The Cleveland Indians are not exactly top contenders in the American League.
But there is nothing bad about an 8-9 start that has the team right in the mix in the American League Central division.
The Indians are a weird team in 2021.
They could easily finish first or last in the division and either realities would make sense.
It all depends on whether the offense can step up and support the dominant pitching staff.
So far the team at ESPN seems to have faith in the Indians.
Cleveland actually moved up to No. 14 overall in the latest ESPN MLB power rankings in the third set of the season.
That is five spots higher than the first-place Kansas City Royals.
Meanwhile, the second-place Chicago White Sox are ranked No. 7 overall.
That offers up some reference for how the rankings vary early in the year.
Even the last-place Minnesota Twins are ranked one spot ahead of the Indians.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) April 23, 2021
Deciphering Early Power Rankings
The Indians had a disappointing game Thursday night.
A 6-3 loss against the struggling New York Yankees was not what fans had in mind.
However, it was only the first game of a four-game series.
The Indians are not in any sort of free-fall and the talent in the rotation and bullpen explains why the ranking remains in the top half of MLB.
The Yankees also remain a weak opponent and it would be a shock if the Indians don’t at least split the series.
Minnesota showing up ahead of the Indians proves that April power rankings remain a big guess.
The Twins entered the year as AL Central favorites and a 6-11 start, in the midst of COVID-19 issues, will not change the overall outlook of the season.
Outlook for Remainder of 2021
The Indians are doing just about as expected.
The pitching is strong and the offense is struggling.
Aaron Civale, 91mph Fastball (foul) and 77mph Curveball (swinging K), Overlay pic.twitter.com/R5wTYyswx2
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 22, 2021
Terry Francona continues to use platoons at several positions and that should indicate long-term decisions will be made later this year.
That is true whether the team is a contender or not.
Young players can join the major league squad later this summer and the Indians can maintain that valuable team control.
While it is frustrating to hold young talent down, it is all part of the business.