The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Championship parade was today and all of Cleveland could finally let out a huge sigh of relief. The last Championship before? The 1964 pre-Super Bowl era Browns. Now that the drought is over, is it the Indians turn?
One look at the MLB standings and the Indians are in first place. They are two games in front of the Royals (the 2015 Champs) and four and a half ahead of the Tigers.
Everyone knew the Indians were going to be competitive this year but first place? It all starts with pitching. Their five man rotation featuring Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco all own ERAs south of 3.6. All arms in their rotation have kept the Indians in games. Their bullpen also has been relatively strong headlined by closer Cody Allen.
We all knew the Indians would have a competitive rotation but their hitting has been most surprising. Francisco Lindor, a growing piece of the golden era of shortstops, has had a monster year hitting .310 with a slugging percentage of .459. Oh, by the way, he’s 22.
But far and away their most surprising asset? The outfield. Most baseball sites had the Cleveland outfield sitting around a 5.4 WAR. Michael Brantley was half of that. Due to injuries, Brantley’s WAR might as well be 0. Guys like Jose Ramirez, Lonnie Chisenhall, Rajai Davis, Michael Martinez, and Tyler Naquin have all over-achieved and pushed the Indians into first place.
Over-achieving can be a slippery slope because you never know if the production will be sustained. But, for now, the Indians are tied for 5th in highest winning percentage.