Cleveland Indians: 5 Reasons This Hot Start Isn't a Fluke

Adam HawkinsContributor IIIMay 30, 2011

Cleveland Indians: 5 Reasons This Hot Start Isn't a Fluke

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    CLEVELAND - MAY 13:  Shin-Soo Choo #17 of the Cleveland Indians and members of his team celebrate following the walk-off two run home run by Travis Hafner #48 in the 9th inning against the Seattle Mariners during the game on May 13, 2011 at Progressive Fi
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    The Cleveland Indians continue their hot streak to begin the 2011 season, and their success does not seem to be stopping any time soon.

    After a disappointing 69-93 record last season, the Indians already have 31 wins through 50 games this season. They have a six game lead in the AL Central and trail only the Philadelphia Phillies in winning percentage.

    As the season progresses, the Indians will need to continue their hot start to stay atop their division and make a run into the playoffs.

Strength of Schedule

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    CLEVELAND - MAY 11: Ben Zobrist #18 of the Tampa Bay Rays trots around third base after hitting a home run off of Justin Germano #39 of the Cleveland Indians during the game on May 11, 2011 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jared Wickerh
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    The Indians rank second in ESPN's list of Relative Power Index, which determines the top teams based on winning percentage and their opponents' winning percentage.

    With the No. 11 strength of schedule in the league, the Indians have had success against top teams in the MLB without playing the Nationals and Astros of the league.

    The Indians have played 15 games against the majors' best division, the AL East, and it has yet to hurt the team's standing in their division. They have instead thrived against good competition.

Disappointing Division

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 29: Justin Morneau #33 (L), Jason Kubel #16, Drew Butera #41, pitching coach Rick Anderson #40 and Jim Thome #25 of the Minnesota Twins during the ninth inning of their game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on May 29, 2011 a
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    The AL Central, however, has been surprisingly disappointing.

    Last year's division winner, the Minnesota Twins, are an MLB-worst 17-34, and have been without all-star catcher Joe Mauer for the entire season due to injury.

    The Detroit Tigers are the only other team from the AL Central with a record at or above .500, and the White Sox are seven games below .500.

Solid Defense

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    CLEVELAND - MAY 13:  Asdrubal Cabrera #13 of the Cleveland Indians fields a ground ball against the Seattle Mariners during the game on May 13, 2011 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    The Indians defense has been more consistent than their pitching, and the team sits in the top 10 in team defense during the new season.

    The team has committed only 27 errors through 50 games and has a .986 fielding percentage.

    Most consistent in the field has been catcher Carlos Santana and first baseman Matt LaPorta, who both have more than 300 put outs and each have a fielding percentage of .990 or more.

Dominating Offense

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 17:  Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians points skyward as he crosses home plate after a solo home run during the 5th inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals on May 17, 2011 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Misso
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Most surprisingly for the Indians may be the team's offense in the beginning of the season.

    The Indians have a top-10 offense without players such as Carlos Santana and Shin-Soo Choo contributing the way they were expected to.

    With major contributions from Orlando Cabrera, Michael Brantley and Matt LaPorta, and a lack of contribution from star players Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner, the Indians should continue their offensive prowess throughout the rest of the season.

Asdrubal Cabrera

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    CLEVELAND - APRIL 06:  Asdrubal Cabrera #13 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates with his teammates after hitting a three run home run against he Boston Red Sox during the game on April 6, 2011 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jared Wick
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Asdrubal Cabrera has been MVP worthy to begin the season. He leads the team in almost every offensive category including RBI and batting average, and has been the most consistent contributor in the team's surprising offense.

    He has been one of the best shortstops in the league throughout the first 50 games, and has been a rock in the Indians' lineup.

    There is no reason to doubt Cabrera's continuing success, and with that, could come an All Star game for Cabrera and playoffs for the Indians.