YES, THIS ISN'T the first time SI has picked the Cleveland Indians to break a World Series drought that dates to 1948. We did it in 1987, when our Baseball Preview cover featured sluggers Cory Snyder and Joe Carter standing in front of a regrettably large image of Chief Wahoo and to the right of a regrettable cover line (INDIAN UPRISING). "Believe It!" the cover text read. "Cleveland Is the Best Team in the American League."
Snyder and Carter produced as anticipated—Snyder smashed 33 home runs and Carter became the seventh member of the 30-30 club—but we failed to predict that the rotation, which included a 48-year-old Phil Niekro and a 42-year-old Steve Carlton, would be historically inept. Its 5.37 ERA was the league's worst in more than three decades, and the club lost an MLB-high 101 games. The cringeworthy cover would become one of the prosecution's top exhibits in the case of The People v. the SI Jinx. Whoops.
Guess what? We're picking the Tribe again. The offense is loaded once more behind in-their-prime (if underappreciated) stars like MVP candidate Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and newly imported slugger Brandon Moss. This time, though, led by reigning Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, they have the pitching staff to match—we're sure of it. After last year's All-Star break the rotation led the majors in strikeout rate (9.33 per nine), home run rate (0.56 per nine) and FanGraphs' WAR (11.0), while trailing only the Nationals in ERA (2.95). And none of its members, which also include Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar, are yet 29. In an era in which it seems most everyone has a shot at a ring, the Indians will win their first in 67 years. Believe it.
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LANE STEWART/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (COVER)