Many times in baseball, statistics do not support a team’s success or lack of it.
For example, last season, the Baltimore Orioles scored just seven more runs than they allowed, but went 93-69 in the standings. The sabermetric people would say the O’s overachieved. They did it by having an astounding 29-9 record in one run games.
This year’s Cleveland Indians are no surprise according to the numbers. Their 19-15 record is legitimate.
The Tribe’s position players are also younger than the league average at 28.4 years of age. The American League average is 29.1. And if you take grizzled veteran Jason Giambi out of the equation, Cleveland would have the fourth youngest position players in the AL, behind just Houston, Kansas City, and Baltimore.
That certainly bodes well for the future.
Even better is that the Tribe’s pitchers are the youngest in the league at 27.6 years old, compared to the AL average of 29 years of age.
The Indians average 5.06 runs per game, the second best average in the Junior Circuit, behind only division rival Detroit. They allow 4.24 runs per contest, a figure that ranks ninth, so there is still room for improvement.
We said prior to the season starting that the Wahoos needed to be in the top half of the league in both categories to be serious contenders. They are close right now, ranking 8th in ERA.
As for the other key offensive numbers, the Indians rank 4th in on base percentage, and lead the American League in slugging percentage and OPS. They are 3rd in batting average, but are fourth from the bottom in drawing walks. That is a number they will need to improve upon, as pitchers down the road may prey on their aggressiveness.
While many fans (including us) were worried about strikeouts, the Indians aren’t even in the top half of the league in striking out, ranking ninth. No Indians ranks in the ten of the league in whiffing.
The Tribe power hasn’t just been home runs (they lead the AL), but they also rank fifth in doubles and third in triples. They’ve been hitting for extra bases a lot.
As for the pitching, it has joined the hitting in feast or famine mode, being tied for the league lead in shutouts with five (with Texas, Tampa Bay, and Seattle). It says a lot about the stuff of the Indians’ pitchers that they lead the AL in allowing the least hits per nine innings. They also rank fifth in the league in strikeouts.
However, there are a couple of areas of concern. Cleveland pitchers are walking more than the average team, ranking sixth in the league in walks allowed. They also are third from the bottom in innings pitched by starters so far this year, ahead of just Houston and Minnesota. Although Terry Francona has kept 13 pitchers on the roster for much of the season, there is a fear of burning out the relief corps, which is a huge strength for this team.
This team doesn’t have any weird anomalies or getting a great deal of luck involved in a pretty good start. Francona’s bunch are playing good solid baseball. They are 8-5 in games decided by one run, another good stat. Good teams win blowout games.
Right now, the Cleveland Indians are no fluke.