Every member of the Indians organization greatly appreciates your continued loyalty and support, especially during the 2010 season. You are truly the foundation of this franchise. Because of you and our shared passion for winning, we spend every waking moment striving to provide championship baseball to you and to all of the fans of the Cleveland Indians.
Looking forward to the 2011 season, there are real and tangible reasons for optimism as we expect the results to improve significantly while we continue to develop and shape our group of talented, young players into impact Major Leaguers. Despite being the youngest pitching staff in baseball, our team ERA was 5th best in the American League in the second half of the season. Through his exceptional effort, Fausto Carmona re-established himself as a front-of-the-rotation Major League starter. Justin Masterson and Carlos Carrasco demonstrated they possess the size and stuff to attack any lineup in the American League. Mitch Talbot, Jeanmar Gomez, and Josh Tomlin established the ability to get Major League hitters out and provide starting alternatives for us as we head into next year.
As good as our starting rotation pitched in the second half, the bullpen pitched even better, posting the 4th best bullpen ERA in MLB in the second half of the season (2nd best in A.L.). Combining electric stuff and fearlessness, Chris Perez emerged as a legitimate closer and one of the best relievers in baseball in the 2nd half of the season. Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp, and Joe Smith highlight a group of returning relievers that contributed to form the core of a very successful pen.
In addition to our emerging pitching talent, this season we also had the fortune of watching Shin-Soo Choo evolve into one of the best and most complete players in the American League. While we were disappointed injuries cut short the season of two of our most exciting players-Grady Sizemore and Carlos Santana - we are confident they will be ready to reemerge as offensive threats next spring. Adding those two players to a lineup that includes Choo, Travis Hafner, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Brantley and Matt LaPorta will create an exciting line up for next season.
Along with our developing Major League talent, our minor league system remains strong, providing further optimism for our path to championship baseball. In 2010, Baseball America ranked the Indians Farm System as the 3rd best in baseball. Three minor league affiliates provided evidence of the depth and talent in our system with Columbus (AAA), Kinston (A) and Lake County (A) each reaching the postseason and both Columbus and Lake County winning their respective league championships. Pitchers such as Alex White, Jason Knapp, Corey Kluber, Vinnie Pestano and Zach Putnam and position players Cord Phelps, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Nick Weglarz are just a few names to remember. A solid farm system and strong drafts in recent years provide a foundation that positions this franchise for both short-term and long-term success.
Our direction is clear as we move forward as an organization. At every level of this franchise, we will continue to work tirelessly to provide championship baseball while delivering a superior fan experience to create lasting memories for you, your family, friends and business associates. We also remain committed to ensuring Progressive Field remains one of America's premier family-friendly sports venues.
More than ever, we recognize the need to deliver value to each of our loyal fans. In that spirit, we have aimed to create additional benefits for season ticket holders including reduced cost of season ticket plans for 2011, exclusive events and access, extended payment plans, and expanded exchange dates. I encourage you to check out your personalized e-brochure to learn all about the added benefits we have created for you for the 2011 MLB season. There is also a special message from our Manager Manny Acta that I know you will enjoy.
On behalf of our team - on and off the field - we appreciate your support of Indians Baseball and look forward to seeing you often at Progressive Field in 2011.
Mark A. Shapiro