One of the biggest surprises of the MLB season was the Cleveland Guardians’ game.
We never expected this team to make the playoffs this year let alone make a run for their division crown.
But, with the Chicago White Sox underperforming, the Guardians took advantage.
According to PicksWise, the Guardians entered the season with +850 chances to win the AL Central.
Now, with just 43 games left, Cleveland has a one-game lead over the Minnesota Twins in the divisional race.
Their odds of winning the division even jumped to +120.
This season was such a surprise as many thought Cleveland was in rebuilding mode after trading Francisco Lindor.
They left Lindor ahead of the 2021 season for a package around Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario.
Two names that have a significant impact on the Guardians this season.
Gimenez was named in his first All-Star game this season, batting .313 with 14 homers, 58 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.
Rosario was one of baseball’s top prospects before struggling in his early seasons in New York.
Now in Cleveland, he has begun to flourish.
The 26-year-old is hitting a .286 with 69 runs scored and seven league-leading seven triples.
Another new name with big attacking impact is Steven Kwan.
The rookie outfielder has thrown himself into consideration for Rookie of the Year thanks to his elite contact skills.
He is hitting .301 with 119 hits and 43 walks for 42 strikeouts.
Kwan even has nine defensive points recorded in the outfield, which ranks tied for seventh among all MLB outfielders.
Despite the success of all these new players in Cleveland, the one key cog in their roster remains.
That’s All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez.
AL 2022 Batting War Leaders:
Judge Aaron (7.0)
Yordan Alvarez (4.9)
Andres Gimenez (4.5)
Jose Ramirez (4.3)
All leaders: https://t.co/kv5EXbeoGg pic.twitter.com/X43prZKNuH
– Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) August 15, 2022
Ramirez continues to be one of the most underrated players in all of baseball.
The perennial MVP candidate is hitting .283 with 23 home runs and 93 RBIs.
He also leads the majors in doubles with 37.
The Guardians have always managed to find quality pitchers.
It’s no different this year.
Shane Bieber had a great rebound season.
The former Cy Young winner pitched 138.2 innings with 140 strikeouts.
But, the best staff pitcher this season has been 25-year-old Triston McKenzie.
The right-hander is coming off a seven inning, 14 strikeout game against the Chicago White Sox.
A NEW CAREER TOP 🔥
Triston McKenzie struck out 14 in seven innings 💪
— Sports Center (@SportsCenter) August 20, 2022
For the season, he has a 3.11 ERA and is 11th among all AL starters in WAR.
Overall, these staff have the fifth-lowest ERA in the American League.
A name that has not even been mentioned is closer to Emmanuel Clase.
The right-handed flamethrower has been the Guardians’ elite all year.
His 28 saves lead the AL and he has a 1.22 ERA.
Any team vying for the playoffs needs to have a good bullpen and that’s exactly what the Guardians have.
The race for the AL Central title will be played on the wire.
If the Guardians can continue to use their formula to win games, they have a chance to not only win the AL Central, but also make some noise in the playoffs.