For the third straight year, the Cleveland Steamers have marched through the American League playoffs like a team with something to prove. Of course, Cleveland entered the season as the reigning Cobb champion. But to truly be considered great in Cobb one title is not enough: you must be dynastic. The Cleveland players are determined, perhaps obsessed, to prove they belong among the greatest teams of all time. This determination gives them an edge, and makes them a dangerous opponent.
How they got here: The Steamers were the #4 seed, and swept the Florida Almendares (#5), the Louisville Dogs (#1) and the Tacoma Jerry Gang (#2).
Cleveland Steamers Positional Analysis
Who is Hot:
Pitchers: Cleveland’s bullpen. The Steamers ace bullpen arms-- Charles Gold (.143/.143/ .190), Trevor Seelbach (.132/ .193/ .151) and Bruce Weber (.174/.174/.348)-- have shredded opposing line-ups this postseason. If Cleveland’s offense can establish even a slight lead, it will be nearly impossible for Omaha to mount any kind of comeback.
Hitters: Lyle Crudale(.395/.478/.868) has been a one-man wrecking crew, launching 5 home runs in Cleveland’s 10 playoff games.
Former Omaha 3B Albert Burnett bashed 36 HR for Cleveland in the regular season. He has managed a mere .350 slugging in the playoffs. 2B Jose Ganadarillas may miss some time with an injury to start the World Series.
Key Match-up: Walter Maroth v. Grant Keats. The Steamers and the Sluggers are, on paper, very evenly matched teams. As a result, this Series will be decided by who can do the little things right. Important to the Steamers success will be stopping Keats and the Sluggers’ running game. With both club's pitching unlikely to yield much scoring, the runners who do reach base are going to be aggressive. Although he has the reputation of being a superb defender behind the plate, Maroth stopped only 14 of 105 basestealers this past season. He also allowed an uncharacteristic 20 passed balls, something else that advances runners unnecessarily.
Why Cleveland will win: Cleveland’s bullpen has been red hot this offseason. The top of their rotation is almost unhittable. They are getting some offense from every position except C and SS where they instead have above average defenders. Right now, their line-up is dismantling pitching staffs. This is top to bottom an excellent team, and is also a team determined to establish itself as a dynasty. Cleveland in 5.
What they are saying:
Albert Hill: “I haven’t been around the league all that long and I know you have to respect a veteran club like Omaha. I just think people should give us more respect for our accomplishments.”
Lonny Boyd: “Too many people let their problems with the GM 's strategy affect their opinion of us. What happens in the front office happens there, what happens on the field happens here, you know? Did they hate Barry Larkin too?“
“There’s a reason they’re called the tools of ignorance: I can’t let my at bats affect my pitch calling. I can't think about free agency. My team needs me out there. ” Walter Maroth on keeping perspective during a batting slump.
“If they win, I’ll name a new ravioli after them.” Cleveland native and long time Steamers season ticket holder Chef Boyardee.