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Roadmap for the Indians to Win American League Central
The American League Central has developed into a two-team race between the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians. The White Sox are currently the front runner in the division, but their lead is narrow. Chicago is 47-32 on the season compared to Cleveland at 42-35.
The four game gap between the two clubs can be cut with ease, but a few things need to occur for the Indians. The positive news is that the Indians control their own destiny to win the American League Central.
Win the Head-to-Head Series
Chicago has looked like a stronger team than Cleveland in 2021. Nevertheless, Cleveland is up 6-5 in the series between the two clubs thus far. In MLB, teams play 19 games against division opponents, so eight contests are remaining.
To win a division, you need to be your competitor straight up throughout the season. If Cleveland continues to show up against the White Sox, they will accomplish this goal.
Offensively, the White Sox have a significant advantage in average and OBP. These two statistics must improve for the Indians, but Cleveland has the edge in the home run category. Home runs help teams win games, and the Indians have hit 19 more bombs than the White Sox.
Defensively, the White Sox have a significant advantage in ERA, but this does not translate into victories. The teams have comparable opponent batting percentages. Most of the 11 head-to-head matchups have been close, so this trend will likely continue after the All-Star break.
Whoever wins the majority of the remaining games has an advantage in the American League Central because of the weak teams in the division.
Beat Up on Bad Teams
The American League Central is one of the worst divisions in baseball. Chicago and Cleveland are clearly the best AL Central teams in 2021. Since most games are played within a division, the Indians need to beat up on the bad teams.
Chicago was doing this at the beginning of the season, and they have slowed down. However, Cleveland is starting to become an authoritative team at the top of the standings. This is positive news for anyone hoping that the Indians will claim the American League Central pennant.
Also, the American League Central is paired with the National League Central for interleague games in 2021. The team still has some interleague games remaining that they must win. The National League Central is the worst division in the NL, so these games matter.
The important thing for the Indians is to win all winnable games. In the American League Central, every game is vital, so Cleveland cannot give away easy victories.
Mitch Haniger, Trey Mancini, or Some Offensive Weapon
The Indians need a piece at the deadline that can hit the baseball. Two likely options for the team are Mitch Haniger and Trey Mancini. It’s expected that both these players will be on the move. Haniger or Mancini would add some authority at the plate, and they are both reliable position players.
If the Indians grab a reputable bat and win against divisional opponents, they will be the American League Central champions in 2021.
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