Cleveland Indians: Why They'll Stay in Contention in the AL Central
The Tribe is back. The Cleveland Indians are showing a lot of potential in this 2011 season. Yes, the season is young as we are only nine games in, but what can we take from these games? The seven game wining streak will eventually come to an end, but the aptitude will continue throughout the season. The Indians are stacked with talent and will continue to blend well as a team.
The returning players who have had a great impact on the team in previous seasons will do so in this season. Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo started off the first few games on the slow side. Choo has started to show his real talent, batting .200 with two RBI, one homer, seven hits and six runs.
Designated hitter Travis Hafner appears to have gotten his swing back. He's currently batting .370 with six RBI, two homers, ten hits, seven runs and one double. To most, it seemed has though Pronk reached his peak in 2006. Thus far, his strong reliable bat is back in action and it’s becoming clear that he will come back full force.
Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was recently named the American League Co-Player of the Week ending April 10. A. Cabrera is hitting .316 with nine RBI, three homers, 12 hits, seven runs and two doubles. Over the last three season, he has averaged a .982 fielding percentage. With the combined high level play on both sides of the field, A. Cabrera will prove his talent is among the best of them.
The new addition, second baseman Orlando Cabrera, is leading his team, batting .375 with seven RBI, five runs, 12 hits, one homer and one double. If Cabrera can continue to step up his game, he will definitely be a big part of the team’s success this season.
The top through the bottom of the lineup is consistently doing their job. Cleveland is ranked third in the AL, due to the .285 team batting average. Collectively, the Tribe have tallied 49 RBI, 11 homers, 52 runs, 86 hits and 16 doubles.
The Tribe has typically been consisted of young players who develop while on the team. These young players are ready to compete with the veterans. Catcher Carlos Santana is proving to have the skills to fill the cleats of Victor Martinez. Santana is batting .265 with six RBI, five runs, nine runs and one home run.
Outfielder Michael Brantley bats .303 with five RBI, four runs, 10 hits and three doubles. Brantley continues to improve with each season and now has plenty of major league experience to use his talent to its full potential.
Return of Sizemore
The return of center fielder Grady Sizemore will be a huge improvement to the team. The four-time MVP and two-time Golden Glove winner is expected to return to the playing field in mid to late May. For now, Travis Buck and Austin Kearns have been filling in. As a whole, the two bat .150 with one RBI, four runs, five hits and three doubles. Assuming Sizemore would be consistent with his averages, if he started off this season, his average would be about a .272. This average would take the team average to .291, putting the Indians in the two spot rather than third. Once Sizemore is back in the lineup, this team will only get better.
This 2011 team has shown a strong bullpen thus far, something Cleveland has been seriously lacking in recent season. The strongest pitcher for the Indians right now is Justin Masterson. He has pitched 13.1 innings, with a 1.35 ERA allowing just two runs and 11 hits while striking out nine. Masterson is exactly what this team needs to be a threat on defense. Josh Tomlin has also started off the season well, pitching 13.2 innings with a 2.63 ERAand only allowing six hits and four runs while striking out seven. With two great starters, the mound won’t be a problem this season.
To close out the game, the Indians can look to Chris Perez, Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez. None of these three pitchers has allowed a run. C. Perez has pitched five innings striking out three, Sipp pitched five striking out four batters and R. Perez pitched four also with four strikeouts.
The Tribe Will Only Get Better
The 2011 Cleveland Indians are proving to be a threat defensively and offensively. Individually, each player is loaded with talent and with more games, the team will have more time to gel with the new players. This will only bring more success to this team.