Every year a few Major League Baseball teams never cease to amaze me.
I’m not talking about clubs that are filled with stars on their rosters or even automatic playoff contenders. The thing I love most about baseball is the small market teams that somehow make noise at the beginning of every year. Some fans will call them “Cinderella Stories.” Some analysts will break them down as contenders or pretenders — not understanding the real story behind their rises to the top.
A perfect example of this type of team with more believers on it than star athletes that a lot of people would know was the Oakland Athletics of the early 2000s. However, even those clubs, which had extremely low payrolls, still had big bats and names that made them competitive.
When I look at this year’s group of teams that might fit into that category, three stick out like sore thumbs and are right in the mix to win their respective divisions. We often write these sorts of teams off and don’t believe in them down the stretch, but hey, they sure make the game exciting. So here’s a look at three clubs that are in second place and leaving baseball fans scratching their heads:
For the second year in a row, the Tribe is earning pre All-Star Game hype and should perhaps challenge the Chicago Whitesox for an AL Central crown if all goes well. Last season Cleveland flopped after starting the 2011 campaign with a stellar 30-15 record in its first 45 games. Injuries ended up throwing the Indians out of contention, but now they have came roaring back. And when any fan examines the roster, the first question they would have to ask is, ‘how?’ (more…)