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Year Founded: 1901
Division: American League Central
Home Stadium: Progressive Field
World Series Championships: 1920, 1948
American League Penants: 1920, 1948, 1954, 1995, 1997, 2016
Last Playoff Appearance: 2020
While the Cleveland MLB franchise has existed in Rock City since 1900, it will play as the Guardians for the first time in 2022. Last year's 80-82 record snapped an eight-year streak of finishing above .500. The Guardians figure to be right around that mark this season, with an outside shot at one of the American League wild card spots.
One losing record has seemingly made Cleveland an afterthought for much of the baseball world entering 2022. A cause for concern is the fact that the Guardians didn't acquire a single player likely to crack the Opening Day lineup or early season pitching rotation. That said, key starters Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac combined for just 41 starts last year, with both experiencing injuries. Bieber followed a dominant Cy Young year in 2019 with 16 starts last season that landed him a spot on the AL All-Star roster. He got hurt in June and only returned to pitch a pair of games at the end of the season. Plesac missed all of June but still won 10 games for the club. If those two can make 60+ starts, things will almost undoubtedly go much better for the Guardians.
Heading into Opening Day, Cleveland signed Jose Ramirez to a five-year, $124 million extension. He has been an underrated star for the organization and is the only player in the MLB to amass 300 extra-base hits and 100 stolen bases over the last five seasons. Ramirez made his third All-Star Game in 2021 and finished the season with 36 home runs and a .355 on-base percentage. Big designated hitter Franmil Reyes broke out in 2021 with 30 home runs and 85 RBI. His bat will be a critical one for a team that finished ninth in the AL in runs scored in 2021. If the starting pitching can keep Cleveland in the hunt until the All-Star Break, expect the Guardians to go after a bat or two to shore up the offense.
The American League Central could be one of the most interesting divisions in the Major Leagues this season. While several divisions consist mainly of teams that are obvious contenders and rebuilders, things are more gray in the AL Central. The White Sox are almost definitely a playoff team. After that, the Guardians, Twins, Tigers, and even the Royals are all poised to take a step towards a postseason appearance this year.
Cleveland follows a model used by many MLB teams that prices tickets higher when appealing opponents are in town. In other words, fans should expect to pay more when the Guardians host the Yankees than when they host the A's. Fans looking simply to enjoy a game at Progressive Field for the first time should seek out a "super value" game when a lesser opponent is visiting and great seats can be purchased at a much more affordable price. Regardless of the opponent, Infield Lower Box tickets are a great option. These seats are located on the first level just above a cross aisle that runs from foul pole to foul pole.
The Guardians have been one of the most consistently strong American League teams over the last few decades to not win the World Series. They have made the playoffs 12 times since 1995, with 10 division titles and three AL pennants in that stretch. Cleveland lost a pair of World Series clashes in the late 1990s with teams widely considered to have some of the best lineups in Major League History. A seven-game defeat to the Florida Marlins in 1999 was especially heartbreaking for the franchise.
Among the greatest players to make their mark in Cleveland are Lou Boudreau, Larry Doby, Bob Feller, Jim Thome, and Manny Ramirez. Rivals for the Guardians include the Tigers, Reds, and White Sox. The rivalry with Detroit has been the most passionate for fans, as it has frequently featured two competitive teams and carries over from college football's Michigan-Ohio State rivalry.
One interesting tidbit about the organization is that it had Bob Hope as a longtime part-owner. He grew up in Cleveland and had been a fan of the team since childhood. In one episode of "I Love Lucy," Lucy encounters Hope, playing himself, at an Indians game. Her shenanigans distracted Hope and caused him to get hit in the head with a foul ball.
Cleveland unveiled its new name on July 23, 2021. The announcement came after years of considering a change and an official announcement that the former name would be dropped in late 2020. The franchise was known as the Indians from 1915 to 2021. The reason identified for getting rid of the old moniker was that, along with the cartoon Chief Wahoo logo, it "perpetuated Native American stereotypes." The new name has been received with mixed reactions.
Last Updated: May 4, 2022
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