By Brad VanFossan
The 2011 Cleveland Indians got off to an amazing start last year, well at least for 2000's era Indians teams by starting the year off at 30-15. It seemed like almost every night someone was delivering a walk off home run or basehit to win yet another April or May game. The Indians were also on fire at the beginning of the year at Flo errrrrr Progressive Field, at one point winning 14 in a row at home. Not even the greasy haired, brown pleather jacket wearing "savings guy" could deliver those kind of results. He's no Flo that's for sure.
The Indians at one point even had the majors best record at 23-11 on May 11th. As I write this, the Indians are 16-11 and are a rain delay away from a possibly double header sweep of Chicago, which would extend their first place lead to two and a half games over Detroit. Sure, it wasn't the huge lead they were building a year ago, but this year it feels more real. The Indians aren't having to come back in their last at bats a lot like they were last year, they are winning games this year all the way through the game, not so much in a smoke and mirrors kinda fashion. You can't keep consistently winning games in your last at bat, it's a formula that's eventually going to lead to crashing and burning, which the 2011 Indians did.
Another reason I think the 2012 team can continue to get even better is that they're not even winning at home just yet. As of right now they are only 7-8 at home. It's a safe bet that record is going to get better as summer rolls around. Also, no one is quite hitting up to their potential just yet. No one's having a career year like Asdrubal Cabrera did last year. No one is having to carry the team offensively, and on the flip side, no one from the pitching staff has been relied on too heavily, although Derek Lowe has been a nice surprise, and has ended three brief Indians losing streaks.
The moral of the story is, the Indians are playing pretty consistent, and there's still room for improvement both offensively and with the pitching staff, although the starting pitching has started to come around, and closer Chris Perez, who has a history of being erratic, is leading the league with 11 saves. And another thing that comes with playing consistent but not going on a terror of a winning streak, is that you can fly under the radar in the national media. I think that is something else that will help this fairly young team. And dealing with a dose of it from last year's hot start will help in case they do start to run away with the division again, but I don't think that will be the case.
I do think the 2012 Cleveland Indians will be in it for the long haul, barring any injuries. So I think it's time to start showing up at the games to show ownership us fans will buy tickets and support this team. They are once again pleasantly surprising us with solid play. Let last year be a lesson, it could go as fast as it started, so enjoy it now, but this year I say expect it to last.