Streak has ended, but Indians' AL Central reign continues

Austin Jackson and Francisco Lindor had reason to celebrate Saturday: another AL Central title. Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

One night after their 22-game winning streak ended, the Cleveland Indians returned to their winning ways, beating the Kansas City Royals 8-4. The Indians’ win combined with the Twins’ loss to the Blue Jays clinched the American League Central Division championship for Cleveland.

Stats & Info looks at some of the keys to the Indians’ season.

Career-best year for Ramirez, contributions from newcomer

Jose Ramirez entered play Saturday fourth in the American League in offensive wins above replacement (5.5), behind Jose Altuve, Mike Trout and Aaron Judge.

Ramirez has established career highs this season in doubles (50), triples (six), home runs (27) and walks (45), and he’s one run batted in from his career high of 76 set last year.

Edwin Encarnacion signed with the Indians from the Blue Jays during the offseason, and the designated hitter has provided the power the team was looking for. He hit his 35th home run Saturday. He is the only player in the majors with at least 30 home runs each of the last six seasons.

Encarnacion ranks fourth on the team in offensive WAR with 2.5, behind Ramirez, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana.

As a team, the Indians have the majors’ second-best OPS (.791). Their walks percentage of 9.8 percent ranks third, and their chase percentage is second in the majors.

Opponents can’t touch Indians pitchers

Indians pitchers average 9.99 strikeouts per nine innings. No team in baseball’s modern era (since 1900) has averaged 10 strikeouts per nine innings. Cleveland’s strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.9 is on pace to be the best in the modern era.

In Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, the Indians have two of the majors’ top four in fielding independent pitching, a stat that measures a pitcher based on strikeouts, walks, hit-by-pitches and home runs.

Kluber, Carrasco and Trevor Bauer all have 16 wins. Elias Sports Bureau research shows that the last time the Indians had three pitchers with 16 wins in a season was 1956, with Herb Score (20–9), Early Wynn (20–9) and Bob Lemon (20–14).

During the 22-game winning streak, pitchers in the Indians’ rotation recorded 19 wins and had a 1.77 ERA.

The streak

The Indians’ 22-game win streak is the second longest in major league history behind the 1916 New York Giants’ 26-game win streak. Cleveland hit 41 home runs, which is greater than the number of runs (37) it allowed in those 22 games. Elias research shows that the Indians are the only team with a winning streak of at least 15 games that had more home runs than runs allowed during the streak.

Twelve Indians players drove in at least five runs and six players had at least 10 RBIs, led by Lindor’s 20.

Lindor’s consistency has outlasted the streak: On Saturday, he extended his streak of games with at least one extra-base hit to 10 games. He is the first shortstop in the modern era with an extra-base hit in 10 straight games (source: Elias).

The Indians outscored their opponents 69-14 in the first three innings during the streak. That works out to a 2.5-run advantage, the best differential in the majors over that span.

All of the elements have combined to give the Indians the best record in the AL (92-57) and their second consecutive AL Central title.