Winning. Did anyone who remotely follows baseball predict that the Cleveland Indians would be in first place in the AL Central for even one day?  Through 14 games, the Tribe is tied with the Kansas City Royals atop the AL Central standings. Did they get an injection of tiger blood?  One can only wonder how long the young and inexperienced Indians (and Royals, for that matter) can maintain their stellar play.  

Let’s consider some numbers.  The Cleveland lineup is batting .259 on the year, middle of the road in the AL.  They rank no higher than fifth in any major offensive category.  Thus, one can safely say that the Tribe’s lineup is not on a gigantic hot streak that accounts for the winning.  

Now, let’s look at the pitching staff.  The staff ERA is at 3.34, fifth in the AL.  The eye-popping stat is that their batting average against is an excellent .212.  The rotation has been stellar thus far.  They are putting up quality starts one after another.  

One reason for the Tribe’s hot start is excellent pitching.  The other is solid defense.  General Manager Mark Shapiro made it a point of emphasis this offseason to improve the infield defense.  Starters Masterson, Carmona and Carrasco are all primarily ground ball pitchers who rely on the guys behind them to make plays.  The Cabrera duo up the middle is a large upgrade over last season.  Jack Hannahan has been pleasantly solid at the hot corner.  

Cleveland can contend in this division if a number of things continue:  1) the young and inexperienced rotation continues to piece together quality starts,  2) the defense holds up,  3)  the offense is above-average.  

Will these things happen?  I would say no.  Unfortunately, I have a difficult time seeing this rotation continue to throw as well as they have.  They are too young and hitters will adjust given time.  I also do not see the lineup hitting this well for very long.  An improvement over last season can surely be attained.  But a division crown will not happen this year.  

But they are winning, for now.  

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