Originally written on Burning River Baseball  |  Last updated 11/19/14
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The first week of Spring Training (2/22-2/27) has been full of surprises so far, leading to a precarious amount of optimism. The Indians won their first five games starting with an amazing comeback, walk-off win against the Reds on opening day. Offensively, the Indians have been extremely impressive and leading the way is Michael Brantley. Brantley has been hitting lower in the lineup than he is used to, but has excelled, by going 4-4 in his first two games with three doubles leading to an .833 batting average at present. Brantley has also been the owner of the most negative news to this point in the Spring as he lacerated his arm sliding into third base. He will miss up to two weeks, but should be back in plenty of time to get ready for the regular season. Ryan Rayburn has been the biggest surprise after he hit three home runs in the first two games and he currently leads the team in both runs and RBI. The Indians shouldn't take this too seriously as he hit 6 home runs with 19 RBI during Spring of 2012, but still ended up batting .171 with a single home run throughout the rest of the regular season. In general the offense has been hot, with 13 hitters still batting above .300. Since it is early in Spring, most starters are only playing for three or four innings before being replaced. This has lead to some unlikely stars like Rayburn and Mike McDade (the first baseman who hit the game winning double on Opening Day). Matt Carson, Juan Diaz, Ben Francisco, Carlos Moncrief and Jesus Aguilar have all impressed as well in multiple games. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Cedric Hunter has received more at bats than any other player and has not made the most of the opportunity (.083 AVG). With Brantley out, the Indians need an extra outfielder for these games, but it is likely to change to Tim Fedroff, Ben Francisco and Carson more often as the Spring goes on. The most impressive pitching outing thus far was a combined one hit shut out on Sunday against the Reds. That game included Zach McAllister, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Cody Allen, Jerry Gil, T.J. House and Preston Guilmet with only Rich Hill giving up a single hit. Besides that game, the final scores have shown a team that has absolutely no pitching, but this is not necessarily the case. While they have given up 10 runs in three separate games, 14 pitchers who have thrown at least two innings have yet to give up a run, including Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Trevor Bauer, David Huff, Scott Kazmir and Vinnie Pestano. In fact, 30 of the 43 runs allowed so far came against just six pitchers including Giovanni Soto who gave up five runs in a third of an inning on Opening Day. Overall things are definitely looking positive. The Indians have almost won more games in one week than they did all last Spring and they have won the Goodyear Ballpark series against Cincinnati by sweeping the first three games. With all that, don't get too excited as the first week of Spring Training is generally the least accurate predictor of the actual season. Seeing all those W's after the game should definitely help out morale in camp, though, helping mold this group of players thrown together into real team.
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