Cleveland Guardians continue their historic start to their 2024 campaign

The Cleveland Guardians just became only the fourth team since 1901 to hit certain marks and are the only franchise to do it twice.
Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Guardians
Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Guardians / Mike Lawrie/GettyImages

The offense of the Cleveland Guardians is off to a red-hot start to the 2024 campaign. That's no secret. But the heights that this team is reaching in the early going are nearly unmated and shouldn't go unnoticed. Since 1901, the Cleveland Guardians are just the fourth team in Major League Baseball history to post a run differential of +36 or higher, tally 94+ hits, and steal 10+ bases through the first 10 games of a season. The rest of the list? The 1999 Cleveland Indians/Guardians, the 1932 New York Yankees, and the 1901 Chicago White Sox.

Let's start with the team we're watching now. A year that was expected to be greeted with growing pains has turned into quite the debut for new manager Stephen Vogt. It was made a focal point from the start that the team was going to be aggressive on the base paths, so the stolen bases aren't much of a surprise. The rest of the stats most definitely are.

To put some things into perspective, the Cleveland Guardians are currently averaging 9.4 hits per game. Last year, the team averaged 8.5 hits per game. That might not seem like a huge jump, but in 2023, only the Texas Rangers (9.0) and Atlanta Braves (9.5) averaged nine or more hits per game. Now, the run differential is even more reassuring. Only 13 teams last year had a positive run differential (the Cleveland Guardians were not one of them). Of those 13, only three didn't make the playoffs -- the Padres, Mariners, and Cubs.

Needless to say, what the Guardians are doing in the early stages of the 2024 season is promising. You have to have strong pitching and hitting for a positive run differential, and the aggressive base running can make any situation interesting.

But how does this Guardians team stack up with the other four that have hit this milestone since 1901?

For starters, we're flashing it back to 1999 in Cleveland, Ohio. A packed Jacobs Field cheered the club on each game, posting a 97-65 record, finishing first in the AL Central but falling to Boston in the ALDS. On the positive, the lineup was nearly unstoppable. Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez and Robero Alomar at the dish. The combo of Einar Diaz and Sandy Alomar behind the plate. On the mound? Bartolo Colon, Dave Burba, Charles Nagy, and some guy named Dwight Gooden, even if it was post-prime. After the strong start, Cleveland finished third in the league for hits (1,629), averaging 10.1 per game, and finished the season with a +149 run differential and 147 stolen bases, seventh in the league. Pretty solid season.

Next on the list, 1932 New York. '99 was good to Cleveland, but '32 was better to New York. Well, at least at Yankee Stadium it was. Not only was there a World Series title for the Yanks in '32, but a sweep in the series and a 107-47-2 overall record. Get ready for these names -- Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Gomez, and Red Ruffing. Ruth and Gehrig combined for 75 home runs, while Ben Chapman stole 38 bases. At the end of the season, New York averaged 10.0 hits per game, finished fourth in stolen bases, and finished with a whopping +278 run differential.

Our last stop on the historic trip, the 1901 Chicago White Sox. Another Pennant claimed by a team on the list, finishing with an 83-53-1 record. I'll admit, the names aren't as recognizable now, but the stats still read the same. Every player in the starting lineup stole at least 12 bases, including Frank Isbell's 52, and the fewest hits by a non-catcher starter was 104. As a team, the Southside Sox averaged a "measly" 9.5 hits per game, which was below league average that season, stole a league-leading 280 bases, and posted a run differential of +188.

So, what does history tell us for Cleveland?

The reality is nothing, but that isn't any fun. The Shane Bieber injury changes Cleveland's story this season, and maybe this is all beginner's luck for Vogt. Although, it wasn't for Clark Griffith in 1901, the only other rookie manager (and the only other one in their first year with that team) on the list. There are a lot of variables yet to be uncovered. But, like I said, that's not any fun.

If history can get our hopes up, and in Cleveland, it easily does, the 2024 season should be exciting at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Teams that had similar starts not only maintained but improved offensively through the season by bringing the hits per game number up. No matter the era, stolen bases remained key, and from there, the run differential takes care of itself.

When it's all said and done, will the 2024 Cleveland Guardians make the ALDS? Win a pennant? The World Series? We can only hope. The path has been drawn by teams before with similar stories to start a season, but there is a longer season ahead. Cleveland has more games remaining than the 1901 White Sox played in totality. But maybe, just maybe, this is the start of an incredibly special run at Progressive Field.