With the Cleveland Indians currently sitting in first place in the American League Central Division with a 22-17 record, several experts have said this is due to the club early season schedule.
It probably viewed that way because the Tribe hasn’t played a lot of games against the traditional big boys of the league, the Yankees and Red Sox. Obviously, those “experts” haven’t looked at the standings which show those two squads sitting at the bottom of the AL East.
Now, at this juncture of the season, no one is saying the Yankees are an also-ran, and even though the Red Sox have struggled thus far, most feel they will be in contention when the calendar hits August and September.
This isn’t to say the Indians have had to fight through a slate of the ’27 Yankees and ’84 Tigers in the first quarter of the season, but if you look at the American League, how many teams would you consider very good right now?
The obvious choice for the best team in the league is the Texas Rangers, and Cleveland took two of three from the two-time defending American League champions in early May, and next week’s three game set versus Detroit is another good test for the Tribe.
Everyone considered the Angels a contender before the season started, and they have fulfill those expectations before the year’s end, but right now they aren’t playing like one, and the Indians took two of three from them as well.
Besides the Yankees, the only teams with good records the Tribe hasn’t faced are the Orioles and Rays, who sit a top of the Eastern Division. The Rays have made the playoffs in three of the last four seasons, and there is no doubt they are a quality team, but the Orioles are in a similar boat as Cleveland, most don’t take them seriously at this point.
You can only play who you are scheduled to play. When people complained this week that the Indians won four in a row against the lowly Twins and Mariners, would they really have preferred the Tribe lose to them? Victories against those teams count exactly the same in the standings as wins against New York or Boston.
Besides, those same Twins who lost two to Cleveland early in the week, then played Detroit and beat them in both games.
In baseball, anyone can beat anyone else on a given day.
The point is there aren’t a lot of great teams in the American League at this point in the season. Think about the teams you may fear as a fan? How many are there?
From our perspective, the Rangers are a team to be reckoned with and so are the Tigers. It will be huge for attendance if the Tribe can win the series that starts on Tuesday night. It would provide those negative people with some proof this team can compete with Detroit.
The Rays and the Yankees should also be viewed as very good opponents because of their track record. The Red Sox’ pitching is shaky and they have a lot of injuries.
The rest of the American League teams are beatable, and it shouldn’t be a surprise if the Indians can take two out of three against them. And remember, the Tribe still has 17 games left against the Twins, who look to be the worst team in the AL, at least on paper.
While the Indians haven’t gone through a series of juggernauts to get to this point, they haven’t played a bunch of AAA teams either. There are only five other teams above .500 in the league, and Cleveland has already played two of them.
Teams that contend have to win against the teams who aren’t very good. They shouldn’t have to apologize for doing it.
Fans should focus on how Cleveland does this week against Detroit. That’s the best team they will have an extensive amount of games with, and holding their own against them will keep the Tribe in contention.