Indians are standard bearers of AL Central

Anthony Joki is the Owner/Editor-in-Chief of Forever Rebuilding and is one half of the 1085 Gridiron Podcast covering all things Browns.

Late last night, the Detroit Tigers traded Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros. Earlier in the day, they traded Justin Upton to the Los Angeles Angels. The Tigers are now in rebuild mode.

They now join the Kansas City Royals. While the Royals did not trade their pieces away in hopes to make a playoff push, they have multiple free agents at the end of the season. Melky Cabrera, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Jason Vargas all hit the open market this winter.

The Royals ownership is to be commended for what their decision this season to reach for the playoffs. After winning the World Series in 2015, reaching it for the consecutive year, ownership gave their fans one last shot at the postseason. Their fate is now similar to the Cleveland Indians after the 2001 season.

2001 was the last season the Indians championship window was open. Unfortunately for the Tribe, they were not able to accomplish a championship in their window from 1995-2001. The Royals however were able to. The trials that are next for the franchise will sit well for the fan base because of their World Championship.

After a disappointing 2016 season, the Chicago White Sox are already into their rebuilding process. Last offseason they traded Chris Sale and Adam Eaton. During this season, they traded away Jose Quintana, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera and Todd Frazier.

The White Sox have plenty of young talent on their roster that is currently developing. Matt Davidson has had a tremendous rookie season hitting .236 with 23 home runs and 55 RBIs so far. While the production is not there, the talent that Yoan Moncada has is undeniable. Their top pitching prospect, Lucas Giolito, made his season debut on August 22nd. He got his first Major League win on the 27th.

Going into the season, many thought that the Minnesota Twins were a year away. The Twins lost 103 games in 2016. They experienced a lot of growing pains, growing pains that are next for the Tigers and Royals. This season, they have been competitive to the shock of many around baseball. While they have been competitive, they are nowhere near on the level of the reigning American League Champions.

The Indians have a great mix of young talent and players under contract for the next few seasons. If anyone in the American League Central wants to compete over the next few seasons, they have to go through the Indians. This has not happened since the 90s. The Indians are in the middle of a similar run.

At this point in time, the Tribe are 6.5 games ahead of the Twins. They are going to win the AL Central for the second consecutive year. They will be the favorites in the central for at least the next four seasons too.

As mentioned, the Indians have a nice mix of young talent and today being September 1st, rosters expand. Top prospects Francisco Mejia and Greg Allen will both join the team for today’s double header against the Tigers. Mejia began the season at Double-A Akron and has put up a .297/.346/.490 slash line with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs.

Greg Allen started out the 2016 season at Single-A Lynchburg and finished the season at Double-A Akron, where he has been all of 2017. Allen, a 6th round pick in 2014, While Allen won’t tear the cover off the ball with power, he will get on base at a good rate and is a threat on the base paths. Oh, he is quite the defender too. He received a Gold Glove award for his work in Lynchburg and Akron last season.

Allen and Mejia will get a cup of coffee with the Tribe for the remainder of the season and with the double header today, I would expect both of them to make their debuts. While Mejia may be with the team coming out of Spring Training next year, Allen may require more time in the minors.

As the Indians open their four game series with Detroit, they are just 3.5 games behind the Houston Astros for the best record in the American League. The Tribe is one game ahead of the Red Sox. In the month of September, you can argue the Tribe has an easy schedule. They only have nine games against teams with a .500 record or better. This should allow them to compete for home field advantage in the playoffs. Their magic number to clinch the division is 24.

The Cleveland Indians will be playing in October again. This time, let’s finish the deal.