 runs per game. That would suggest that they've been dominant throughout the last two weeks, which isn't exactly true.
Of their 13 straight victories, the Indians have won two in walk-off fashion and another two by a mere two runs. But, the key to any unbeaten stretch -- especially so in baseball -- is getting the job done as a team. And that's precisely what Terry Francona and his bunch have done.
That's how this streak was born. As time has progressed, that's how it has survived as well.
What you see below is a chart indicating the starting pitcher and hitters' Win Probability Added (WPA) (according to FanGraphs) for each of the 12 wins.
|Win Number||Starting Pitcher WPA||Hitters WPA|
As you can tell, in the two games in which the starting pitcher actually took away -- albeit ever so slightly -- from his club's probability of winning the game, the bats did more than pick up the slack, adding over 50% win expectancy in each of those contests.
On the offensive side, the only game in which the Indians' bats failed to contribute positively to the win probability of the contest was in a 3-2 walk-off win against the White Sox back on June 19th.
Other than those three instances, the Indians have gotten positive contributions from both their starting pitcher and lineup in 10 of the 13 games.
Where has this total team effort gotten them?
In short, this streak has taken the Indians to new heights.
Since our last power rankings update back on June 6th, the Indians have gone 17-6 and now sit at 48-30 on the year -- behind only two teams in terms of the win column.
As a result of their outstanding play, the Tribe has also added 0.32 to their nERD -- which represents a team's expected run differential per game -- bringing it to a total of 1.27, second only in the Majors to the Chicago Cubs' mark of 2.26.
And it may be early, but our algorithms favor Cleveland, at 84.0%, to win the American League Central and possibly compete for a World Series title (of which we give them a 14.1% chance of winning).
The overall numbers prove that this streak is not a fluke. The Indians are a very balanced baseball team, and they might just avoid a new drought in Cleveland before it even starts.