The Cleveland Indians lost the American League Division Series about a month ago, and it still is a disappointment, not in the team, but considering how well the Tribe was playing going into the post-season, we all fantasized about winning the World Series.
That feeling should not make everyone overlook the fact the Indians won 102 games, the second highest total in franchise history and had the best record in the American League.
They have four finalists for the Gold Glove. SS Francisco Lindor is trying to win his second in a row, and he is joined by Jose Ramirez at third base, Carlos Santana at first, and Yan Gomes behind the plate in finishing in the top three in the voting.
Yesterday, more accolades came the Indians’ way.
Terry Francona is a finalist for AL Manager of the Year, an award he has won twice before, in 2013 and 2016.
Jose Ramirez is second Tribesman in the last four years (Michael Brantley in 2014) to finish in the top three of the MVP voting. Ramirez had a remarkable season, setting career highs in every major statistical category save for stolen bases.
However, the highest honor will probably go to Corey Kluber. Kluber should become the first Indian pitcher to win two Cy Young Awards during his tenure with the Indians, capping a season in which he went 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA and 265 strikeouts in 203 innings.
He would be the 19th pitcher in the history of the award (started in 1956) to win it multiple times.
It will also mean that Kluber will have finished in the top three for this award three times, finishing third a year ago.
There are four dominant starting pitchers in the sport right now: Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, and Kluber.
In the past four years, the right-hander has led in the AL in wins twice (’14 and ’17), in complete games twice (’15 and ’17), in shutouts the past two seasons, and in ERA this past campaign.
He has finished in the top four in strikeouts each of the past four seasons, and has ranked first or second in pitchers’ WAR in three of the past four years.
Kluber’s career WAR total (according to BaseballReference.com) is now at 26.9. Consider the franchise’s all time leaders among pitchers in this category:
Bob Feller 63
Stan Coveleski 51
Bob Lemon 48
Mel Harder 43
Addie Joss 43
Sam McDowell 41
Early Wynn 39
George Uhle 37
Wes Farrell 36
Willis Hudlin 33
With a season with a WAR of six next season (that was Kluber’s 2016 season), he would tie Hudlin for the 10th highest total in club history. And he would have done it in a five year span.
It would not be a reach for Kluber to wind up as high as 4th in Tribe history among hurlers, behind the Indians’ Hall of Fame triumvirate of Feller, Coveleski, and Lemon.
If he wins in 2017, keep in mind there are only nine pitchers (could be a 10th if Scherzer wins this year) to win three or more Cy Youngs.
And those pitchers are a who’s who of the greatest pitchers in the last 60 years: Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux, Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, Jim Palmer, Tom Seaver, and Kershaw.
He won’t turn 32 until early next season (April 10th).
That’s a historical perspective on Kluber, who will find out next week if he will be recognized once again as the best pitcher in the AL.
It’s been a remarkable four years indeed.