Indians Decade in Review: Optimism and a hot start in 2011

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Indians
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The first positive is the obvious one. The 30-15 start. The team went 18-8 in April and 14-12 in May. Then came sub-.500 months in both June and July to bring the Indians back to expected levels.

In the midst of all the ups and downs, Carlos Santana became an everyday player at catcher and finished the year with 27 home runs and a .351 on-base percentage. His home runs led the team and his OBP was second behind Travis Hafner, though the slugger only played in 94 games. Santana was also second in slugging percentage at .457. Asdrubal Cabrera finished at .460.

The team was still trying to compete in July and that was something to smile about. The evidence came in the form of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade that saw the Indians send Alex White and Drew Pomeranz to Colorado. Jimenez’s 5.10 ERA in Cleveland falls more in the negative category.

Justin Masterson was the ace in 2011, finishing with a record of 12-10 and a 3.21 ERA. As fans may also recall, the bullpen started to earn a persona in 2011 with the breakout performances of Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, and Chris Perez. Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez also had great seasons. All five finished with ERAs below 3.33 and Smith led the group at 2.01.

Yet in a season when it became clear the Indians weren’t contenders the one true positive was getting to see Jim Thome in an Indians uniform one last time. He joined the Indians in August and returned as a hero. He hit .296/.390/.479 in 22 games and even launched three home runs to add to his career total.

A young outfielder named Michael Brantley even appeared in 114 games and was fourth among position players in WAR. The team got a lot of production from the guys making the least amount of money.