Cleveland Guardians’ season overview, divisional title, and playoff takeaways

Cleveland Guardians season overview, divisional title, and playoff takeaways

Ella Garrett

On September 25, 2022, Cleveland Guardians fans around the city cheered and celebrated as their baseball team clinched the American League Central title and the No. 3 seed in the American League. The Guardians, as the youngest team in the MLB, played an impeccable season to end with a final record of 92-70. 

The Guardians edged out the Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, and Detroit Tigers to claim divisional fame. Under the leadership of manager Terry Francona, they achieved the 3rd highest spot in the AL, only behind the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees. 

But, the Yankees proved to be tough competition for the Guardians. Cleveland lost the series 3-2 after starting out strong. The biggest highlight of the series was Oscar Gonzalez’s walk-off two-run single into the center field gap at Progressive Field. That hit propelled the Guardians to a 2-1 series lead over the Yankees, but sadly, they couldn’t sustain it.

After the Yankees won the next game, the series moved into an intense winner-take-all game 5 at Yankee Stadium. In that game, Aaron Civale gave up a 3-run home run to Josh Donaldson on only one out: a strikeout for Aaron Judge. He was pulled from the game, but the Guardians ultimately did not have the strength to battle back.

To drive the team towards success, many athletes on the Guardians played a large role during the season. Statistic reports from show that all-star 3rd baseman Jose Ramirez smashed 29 home runs in the regular season. His batting average was only the 5th highest among starters, though, at .280, while his teammate, and youngest starter on the team, Andres Gimenez owned the highest average at .297. 

Although Guardians shortstop Amed Rosario had 180 base hits and 9 triples, Ramirez achieved 44 doubles, 126 RBIs, and 29 home runs. Steven Kwan also made his way into the rankings, as his on-base percentage was higher than any other starter, at .373.

On the pitching side, starting pitcher Cal Quantrill had the highest win/loss percentage, at .750, while fellow starter Shane Bieber earned the lowest ERA, only letting an average of 2.88 runs scored during his time on the mound. Additionally, Bieber pitched one complete game against the White Sox in July.

Other players who contributed to the Guardians’ success include Josh Naylor, a stellar first baseman, who saved many games with late-inning hits throughout the season. Kwan even set an MLB record at the beginning of the season by getting on base 19 times in his first 6 games. He is also a potential candidate for the honor of being crowned the American League Rookie of the Year for his gameplay.

Mayfield Middle School 8th grade math teacher Matthew Duraj also believes Kwan was a standout player. “Steven Kwan made many good plays in the outfield. He’s really jumping out to me,” he commented.

When asked about what his take on Cleveland’s season was, Duraj said that the team “overperformed” from where experts predicted they would be. He also added that they were “fun to watch,” and that he is also impressed by the fact that “they don’t give up.”

As far as the playoffs go, a quote from WKYC regarding the playoffs said, “With the Houston Astros and New York Yankees having already secured the top two seeds in the American League, Cleveland is locked into the No. 3 seed of the playoffs.” (This quote was stated before the playoffs began)

Other teams in the American League that qualified for the playoffs include the Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners, as well as Cleveland’s wild card opponent, the Tampa Bay Rays. 

In the wild card matchup, the Guardians knocked out the Rays in the first two days of a best-of-three series.

In those games, the Guardians earned the opportunity to host the series at Progressive Field. The series began on October 7th and ended only a day after. The first pitch of the playoffs was thrown across the plate by Cleveland’s own Shane Bieber at 12:09 pm that day. Many players shined during the game and helped drive the team towards a 2-1 win over the Rays. 

Game two of the series proved to be a thriller. The score was tied at 0 for all 9 innings, so the game turned into an extra innings battle to decide a victor. The score stayed the same until the bottom of the 15th inning when rookie player Oscar Gonzalez smashed a lead-off home run to earn a point, and the final score was 1-0 Cleveland.  The matchup for the game was tough, with both teams keeping up a strong defense and getting on base multiple times. 

Cleveland then moved on to the ALDS, where they did indeed lose to the New York Yankees. The Yankees, although they went through a hard slump, remained on top and are the No. 2 seed in the American League. The Guardians had to battle the hard-hitting team led by home run phenom Aaron Judge. Judge made contact with and sent 62 balls out of the park in the regular season alone. He, along with the Yankees, were a strong obstacle standing in the way of the Guardians. 

Matthew Duraj was also asked about how far he believed the team would go before the playoffs began. He predicted, “Optimistically, I would love them to win the whole thing. But, realistically, I do think it will be tough to get past the Yankees.” His opinion reflected the opinions of many other Guardians fans in the area, but they knew anything could happen. 

All in all, many things drove Cleveland’s baseball team to success. Duraj mentioned that he believes the Guardians’ regular season success was driven by Jose Ramirez’s extension signing in the offseason, and the overall fact that Terry Francona was the manager. 

The Guardians are a young and memorable team, and many fans are excited to see where they end up in the future.