Thinking of the Cleveland Indians as World Series contenders is a bit of a stretch in 2021.
But can it happen?
Anything is possible if you can just get into the MLB playoffs.
MLB.com writers Mike Petriello and Will Leitch recently went through the entire league and ranked World Series favorites from 1-30.
The Los Angeles showed up atop the list and the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates came in the No. 30 spot.
The Indians finished right in the middle at No. 15.
Not great, but not entirely ruled out of the race either.
MLB futures odds (thread) 📊
+850: White Sox
+1000: Braves, Mets
+2200: Athletics, Blue Jays
+2500: Astros, Cardinals, Rays
+3300: Reds, Nationals
+4000: Cubs, Indians, Phillieshttps://t.co/LEFNIYjiqt pic.twitter.com/1iRpmmEUV1
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) February 17, 2021
World Series Chances in 2021
The Indians had a true title window from 2016-2020.
Trading Francisco Lindor has seemingly ushered in a new era of Indians baseball that will feature younger talent getting a chance to shine all over the roster.
Several young players emerging as stars, like Lindor once did, could lead to a surprise season for the team this year.
That is why it is so easy to put the Indians right in the middle.
But a more positive scenario sees the Indians at least competing for a playoff spot.
A down year by the Chicago White Sox could open up the race even more if the Indians can keep pace with the Minnesota Twins.
If everyone can stay healthy and a few young players develop fast, there is no reason to rule out the Indians from making it into the postseason.
Getting So Close Before
It is incredibly frustrating for fans to reflect on how close the Indians were to ending the World Series drought back in 2016.
One could even argue the roster was better in 2017, only to fall in the ALDS after taking a 2-0 series lead over the New York Yankees.
Then came an ALDS sweep in 2018 followed by outright missing the playoffs in 2019.
The 2020 season came to a disappointing close as the postseason losing streak continued and it felt like that true window of contention had closed.
But it is possible another one opens like it did in 2016 when 94 wins was enough to win the division.
WE ARE WORLD SERIES BOUND ⚾
— FOX Sports Cleveland (@FOXSportsCLE) May 3, 2020
This is also a team where winning only around 70-75 games wouldn’t be a shock either given all the question marks on the roster.
In the past the Indians have crumbled when expectations were high.
That is why 2016 was so special.
The title run seemingly came out of nowhere.
Now fans will be hoping the same can be true about the 2021 Indians.
Having low expectations and just playing free can result in great things.