Winning teams usually make a lot of good decisions before or during the course of a successful season, but some decisions have a greater effect on their year than others. Each team below is winning this season for a lot of reasons, but this piece focuses on a single decision or a group of related decisions that have put the clubs in playoff position and shaped the way their seasons have gone.
It's possible Cleveland flew too close to the sun this season as it tried to contend without making any meaningful additions to the team, but with rumors of a Bauer trade going all offseason, the team was wise to keep him. Bauer and Shane Bieber are the only Cleveland pitchers with more than 110 innings this season and Bauer's 24 starts and 156⅔ innings kept the team afloat and helped get them back in the race after a tough start. Then, with Cleveland's obvious outfield issues, the team moved Bauer for Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes, getting Puig for the stretch run and Reyes as a potential long-term contributor. Puig and Reyes haven't really gotten things going for Cleveland, but it was a wise decision to address the club's major holes in the lineup with Bauer after getting two-thirds of a season of needed quality innings.