So we are now 18 games into the 2011 baseball season, and the Tribe is a healthy 13-5, good for first in the AL Central. The team has been surprisingly well-balanced, and really the only ugly games were the first two of the season versus the White Sox. The Indians have been a feel-good story during the first month of the season, with surprising contributions (Asdrubal Cabrera showing up ready to play, Josh Tomlin ignoring the fact that he’s a #5 starter), and resurgences (Uhh, hey Pronk, where the hell you been?)
But I always harp about small sample sizes. And yes, 18 games is definitely a small sample size.
So, I’ve been making the joke lately that, if the season were to end today, and they Indians went on to win the World Series, I would still consider it a totally legit championship. I don’t care. I’m having a blast watching the Indians win. This team isn’t getting lucky, it’s getting good. And I’m not the only one who thinks this. Even the national media is noticing. I found this article on ESPN.com, and it made me grin: the Indians being good is good for baseball.
However, if the season were to end today, I would be dead wrong about a few things. Yes, I know it’s a monumental moment: I’m admitting I was wrong. Bask in it, and enjoy the errors of my ways.
- Justin Masterson – OhwowohwowohWOW. Justin, you are the reason I am not a major league scout. I figured you’d never cut it as a starter, that’d you’d always be the reliever the Indians got for Victor Martinez (Brian Giles for Ricardo Rincon anyone?). And so far, you’re making me completely eat my words. Masterson has been dominant, with a sparkling 1.71 ERA, a WHIP of 1.14, opponents are hitting just .219 off him, and he’s *only* had 15 strikeouts so far. He’s been the anchor of the rotation, and if he can sustain this level of play, he’ll be at his first All-Star game in July.
- Travis Hafner – So, should I start referring to him as, “The Baseball Player Formerly Known as the Baseball Player Formerly Known as Pronk?” Pronk is back, Tribe fans. He’s hitting like he was five years ago. While he’s still vulnerable to left-handed pitching, his splits are still good versus both righties and lefties. Uh, yeah, he’s still grossly overpaid, but he’s been the Indians most reliable hitter (so far) this season.
- The CC Sabathia Trade – Maybe it’s not as awful as I feared? I wouldn’t give it an A-, like fellow DLFer Steve did in this trade analysis, (I mean, the Indians traded a Cy Young winner and pulled the plug too early on the season to get Matt LaPorta?) but if the Indians can pull legit everyday starters like Michael Brantley and LaPorta, then this trade isn’t a failure (and still looks better than the Cliff Lee deal). LaPorta needs to hit even more, and develop more power, but a .369 OBP is MUCH better than where he was last year. Brantley has done everything asked of him, with a .419 OBP and solid outfield defense, and could be a fixture in the outfield for years to come.
- Manny Acta – I wasn’t a huge fan of the Acta hiring, at first. I didn’t think hiring a retread just cause he had ML managing experience (c’mon, the Nationals weren’t really a major league team then) was the best move. But Acta has grown on me, and he seems to be the right guy for the job. He’s optimistic, but not delusional. He’s energetic and has a personality (unlike a certain mustachioed former manager, now in Seattle). So, right now, I’m seeing the Indians through Actavision.
So there ya go. Enjoy the good baseball, Cleveland, because as we know all too well, it may not last. But at least the Indians are making April fun again.