Cleveland Indians: 60 games in, is this season better or worse than last?

Members of the Cleveland Indians celebrate (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Members of the Cleveland Indians celebrate (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
Cleveland Indians, Bobby Bradley
Bobby Bradley #44 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

60 games in, is this season better or worse than last year for the Cleveland Indians?

The 2021 Major League Baseball season for the Cleveland Indians has officially reached 60 games, matching the entirety of the shortened 2020 campaign. While there’s 102 games left to be played this season, how does this year stack up against last year through 60 games?

When comparing the two seasons, it’s a bit hard to tell if this season is better or worse to this point. In reality, it’s almost dead even. The team is doing better in some areas and worse in others, but in the grand scheme of things the Tribe are about on pace for how they finished up the 2020 season.

We’ll start with the simple things. In terms of record, the 2020 squad was just a bit better, posting a 35-25 record for a .583 winning percentage. As for this year, through 60 games Cleveland is just a couple games below last year’s mark at 33-27 for a .550 winning percentage. The difference isn’t all that much, so while the 2020 season was a bit better in terms of record through 60 games this year is pretty close.

Moving on into the standings, it’s more of the same for the Tribe. Despite having a better record through 60 games last year, this year’s team is technically higher in the standings. In 2020, Cleveland posted the same record as the Chicago White Sox, but tiebreakers bumped the Tribe down to third. Right now, Cleveland is second in the AL Central.

There is a catch to that. Last year’s third place finish was just one game out of first place in the division. This year’s second place standing is 4.5 games out of first. So while this season is higher in the standings, last year’s probably had the better shot at winning division, making this somewhat of a push.

Alright, playoffs. Last year’s playoff picture was expanded, allowing the Tribe to get a Wild Card berth. However, this year is reverting back to the normal setup so instead of who’s in and who’s out of the playoffs, we’ll shift to the American League standings.

The 2020 season concluded with a fifth place standing in the American League, being 18-12 at home and 17-13 on the road while trailing the Tampa Bay Rays for the top spot in the league by five games. The 2021 season is once again near identical.

The 2021 Cleveland Indians are just a spot lower at sixth in the AL and have been 15-12 at home and 18-15 on the road while trailing the Tampa Bay Rays for the top spot in the league by five games.

Records and standings only show so much and can depend a lot on the opponents faced, so what about the team’s statistics? Well, they aren’t all that different either.

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The 2021 team has scored 250 runs so far this season while slashing .226/.296/.390 with 70 home runs and 90 doubles. As for the 2020 group, they scored 248 runs with a slash line of .228/.317/.372 with 59 home runs and 96 doubles.

What that boils down to is that while the 2020 team was better at the plate, albeit not by much, the 2021 team has been able to tally just a couple more runs thanks in large part to a better power presence in the batter’s box. However, the major difference between the two teams is on the mound.

The pitching staff for the 2021 team currently holds an ERA of 4.10 due to allowing 238 earned runs over 522.2 innings. They’ve also been able to strike out 575 batters, but have issued 219 walks while logging a total of 18 saves. Among AL teams, the Tribe rank first in hits allowed with 447, but are third or below in all other categories.

The 2020 Cleveland Indians posted better numbers across the board on the bump. The team’s ERA sat at an AL-best 3.29, allowing an AL-best 196 runs over 536 innings. The staff also struck out an AL-best 621 batters and walked an AL-best 157 while logging 20 saves, which was second in the AL.

Notice the trend? Last year’s staff was clearly the best in the American League, if not all of baseball. This year’s has left a lot to be desired, but despite those struggles the team is still rather on pace with last year.

Through 60 games, this year’s pitching staff has given up 42 more runs, walked 62 more batters and struck out 46 fewer outs. Yet, somehow, this 2021 team has managed to be just two games below last year’s mark. That could be a testament to how great last year’s pitching was. It could be a sign that the offense is improving. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.

The point is that through 60 games, the 2021 Cleveland Indians are in a near identical place as the 2020 squad. Some areas are better, some areas are worse. The positive is that last year’s team made the postseason. This year’s team is knocking on the door if the season ended today, which if this were last season, it would have.

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