I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the Cleveland Indians. When I was a young, impressionable baseball fan growing up smack in between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, the Indians’ exciting team full of young stars like Manny Ramirez (before he was The Man That Kicked Puppies and Ruined Baseball) and Kenny Lofton and Jim Thome and even Albert Belle tempted me away from my beloved Pirates, who were struggling to pull themselves above the aftermath of Barry Bonds’ departure (if only I’d known …).
I held strong then, but I still keep tabs on the Tribe. I really liked their 2007 team that came oh-so-close to a World Series and I was ecstatic when the Pirates hired Neal Huntington out of Mark Shapiro’s front office because I’ve always seen Shapiro’s Indians as an organization that truly understands the up-and-down cycles of small market baseball in the luxury tax era.
This is all a roundabout way of saying that I’m happy to see that they’re 8-2 and on an absolute tear right now. I really am. I hope they keep it up. But here’s the thing: right now, the Indians have hit 13 home runs as a team and Jack Hannahan and Asdrubal Cabrera have combined for six of them. Cabrera, with four homers, has already surpassed his 2010 total of three. Hannahan, with two, has done the same as well because he didn’t play in the big leagues anywhere last year. He couldn’t crack the Mariners’ punchless roster out of camp before they traded him to Boston for cash mid-season.
Put another way, Cabrera and Hannahan hit a total of six major league home runs between them from August 2, 2009 through October 2, 2010. They’ve now hit six since April 1st. This is the sort of beautifully absurd thing that makes baseball in April both wonderfully fun and full of hope for every single team and completely devoid of predictive value without context.
I like this particular group of Indians. I wouldn’t have picked them to do much before the season started, but looking closer now it’s easy to see how a full season of Carlos Santana and Matt LaPorta could add quite a bit to a lineup with Grady Sizemore (when he’s healthy), a resurgent Travis Hafner and the chronically underrated Shin-Soo Choo. They’ve got some interesting young arms to pair with Fausto Carmona (who’s only 27 himself) that could make for a decent pitching staff if things break right for them. But it’s hard to draw any conclusions at all when it’s still early enough for Jack Hannahan and Asdrubal Cabrera to have almost half of your team’s home runs.