- Paul Swydan, ESPN Insider
Last season the Cleveland Indians hit well, but they were one of the worst teams in the game defensively. So this offseason they made a number of changes designed to make their defense better, which in the short-term seemed to have worked very well. But the bonus thus far is that their offense has been a house afire as well. The team ripped off a six-game win streak this week, and as a result moved up nine spots in the ESPN Power Rankings, from No. 25 to No. 16.
The team's offense has been really carrying the water thus far, and it's been led by catcher Carlos Santana and first baseman/designated hitter Mark Reynolds. Both have been pleasant surprises. Santana, now in his age-27 season, has come up lacking in the batting average on balls in play department in his brief major league career, and as a result had never posted a great batting average -- his best mark before this year was his .260 average in his abbreviated 2010 rookie campaign. That has changed in a big way.
Following Sunday's action, his average was a robust .379 -- only reigning Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera is hitting better. It's not likely to continue, as Santana's current .443 BABIP is well above what you would expect from a player with his hitting profile, but even if his BABIP levels off, this could still be a banner year.
The Cleveland Indians are rising thanks to offensive success from unlikely sources, writes Paul Swydan. He focuses specifically on catcher Carlos Santana, who is batting .379 with a .443 BABIP this season.