Cleveland Indians will get their chance to return to World Series in 2017

CLEVELAND, Ohio – It can happen. A team can return to the World Series in consecutive years and several have in recent seasons.

The Royals did it in 2014 and 2015, losing in seven games to the Giants in 2014 and beating the Mets in five games the next year.

Texas did it in 2010 and 2011. Unfortunately, the Rangers lost each time. They fell to Bruce Bochy and San Francisco Giants in 2010 and St. Louis in seven games in 2011.

Charlie Manuel’s Phillies did it as well. They beat the Rays in 2008 only to lose to the Yankees the following year.

The Yankees had the best recent run, appearing in four straight World Series from 1998 through 2001. They won three.

The Indians have appeared in six World Series, but never consecutively. The closest they came was in 1995 and 1997. They lost to Atlanta in six games and the Marlins in seven games.

Can the Indians do it? Can they make it to the Fall Classic two years in a row? And this time around, finally, get it right?

They certainly have the talent, but talent isn’t enough. When it comes to making my prediction on the Tribe for 2017 all I’m going to say is that they’ll have a chance. I think they’ll win the AL Central for the second straight year by going 90-72 this year. By winning the Central that will give them a chance to reach the World Series and atone for last year’s loss to the Cubs in seven games.

The Indians are built to win. Their starting rotation, with a bit of a question mark hovering around Carlos Carrasco and his right elbow, is healthy. The bullpen looks solid although we haven’t seen a lot of Andrew Miller because of his tour with the World Baseball Classic. Offensively, the chances of Michael Brantley hitting in front of Edwin Encarnacion on opening day are improving daily. The absence of second baseman Jason Kipnis to start the season will hurt, but the Indians should be able to handle that as long as Kipnis’ right shoulder injury doesn’t keep him out of the season for a long period of time.

If a need arises, ownership and the front office — based on their actions last year and during the off-season — are willing to part with cash and prospects to help correct any weakness.

This is a team pointed in the right direction. All they need is a chance. That will come when they win the AL Central.