The Guardians’ brand of baseball has them on verge of playoff spot

The Guardians squad has been transformed in a relatively short space of time, and yet it’s a group of players who are confident in who they are and how they want to play the game.

And all of that has put them on the doorstep of an unlikely divisional crown in 2022.

With the youngest roster in baseball – younger than some Triple-A clubs in the league – the Guardians have formed a cohesive group that not only avoided a meltdown during their first playoff push, but excelled when it counted .

The Guardians have won 14 of their last 16 games with Friday’s 6-3 win over Texas Rangers. Their magic number is down to three, making it possible for the division title to be won on this road trip and before the team returns home for a nine-game home game to wrap up the regular season.

Last week Chicago White Sox shortstop Elvis Andrus said he knew the Guardians would eventually “collapse”. Last week, the Guardians rolled into Chicago and beat the White Sox 22-11 en route to a three-game sweep that effectively ended the American League Central Division race.

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On the pitching side, the Guardians’ player development is arguably second to none in baseball. Shane Bieber had an ace-like season, navigating a drop in speed to still perform at Bieber-like highs. Triston McKenzie has matured into a top-notch starting pitcher. The bullpen was arguably the best baseball since the All-Star break, anchored by All-Star Emmanuel Clase and bolstered by strong contributions from Trevor Stephan, James Karinchak, Sam Hentges, Eli Morgan and Nick Sandlin.

Offensively, it can be summed up in two ways: contact and base run. The Guardians have built an elite lineup in both categories, exceeding outside expectations on several fronts.

The Guardians lead baseball with an 80.9 percent contact rate. The closet team for her, the Houston Astros, is at 78.6 percent. The difference between the Guardians and second place is bigger than the difference between 2nd and 17th place.

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The Guardians have four of the top 20 AL hitters in terms of contact rate: Steven Kwan (2nd, 92.1 percent), Myles Straw (4th, 89.3), Jose Ramirez (11th, 86.6) and Amed Rosario (20th, 81.5). They are the only four-racquet team in the top 20.

On the base trails, the Guardians competed first in the American League and fourth in baseball Friday night, with 265 instances of runners advancing from first to third with a single, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers (285), the St .Louis Cardinals (271). and San Diego Padres (266). They are also third with 105 stolen bases.

Aggressiveness and a high level of commitment on the baseways has been a focus for manager Terry Francona this spring. He said from day one that it would be the style of baseball the Guardians would need to play in order to be successful. The players followed this message.

And in doing so, the Guardians have played a more traditional offensive style that relies on getting the ball in play and aggressive baserunning more than any other team in the game today. It’s become her brand and in a few days will likely secure her first AL Central title since 2018.

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“I think we take a lot of the pressure off with the way we play,” pitcher Shane Bieber said recently. “Amed just brought it up, we play a high-energy, exciting and fun brand of baseball. We bring the same energy with us day after day. It’s really just a lot of fun to be a part of when you come into the stadium and there’s a certain aura that everyone expects to go out there and do their job and win. It’s a lot of fun to be apart of it now.

Ryan Lewis can be reached at [email protected] Read more about the Guardians at Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.

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