High praise hardly a surprise for the Cleveland Guardians

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Guardians
Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Guardians / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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The 2024 MLB season has passed the midway point, and the Cleveland Guardians have clearly established themselves as one of the best teams in the sport. With a 53-30 record and a six-game lead over the second-place Minnesota Twins, they have proven that 2023 was a fluke and are a team poised to contend this season. With that in mind, it is no surprise to see them be the recipients of a high grade for their performance this season.

Bleacher Report's Zachary D. Rymer has given the Guardians an "A" grade in Assigning Grades for Every MLB Team Halfway Through 2024 Season. Cleveland was one of three teams to get this grade, with the "A+" of the Philadelphia Phillies being the only team fairing better. This is pretty good company to be in and one that very few expected when the season began.

Looking specifically at other teams in the division, the Kansas City Royals' B+ is the closest team to Cleveland's, with the B- of the Minnesota Twins not far behind. But there is a clear difference between the Guardians and these teams, as Rymer would note Cleveland's lack of runners left on base and bullpen as two factors in their success this season.

"With a league-low 490 men left on base, they're not in the habit of stranding baserunners. And their Emmanuel Clase-led bullpen is terrifying, as it boasts the lowest ERA of any bullpen by half a run."

Zachary D. Rymer on the Guardians

When a team is able to limit stranded base runners and have a very effective bullpen, they are going to be hard to beat on a consistent basis, and that is what the Guardians have managed to do so far this season. There is a reason why Cleveland is currently in first place in the American League Central, and it is not an accident. They have managed to put last year's struggles behind them and retake their rightful place atop the AL Central.