We’re barely three weeks into the MLB season, which means now is as perfect a time as any to assess the potential of the Cleveland Guardians.
The team currently sits at 7-6 and atop the AL Central.
But what are the chances this team is still sticking around the top of the pecking order come early October?
They currently have the third-best odds to win the division (+800), according to FanDuel.
Above the Guardians are the best-rated White Sox (-210) and the Twins (+600).
For the first two weeks of the season, the Chi-Sox looked every part of a contender, sprinting out to a 6-2 start.
Since then, Tony LaRussa’s side has dropped five straight, including a sweep last week against the Guardians in a series that Cleveland never trailed.
The Cleveland Guardians just swept Chicago to take 1st place in the AL Central!
— Nick Karns (@karnsies817) April 21, 2022
The Royals and Tigers, who have the longest odds (+2000 and +850, respectively) are still in the midst of their respective rebuilds and, over the course of a season, will likely fade.
So far, the Guardians haven’t struggled putting the ball in play, rating (raking?) second in the league in winning percentage and third in runs.
The trio is hitting .500, .395, and .392, respectively.
Whether the three can keep their Ty Cobb-esque bats hot remains to be seen; what should make Guardians fans cautiously optimistic, though, is how the runs are coming.
Through thirteen games, the Guards have managed twelve home runs.
Respectable, but average.
In fact, precisely the league average (15th).
But the fact that the runs are coming despite anyone playing hero ball is probably a good thing.
Home runs come and go; a highly individual metric, it’s an unreliable indicator of team success.
Take a look at the top-five teams by average last season (Astros, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Nationals, White Sox).
Only one of those (Blue Jays) also ranked in the top-five for home runs.
But, all five teams finished in the top-five for hits.
That’s good company for this season’s Guardians, not just in the AL Central, but across the league.
The point is, moonshots are fun, but they aren’t the end-all, be-all.
Sometimes, having the most potent offense in every other category is even more promising.
— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) April 22, 2022
So what could keep this team from contending?
On the plus, when this team scores, they SCORE.
Even though they don’t rely on home runs, the team still finds ways to hang 17 points against opponents.
But when the bats dry up, they haven’t exactly demonstrated an ability to grind out close, low-scoring affairs.
Aside for an 8-1 mess against the Giants, all of their losses have been relatively close–within three runs.
And, while each loss hasn’t been scoreless (another testament to the offense), they’ve each come with the Guardians tallying only one or two runs.
The Guardians have also been fairly streaky.
If the pitching can keep this team in nail biters on days when the offense doesn’t show, the team will be well on their way to a more consistent play.
And who knows, if this team stays streaky, maybe they pencil in their last streak for oh, say, October 1st?
Just a thought.