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Cleveland Indians offense getting the job done despite not having any stars

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Does this qualify as a blue collar offense? I've never been clear on the exact criteria.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Don't look now, but the Cleveland Indians have a pretty good offense. Not a great one, but pretty good. They are third in the American League in stolen bases, and lead the AL in the base running component of WAR at FanGraphs, so that side of things is clearly going well, but looking at the hitting, nothing really jumps out. They're not among the top six for batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, or isolated power. They're also not among the bottom six in anything, though, and by not being bad at anything, the Tribe offense has collectively been... pretty good. They're tied for sixth in the AL in wRC+.

At times during the last couple years when the Indians were even better in wRC+, many fans understandably pointed out that the offense needs to score runs, and a good wRC+ wasn't really leading to many runs. While simply looking at runs leaves out a lot of nuance, I understand the urge. If that's how you feel, though, pretty good isn't a strong enough descriptor for the Tribe offense so far; you'd have to describe them as really good, because at 4.76 runs per game, they're third in the AL.

The Boston Red Sox, who lead the league in scoring (5.96) by more than a full run per game, have a number of players posting huge numbers at the plate thus far, as you'd expect. David Ortiz leads them with a wRC+ of 190, and five of their ten players with the most plate appearances thus far have a wRC+ of 125 or better. The MSeattle Mariners are second in scoring (4.78). They've been led by Robinson Cano (wRC+ of 157), and four of their ten most-involved players have a wRC+ of 125 or better.

The Indians, meanwhile, don't have a single regular with a wRC+ of 125 or better. Instead, they're led by Carlos Santana (121). I wonder how many teams have ever finished in the top three in runs per game without anyone putting up All-Star numbers on offense.

How are they doing it? By avoiding many dead spots in the lineup. Eight of the ten players with the most PA for the Indians so far this season have a wRC+ of 90 or better, which is more than any other AL team can claim, including Boston. Yan Gomes has been a mess, and Juan Uribe hasn't been the solution to the Tribe's third base troubles, but everyone else who's playing regularly is putting up at least something close to average numbers. Without many easy outs in the lineup, the Indians have scored a lot of runs by never really letting up. Santana and Francisco Lindor have done the most damage, but everyone has had their nights.

One way to look at all this is to believe the scoring is unsustainable without better overall production, but it's not as though a wRC+ that ranks sixth in the league can't be one of the top three scorers. Just last season the Rangers scored the third-most runs while tying for tenth in wRC+. That said, there's a pretty good correlation between wRC+ and scoring, so if the wRC+ stays where it is, the scoring probably will fall off a bit.

No one is going to mistake this group for the 1995 lineup, but they've quietly been a lot more effective than a lot of people are giving them credit for, and that's despite Michael Brantley (the team's best hitter over the last couple years), having only played in 11 games, and not having looked himself in those contests either. If he makes it back to 100%, his return should provide a big boost to the offense, which might allow the scoring to stay where it's at.

Fresh off taking three of four from the first-place Chicago White Sox in Chicago, the Indians are only half a game back, and have the fifth-best scoring differential in all of Major League Baseball I know a lot of us have a hard time not waiting for the other show to drop, but try your best to accept that the Tribe has a pretty good offense, and has been playing very good baseball.