Monday, September 12, 2005

Are These Indians For Real?

Are these Indians for real? Who are the guys currently playing in the Tribe uniforms? What has all of a sudden jump started this team to not only the AL Wild Card lead, but also only 5.5 games out of 1st place in the AL Central with 6 games left against the first place Chicago White Sox?

Well to start, their pitching staff has emerged to be one of the top in the American League. They are currently tied by 4th in team ERA, led by starters Kevin Millwood & Cliff Lee along with closer Bob Wickman who currently has 39 saves. Millwood is currently the ERA leader in the American League, which shouldn't come as a surprise since Millwood has a very good lifetime ERA of 3.81. C.C. Sabathia, the proclaimed "ace" of the Indians pitching staff has had an average year by his standards, along with Jake Westbrook who has a 4.59 ERA after having a very good 2004 season winning 14 games and a 3.38 ERA. However, maybe the biggest surprise of this pitching staff would have to be the bullpen. Led by Bob Wickman with 39 saves, along with an MLB leading 2.87 team bullpen ERA. Is the bullpen for real? Will they hold up late into September and into October? Will Sauerbeck, Betancourt, Riske, Rhodes, & Miller be able to consistenly get the ball to Wickman? If the 2005 season up until this point has any indication of the answer, all signs would assume so.

The success of the Indians can obviously be related to the pitching staff, but the offense has also done their share of helping. Mixed with a blend of young and veteran hitters, this offense has scored the 6th most runs in all of baseball. Perhaps the biggest and most important ingredient in the Cleveland lineup would be leadoff hitter, Grady Sizemore. Sizemore, acquired in the Bartolo Colon to the Expos trade, has been nothing but superb for the Indians this year. As a leadoff hitter, he is second on the team in RBI's with 76 behind Hafner's 88.

A lot of these young hitters, like Sizemore, have grown into some solid everyday ballplayers, and that could be credited to the patience exerted by the GM of the Indians, Mark Shapiro. When the Indians went into the rebuilding mode, Shapiro knew it needed to happen. He realized the market was changing, and it was time to get some young talent. Sizemore & Crisp are obviously the catalysts of this offense, but a lot of the Indians 2nd half offensive success can be attributed to the 2nd half of Victor Martinez. This guy has done nothing but tear the cover off the ball in the 2nd half of the season posting a .447 OBP, a .589 SLG%, & an absurd 1.036 OPS. Right next to Jason Varitek and Joe Mauer, this guy is the best offensive catcher in the AL.

Shapiro said that 2006 was supposed to be the year the Indians got into major contention in the American League, but it looks like this team has arrived a year earlier than expected. While watching the Indians continue to piledrive the Minnesota Twins this past weekend at Jacobs Field, you could tell that baseball is back in the city of Cleveland. This team doesn't just want a Wild Card berth, they feel has though the major contention that was supposedly going to happen in 2006 could happen in 2005.

And by looking at the numbers and the kind of production they are getting from their pitching staff and their lineup, that might not be too far out of the question.


Blogger BostonFanatics said...

Very nice blog. This is a great topic to talk about and you hit it on the nose. After reading through and evaluating all the stats you listed. I can tell that you are a extremely knowledge man in baseball. The Indians do have the combinations to win the Wild Card. And like you said potentially the AL Central. I'll be sure to keep this blog bookmarked after reading your first. I enjoyed reading this information on Cleveland. I look forward to reading more. Maybe some on why Boston Rules or something, and the 1-2 punch of Ortiz and Ramirez or How Ortiz is such a clutch player? Anyways, great blog. Keep up the good work.

8:15 PM  

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