One month of the 2013 Major League season is in the books. Over the course of the past 30 days we’ve learned a lot about the Indians. We’ve learned that they can hit the long ball and put crooked numbers on the board with the best of them, but we’ve also learned they can go days at a time without any sort of offensive explosion. It’s the type of up and down performance than can place added pressure on an already highly strained pitching staff. With that in mind, how does the committee of one see the Indians following the first month of the season.
Well, it’s time to find out. Here are the Cleveland Indians Power Rankings for the month of May.
1. Justin Masterson: There is no denying the importance of Justin Masterson to the Indians. He has elevated himself once again to the ace of the staff and leader by example. Through the first month, he has posted a 4-2 record with a 3.12 ERA, 8.7 k/9 and 2.29 K/BB. If not for a 7 run implosion against the Royals on Sunday, those numbers would be even better.
2. Carlos Santana: It’s beginning to look as if Carlos Santana is finally achieving his true potential. He currently leads the Major Leagues in batting with a .389 average and has already hit 5 home runs and driven in 13 RBI. Whether it was playing in the World Baseball Classic, or bringing in other hitter to take pressure off of him at the plate, the results have been magnificent.
3. Mark Reynolds: Nick Swisher was the prized free agent singing of the winter, but as of right now Mark Reynolds looks like one of the best signings in all of baseball.Fully healthy for the first time in a couple of years, Reynolds looks like the power threat that he was a few years back with Arizona. So far, 8 home runs, 22 RBI, and an OPS of 1.019. Can he keep it up? Who knows, but it’s going to be fun to find out.
4. Michael Bourn: It was easy to see the impact Michael Bourn had on the offense over the first few weeks of the season. It became even more apparent during his absence with a laceration to his hand. The Indians have struggled offensively without him and while Michael Brantley has done an admirable job filling in at the top of the lineup, everything makes more sense with Bourn batting lead-off.
5. Ubaldo Jimenez: Jimenez’s status in these rankings has been largely from the position of how bad he has been. It’s almost as if he was holding these ranking hostage. But, there’s hope! After a serviceable outing versus Houston and a dominant start against the Royals, there’s a chance that the work being done by pitching coach Mickey Callaway is beginning to make an impact. Will the positive vibes be able to continue?
6. Terry Francona: We’ve come to the point where it’s less about Terry Francona and more about how his players perform night in and night out. Sure, there will be the occasional bone headed decision on Francona’s part, but he won’t become truly critical until September and on into October where playing match-ups and managing high stress situations is a necessary job requirement.
7. Mike Aviles: Say what you want about Aviles’ track record, particularly his performance in 2012 with the Red Sox, but so far in 2013 he has been a more than serviceable part-time player. He has been a substantial upgrade over the utility men of year’s past, posting a .262 average with 2 home runs, 11 RBI and some semi spectacular defensive high-lights. It’s completely possible, depending on how things play out, that Aviles’ play allows for the possibility that Asdrubal Cabrera could be traded at the deadline.
8. Joe Smith/Vinnie Pestano/Chris Perez: All three have continued to shine in their roles coming out of the bullpen. The only downside is that thanks to semi-poor start to the season, none has been utilized to the extent that you would expect right now. Through 24 games, each has only had 8 innings of work. If the Indians can turn things around, look for them to get more work and their status in these rankings to rise.
9. Ryan Raburn: Raburn was not a contender to make this list two days ago. However, thanks to an offensive explosion that has seen him go 7 for his last 8 with 4 home runs and 7 RBI made me change my position on this. With regular playing time Raburn could continue to be a solid contributor moving forward. Will his current line continue? Probably not, but I think many of us have substantially more faith in him than we have had in the extra outfielders of years past.
10.Jason Giambi: Not only has Jason Giambi provided solid veteran leadership (never more apparent than with his comments regarding Jason Collins), but he has also been a solid contributor at the plate. Signing Giambi was a nice story but no one expected much, if anything at all from the often injured 42-year old slugger. But, heading into play tonight Giambi has shown flashes of the power that made him one of the most feared hitters in the game. The Indians could have done much worse for a part-time designated hitter/extra bench coach.