Guardians slighted in recent lineup rankings

Cleveland Guardians v Los Angeles Angels
Cleveland Guardians v Los Angeles Angels / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages
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The Cleveland Guardians have been one of the best stories in baseball this season, compiling a 44-23 record on the year and currently sitting atop the American League Central Division. Cleveland currently holds a six-game lead over second-place Kansas City and is in prime position to continue adding onto that as the season progresses. Despite all of this, the Guardians still find themselves being slighted when it comes to evaluating their lineup.

Bleacher Report's Tim Kelly recently put together his Ranking All 30 MLB Lineups in June, and there was an interesting order of teams just outside the top five. The Guardians find themselves ranked seventh, which really is not that hard to argue with on the surface. This is a good lineup with a pitching staff that has been able to overachieve somewhat, considering their current group and expected pitching lines on a game-by-game basis. The problem lies with the teamthat isranked one spot ahead of them. Kansas City. 

Somehow, the Royals have managed to garner favor here in this ranking, appearing one spot ahead of the Guardians. This is quite a choice by Kelly, as the Guardians have a better record, in addition to holding a +33 advantage in the run differential department. Sure, the Royals have scored nine more runs this season, but they have needed four more games to do so. Meanwhile, their pitching staff has given up 42 more runs than Cleveland's. These are two very important areas that seem to have been dismissed for some reason when this ranking was put together.

For as much concern that exists about the Guardians' sustainability and need to add a bat or two to their lineup, as well as at least one starter, the feel-good underdog story of the Royals' early season success appears to have resulted in an incorrect ranking over Cleveland. This is quite confusing, considering that they have more holes in their lineup and have experienced some big-time regression in the form of a 6-12 record over their past 18 games. Meanwhile, Cleveland has the opposite record during that span (12-6).

It is completely understandable for people to be excited about the Royals finally exiting their multi-year rebuild as a team looking to put their streak of seven straight losing seasons behind them. But when it comes to properly assessing the competitive state of a team, separating the contenders from the pretenders, Kansas City belongs in the latter group, while the Guardians are clearly in the former. With that in mind, it will not be long before a future lineup ranking has these teams ranked correctly, with Cleveland's spot being reflective of their record rather than being subject to unjust criticism for no reason whatsoever.