During his 22-year Hall of Fame career, no one will doubt that Jim Thome's greatest moments came as a member of those legendary late-1990s Indians teams, including the man himself.
From 1994-2001, the Tribe won six American League Central Division titles and played in two World Series. Thome, for his part, made three All-Star teams and averaged 34 home runs a year during that stretch.
The Indians of today are doing their best to match that high standard of success, with an AL pennant in 2016 followed by a 102-win season last year. Thome believes this current bunch compares favorably to those great 90s clubs, and said as much during a sit-down Friday at Playhouse Square in Cleveland.
"This club is so unique and special, as well," Thome said. "Obviously the pitching...they've got such a great bullpen, and a year ago, they were a great offensive team."
Of course, the current offense will likely never stack up to that late 90s lineup, which was so deep that Thome himself often hit near the bottom of the lineup. Unfortunately, Thome also implied that the 2017 Indians may have peaked a little too early during their 22-game winning streak, as the team eventually lost in the ALDS to the New York Yankees.
"This happened to us a few times," he said, likely referring to his teams' early playoff exits in 1996, '99, and 2001. "Ultimately, you've got to play the whole season out....At the end of it all, you want to be playing your best at the end of the season, leading to and then having that carry over [into the postseason]."
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Still, Thome and the Indians were blessed enough to go on some deep playoff runs during that time, although they could never finish it off by winning the World Series. However, the Tribe's all-time home run leader doesn't think Cleveland fans will have to wait long for a championship.
"I really believe that the city is going to experience a World Series, and it's going to happen quicker than most people think," he said. "When you look at, top to bottom, what their starting pitching brings to the table...when you have a guy that's a Cy Young winner [in Corey Kluber], when he's your leader, and all those guys probably follow how he works, it's very special."