FLB: Indians preview
If there were an "honorable mention" for best teams that don't qualify for the postseason, the 2005 Cleveland Indians would have gotten it. One of the season's most inspiring stories, the Indians charged to a 44-21 finish, nearly catching the eventual champion Chicago White Sox before falling a mere two games short of the postseason. Cleveland was actually in the wild card driver's seat with six days left in the regular season, and heading into the final day, had a chance to force a playoff with the Boston Red Sox for that spot. That's not a bad performance for a team with the majors' fifth-smallest payroll ($41.5 million). By comparison, the Detroit Tigers paid $69.1 million for 22 fewer victories.
Cleveland's cyclical approach to dynasty building seems to be paying off, as the rebuilding seeds planted from 2002-04 are finally beginning to bloom. It's a similar process to the one the team endured in the early 1990s, one which wound up earning the team six division titles and two American League titles in a seven-year period from 1995-2001.
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