It took some time but the Cleveland Indians have ovetaken the Minnesota Twins for first place in the American League Central.
Remember when the Cleveland Indians were dead and should just give up on the season and immediate future? That no longer applies. After compiling the best record in baseball since June 1st (43-18), the Tribe are atop the American League Central. This is the first time since April 20th that Cleveland has been alone in first place.
One of the important things to look at in the AL Central is the record of the Minnesota Twins since June 1st. Minnesota is 32-39 over the same timeframe that the Indians have been the best team in baseball. Cleveland’s .705 winning percentage certainly shows just that. This shows the trajectory of both teams over a large enough length of time that shows it is more than a blip. Things are coming together for Cleveland while the same cannot be said for Minnesota.
Cleveland made the blockbuster trade of Trevor Bauer and acquired something they desperately needed, offense. The additions of Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes have certainly helped a team that lacked enough of a punch to compete with the best in baseball. Now adding in two power bats to a lineup that is finding their stride just makes this team that much better. These additions have also moved Jason Kipnis down in the lineup. A resurgent Kipnis only lengthens the Cleveland lineup and make them more difficult to face.
Indians offense is being picked up by Jose Ramirez
Jose Ramirez is finally back to being Jose Ramirez. Since June 1st Ramirez is slashing .283/.325/.554 with an OPS of .879. Ramirez has 20 doubles, 13 home runs and two triples while driving in 50 runs and even stealing 10 bases. The Indians offense tends to follow the trends of Jose Ramirez. Ramirez is on fire right now and so is the Cleveland offense.
The “other guys” have been the stars of the Indians pitching staff
Possibly the most unexpected thing about this run is that it is being done without Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. Currently the top arms in the Indians rotation consist of Mike Clevinger, Zach Plesac, and Shane Bieber. These have been the big three for Cleveland as they have been able to fight back in the division without what were considered their aces coming into the season. This even includes the time when Trevor Bauer was still on the team. In starts by Clevinger, Plesac and Bieber Cleveland is an impressive 36-14. Even if they are not credited with a win, the team is still able to win.
The Indians schedule will certainly be tough in the coming weeks, facing the Red Sox, Mets, and Yankees, Cleveland will have their hands full. The good news is that the Cleveland certainly appears ready for the challenge.