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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cleveland Looks Set To Return to Series

NEW YORK -- It took the Cleveland Indians 41 long years to finally get back to the World Series. This time it may take only six months.


In 1995, the once-laughable Indians won 100 games in a 144-game season and did it with flair. Cleveland won 27 games in its final at-bat, including 10 with game-ending home runs. The Tribe overwhelmed Boston and Seattle in the playoffs.


So what happened in the Series?


Against Atlanta, the Indians were overanxious, confused and frustrated. So the Indians added former Cy Young winner Jack McDowell and first baseman Julio Franco.


Here's the American League team-by-team, in predicted order of finish:


East


Baltimore Orioles. After spending $45 million on free agents last year, owner Peter Angelos lured former Toronto GM Pat Gillick out of semi-retirement and added superb second baseman Roberto Alomar (.300, 66 RBIs).


Boston Red Sox. Mo Vaughn looks to repeat his MVP season during which he hit .300 with 39 homers and 126 RBIs. Jose Canseco (.306, 24 HR) may benefit from the addition of Kevin Mitchell, back from Japan.


New York Yankees. New York's first trip to the playoffs since 1981 and thrilling wild-card series apparently weren't enough for George Steinbrenner, who let manager Buck Showalter, captain Don Mattingly, utilityman Randy Velarde, catcher Mike Stanley and pitcher Jack McDowell flee.


But Steinbrenner did spend on pitchers David Cone and Kenny Rogers, first baseman Tino Martinez, outfielder Tim Raines and catcher Joe Girardi.


Joe Torre is the new manager.


Toronto Blue Jays. Joe Carter (.253, 25 HR) is one of just eight players left from the team that won Series titles in 1992-93. Toronto brought in free agents Otis Nixon (50 stolen bases), pitcher Erik Hanson (15-5, 4.24) and infielder Juan Samuel.


Detroit Tigers. New manager Buddy Bell and new GM Randy Smith begin to rebuild a team that won just 60 games last season. The Tigers may have trouble winning that many this year.


Central


Cleveland Indians. Albert Belle hit 50 homers in '95 and has said 62 homers are a possibility. He's also talked about Cleveland breaking the 1954 Indians' record of 111 victories this season.


Chicago White Sox. The White Sox committed 25 errors in their first 10 games last year and lost 19 of their first 30. Manager Terry Bevington vowed to improve the defense and has added center fielder Darren Lewis (32 steals) and right fielder Danny Tartabull.


Milwaukee Brewers. With a little more than a month left in the regular season, the Brewers were somehow still in the wild-card race in '95. Then came the collapse as Milwaukee lost 25 of its last 32 games.


Kansas City Royals. A second-place finish was a surprise last season. So was the team's decision to trade Wally Joyner and allow shortstop Greg Gagne and third baseman Gary Gaetti to bolt as free agents.


Minnesota Twins. As if things weren't bad enough for the Twins last year, the home season ended with Cleveland's Dennis Martinez breaking Kirby Puckett's jaw with a pitch.


Puckett (.314, 99 RBIs), now moved from center to right field, has fully recovered and is still one of the game's steadiest players at 35.


West


Seattle Mariners. When Ken Griffey Jr. crashed into the outfield wall last May and fractured his wrist, few could envision Junior and the Mariners' remarkable charge into the postseason.


Now, they're expected to get back, and having Griffey for a full season will make it much easier. The AL's best all-around player missed 72 games with the wrist injury, but he's fully recovered.


California Angels. The Angels led their division by 10 1/2 games on Aug. 15 before losing 27 of 38 games. California was able to win its last five games to force a one-game playoff with Seattle, then was trampled 9-1.


The Angels boast one of the game's best outfields in left fielder Garrett Anderson, center fielder Jim Edmonds and right fielder Tim Salmon. The three combined to hit .312 with 83 homers, 281 RBIs and 281 runs in 1995.


Texas Rangers. The Rangers hop this could be the year they reach the playoffs for the first time. Juan Gonzalez, plagued by back and neck problems last season, is reportedly lighter and not quite as muscular.


Oakland Athletics. Slugger Mark McGwire continues to struggle with injuries in spring training, a bad sign for an undermanned club.