The Cleveland Indians came into the 2012 season with a lot of different expectations. They were expected to have solid pitching and a sluggish offense. Their infield defense was thought to be a strength and the team's overall power potential was in question.
However, as with every new MLB season, surprising things have happened and not everything has gone according to plan. Such is the beauty of the sport of baseball. One never knows what will happen next.
Here are five surprising stats that the Tribe put up through the first 10 games of this young season.
One of the main concerns of Tribe fans everywhere was the lineup's apparent lack of power. When nothing major was done to address this issue in the offseason, it was a common belief that the Indians would struggle to hit the ball out of the park. This lack of power would have hurt the offense's overall run production.
However, the Indians got off to a fast start in the home run department, homering in the first nine games of the season.That was tied for the second longest season-opening streak in franchise history, dating back to 1918.
Even more surprising is the fact that they are currently fourth in the entire major leagues in home runs with 16 and they have accomplished that number in only 10 games which is the fewest played by any team.
While unexpected, Tribe fans are not complaining about the team averaging 1.6 home runs per game which is third in all of baseball. Hopefully the power surge continues deep into the season for the Indians.
While the amount of home runs that the Tribe has hit so far this season is impressive, what's more impressive is the amount of times an Indians player has crossed home plate. Scoring runs was expected to be difficult for the players on the roster.
However, that has not been the case. At least it hasn't been the case in the past few games. The Tribe did struggle to score runs in the first two series of the season, but started to shows signs that their bats were heating up as they traveled to Kansas City for a three-game series.
By the time the dust settled in Kauffman Stadium, the Tribe had scored 32 runs in the series and swept the Royals. That massive explosion of runs propelled the Indians straight towards the top of the majors in runs scored.
They currently are number four in the big leagues in runs scored with 62. They are also first in the MLB in runs per game by averaging 6.2 a game. If the Indians can maintain any semblance of that potent offense, they will make life much easier for themselves in the race for the American League Central crown.
A major problem that has plagued the Indians for the past several seasons has been their high strikeout rate and their low number of walks. This problem was made a focus of manager Manny Acta in this past offseason and spring training.
That focus on the problem seems to be paying off as the Tribe is striking out a lot less this season while taking free passes a lot more.
A year ago, the Indians finished the season ranked fifth in the major leagues in strikeouts with 1,269 while ranking 17th in walks with 494.
However, they have been doing a lot better in those two departments through the first 10 games of this season. They are currently 25th in all of baseball in strikeouts with only 76 and third in walks with 53. The additional walks are a product of Tribe batters waiting for a good pitch to hit during every at-bat. They are seeing a lot of pitches which leads to a lot of walks.
It will be interesting to see if the Indians can continue to trend in this direction with walks and strikeouts throughout the 2012 season.
With the signing of Casey Kotchman, the Indians were expected to be one of the better defensive teams in the American League. Kotchman is a player known more for his glove than for his bat and the same goes for Tribe third baseman Jack Hannahan.
With potential gold glove players at the corners and solid defensive players up the middle in Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis, it is certainly surprising that the Indians already have seven errors on the season.
While that is not a ton of errors for an entire team, those seven errors are all courtesy of the infield. Even more shocking is that four of those seven errors belong to Jack Hannahan. Hannahan had a total of five errors all of last season.
The other three errors belong to Casey Kotchman, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Jason Donald.
It will be important for the Tribe to limit its amount of errors if the team wants to improve.
In addition to defense, the Indian's pitching was fully expected to be another strength of the team. Many people thought that if the Tribe had any chance to win the AL Central, it would come down to their pitching to carry the team.
Unfortunately, the pitching performances of both the starting pitchers and the bullpen have left much to be desired.
As it sits, the Tribe's pitching is ranked 26th out of 32 teams with a 5-5 record and a team ERA of 5.13. Their opponents are hitting .264 against them and they already have two blown saves on the season.
Several extra inning marathon games early in the year coupled with a few early exits by the starters have overtaxed the bullpen. If the Indians want to still be in the conversation for the AL Central crown later in the season, they must find a way to dramatically improve their pitching.