Cleveland Indians: 5 Players Most Responsible for Breakout Year
As the baseball season rolls into gear, most teams are looking up in the standings at a surprising leader.
The Cleveland Indians are enjoying a breakthrough season, possessing Major League Baseball's best record at 29-15 and dominating their opponents at Progressive Field, losing only four times in 22 games.
Although the season is young, these five players will look to continue their impressive play and keep the Indians at the top of the Central Division.
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Cabrera has been one of the Indians' biggest surprises this season. He leads the team in almost every offensive category including home runs, RBI and hits, and sits just nine RBI shy of MLB leader Adrian Gonzalez.
As offensive stars Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana struggle to get going and Grady Sizemore tries to stay healthy, Cabrera has helped keep the Indians' offense afloat.
If Cabrera continues to have success and Choo, Santana and Sizemore produce like they are expected to, Cleveland could have one of the league's most feared lineups.
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Although Hafner was recently placed on the 15-Day DL, he seems to have gotten back to his hitting form from the 2007 season.
After three disappointing seasons from 2008-2010, Hafner has started the 2011 season strong, hitting five home runs and driving in 22 RBI. However, the most impressive stat from Hafner may be his batting average. The career .283 hitter is batting .345 and leading the Indians in the statistic.
As the season continues, the Indians will need Hafner to stay healthy to help them succeed.
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In just his second season with the Indians, Tomlin has already matched his win total from 2010 with six and has lost just once in his nine starts.
Tomlin has been a surprise for the Indians, staying calm under pressure and out-pitching his opponents. He has been more consistent than ace Fausto Carmona, who has started slow with a 3-4 record, and shows a lot of maturity for a second-year player.
Indians fans are hopeful Tomlin can continue his winning ways into the summer and beyond.
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As expected, the Cleveland bullpen has been a strong point for this team. Led by their closer Chris Perez, the Indians have been able to win a lot of close games and hold leads in late innings.
Perez has been dominant, ranking second in the American League with 12 saves and blowing only one. However, he has struggled against left-handed hitters, a problem he will look to solve as the season wears on.
With the experience the Indians have had this season in close games, and with the work Perez continues to get out of the bullpen, the more meaningful games in September could be easier for this young team.
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Another young player on the Indians roster, the 24-year-old center fielder has been a model of consistency in the Cleveland lineup.
Brantley has 22 RBI and four home runs, and is batting just under .300 for the season, ranking third on the Indians' roster. In his previous two seasons in Cleveland, Brantley accounted for only 33 RBI and three home runs.
Brantley will look to continue to anchor the bottom half of the Indians' lineup and help produce during Grady Sizemore's absence.