MLB 2012: 5 Reasons the Cleveland Indians Are in 1st Place

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MLB 2012: 5 Reasons the Cleveland Indians Are in 1st Place
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Indians Manager Manny Acta has pressed all the right buttons for the Indians in 2012.

The Cleveland Indians continue to sizzle in the early portion of the 2012 season. The Indians swept the Chicago White Sox in a doubleheader on Monday. Those two wins improved their record to 17-11. They are sitting in first place in the American League Central. Yes, ahead of the Detroit Tigers. Those same Tigers most experts thought had bought themselves a division crown when they signed slugger supreme Prince Fielder to a mega-million dollar contract this offseason.

The Indians started slowly, blowing a big lead on Opening Day in a loss to Toronto and going 1-4 in their first five games. But they went 7-2 on a West Coast swing and have been getting strong bullpen work and timely hitting to go along with strong starting pitching.

Second baseman Jason Kipnis (BA .300, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 6 SB) continues to provide productivity for the lineup while third baseman Jack Hannahan (.282 BA, 2 HR, 18 RBI) has played outstanding defense while adding clutch hitting.

Cleveland took two-of-three this weekend against defending American League Champion Texas. Sunday, Indian starter Ubaldo Jimenez went seven strong innings. Ubaldo's performance allowed some in the front office to breathe a sign of relief. The Indians dealt two first-round picks to Colorado last summer for Jimenez, who was supposed to be a top-of-the-rotation talent. The one-time All-Star had struggled during in his time in Cleveland and looked nothing like the guy who started the year in 2010 on fire and was the starting pitcher for the National League All-Star team the same year. Jimenez struck out seven and allowed just two hits in shutting down the potent Texas lineup.

The Indians' quick start has not drawn the attention of the fans in Cleveland. They are taking a wait-and-see approach before buying tickets. The team is last in baseball in home attendance.

Attendance may be down but the team is not. Here are five reasons the Indians are off to a strong start:

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