Major League Baseball’s 2018 World Series is approaching quickly. Every year, 30 teams in the United States of America and Canada compete in 162 games to decide who will play in the World Series. Ten teams can advance to the World Series and the favorites have already started to emerge before we even reach the All-Star break. Let’s take a look at these teams and their mental health to see which one has the mental edge.
The Cleveland Indians have been here before. Heading into the 2018 postseason as World Series contenders is becoming very familiar to Clevelanders, like Rock and Roll. They enjoyed a successful season in 2017 even though they lost the American League Division Series to the New York Yankees 3-2 despite leading the series 2-0.
Being contenders started five years ago in 2013 with major roster moves and the hiring of Terry Francona as the team’s manager to start the 2013 regular season. Francona would finish the season as the American League Manager of the Year and the Indians exited the postseason wild card game to the Tampa Bay Rays. The foundation was laid.
Every year, the Cleveland Indians have shown improvement resulting in winning regular seasons. In 2016, the team reached new heights by winning 16 consecutive games, a franchise record, and advanced to the World Series where they battled the Chicago Cubs. The Indians were leading the series 3-1 when the Cubs came back and won the World Series 4-3 in one of the greatest World Series in recent memory.
Last year, the Cleveland Indians reached new heights by winning 22 consecutive games, a new franchise record. Fans were disappointed when their team lost to the New York Yankees but the core of the team remained intact and they are contenders for the 2018 World Series.
In 2018, the Indians had the most representatives at the All-Star game including starting pitchers Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer along with Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, Jose Ramirez, and, Yan Gomes. Not to mention, the team also has former All-Stars like Andrew Miller and Edwin Encarnacion.
The Achilles heel for this team is their bullpen. Their ERA is the worst in the major league but there is hope.
The trio of Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, and Brad Hand have arrived.
Miller has returned from the 60-day disabled list and he seems fully healthy. It remains to be seen whether he can settle himself down in the next two months and regain his status as the greatest mid-reliever in the game.
Brad Hand is an arrival from the San Diego Padres. Brad is the closer and he already has a solid track record of saves in 2017 and 2018.
The 2018 Cleveland Indians measure up nicely to the New York Yankees. They are hard pressed by the starting rotations and bullpens of the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros.
However, there is one significant area where the Indians have the edge: the Dugout.
Terry Francona is a two-time World Series winner and a two-time winner of the Manager of the Year award. It is no coincidence that his arrival has sparked one of the most successful periods in the history of the Cleveland Indians franchise.
Former and current players rave about his management skills, his ability to communicate clearly, and his knowledge of his players. For example, Tito will give his players the recognition they deserve for sliding into bases, diving, hustling, or any other of the ‘little things’. He keeps the players focused on playing the game the right way instead of winning games, division titles, or the World Series. By doing so, players have their attention on the process and they may better control their decisions and their behaviors on the field.
Where the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have first-time managers in their dugouts, there is no doubt that Terry Francona can pull his ball club in the same direction at the same time.
Francona has struggled with teams that were ‘the favorite’ to win the World Series. In 2018, there are two other American League teams that have this dubious title and it will put Terry Francona and his Cleveland Indians in a familiar position – with a great opportunity to be special, as Tito puts it.
Photo: By Erik Drost – Francisco Lindor and Terry Francona, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66581193