Despite low payroll, the Cleveland Guardians are MLB's best right now

Cleveland Guardians v Baltimore Orioles
Cleveland Guardians v Baltimore Orioles / Greg Fiume/GettyImages

The month of June is nearing its end, and the Cleveland Guardians are proving they are one of, if not the best team in Major League Baseball. Cleveland currently possesses the best record in the league based on winning percentage, holding a slight edge over the Philadelphia Phillies (0.004%). The Guardians are 25 games over .500 and are seeing their lead in the American League Central continue to grow. This is all happening despite having one of the lowest team payrolls in the sport.

As noted below, Cleveland has the 26th-ranked payroll this season, a far cry from the high payrolls that usually come with a team winning in the manner that the Guardians are currently. Luckily, having a high payroll does not guarantee that a team will be good or considered to be in the conversation for the best team in the sport, as Cleveland's performance thus far is clear proof of that.

Sporting a run differential of +107, the Guardians have the fourth-best mark in this department and only trail the MLB-leading Phillies by 11 entering play on Wednesday. Cleveland's high-scoring offense has certainly aided their cause, with their 392 runs ranking fifth overall, but it is their pitching staff that has done some heavy lifting.

With 285 runs allowed, the Guardians have allowed the second-fewest runs in baseball, four more than Philadelphia. This is quite an impressive feat, considering they are doing so without Shane Bieber and a rotation that features two starters with an ERA over 5.00. It has been Cleveland's bullpen performing at an incredibly high level that has allowed the team to survive some of the rougher outings from their starters.

Prior to yesterday's contest in Baltimore, the Guardians bullpen had a 1.59 ERA dating back to May 29th. Being able to turn the game over to a group of relievers that can shut down a lineup on a regular basis is a luxury that very few teams have, and it has made a major impact for Cleveland this season.

Over the years, the lack of spending by the organization has been a major talking point that has been talked about far too often. However, it appears that their risk-averse approach over the past few seasons is going to pay off. Having one of the lower payrolls in the sport with a team that is playing this well gives the front office some flexibility when it comes to the upcoming trade deadline.

With an expectation of being aggressive, it could mean they are willing to make a move that will help them capitalize on their open contention window. The team can afford to add to their payroll by taking on more salary at this time, and this is not something that applies league-wide. Having this combination should result in being able to add a quality player at the deadline that only could have been considered a dream scenario before the season started. 

At this point in the season, it is abundantly clear that this Guardians team is genuinely good. They continue to pass each test they face with flying colors, and this is a team that is going to find a way to get better through acquisitions at the deadline. Sit back and enjoy the ride, as the Guardians have quickly moved passed being considered a scrappy underdog story to now being one of the teams to beat. It will not be long before they find themselves being discussed as World Series contenders if they haven't been already.