Are the Indians ahead of schedule?

Top-tier hitting, improved pitching make Cleveland a postseason contender

Updated: August 19, 2013, 12:34 PM ET
By Paul Swydan | ESPN Insider

KazmirAP Photo/Gregory BullCleveland starter Scott Kazmir is pitching with a higher velocity than in past seasons.

The Cleveland Indians went on a run in May 2012 to jump into the top 10 in the ESPN Power Rankings. This year, the Indians went on a run in May to jump into the top 10 in the ESPN Power Rankings. The difference is what we're seeing now. In 2012, the Indians faded hard -- they didn't have a winning month after May, including an abominable 5-24 August. Though they're not exactly at the front of the American League wild-card race right now, they refuse to go away. Their odds on reaching the 2013 postseason remain slight, however their future heading into 2014 still looks bright.

Below you can see a graph depicting the Tribe's trip through the rankings in each of the past two seasons. The key here is July. During last July and August, Cleveland went 16-39 and nosedived into the bottom five of the rankings. So far in July and August this season, they are 22-20. They're not exactly lighting the world on fire, but they are hanging around.