Indians Bringing Home the Hardware During Annual Awards
Bob Toth | On 11, Nov 2017
While the Indians did not get to play as deep into October as fans may have hoped, the efforts of the Cleveland players have been recognized numerous times during the annual November award season in Major League Baseball.
Friday marked just such a night as free agent Carlos Santana was named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year among all Major League first basemen.
The Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award is determined by a strictly mathematical formula, eliminating human bias from the mix. It uses a combination of defensive wins above replacement (25 percent), defensive runs saved (25 percent), Inside Edge fielding ratings (20 percent), Inside Edge arm ratings (20 percent), and fielding percentage (10 percent) to determine a winner.
Colorado had three winners for the award, including pitcher Tyler Chatwood, second baseman DJ LeMahieu, and third baseman Nolan Arenado. The Los Angeles Angels had a pair of winners, including Gold Glove winners Martin Maldonado (catcher) and Andrelton Simmons (shortstop). Outfielders Alex Gordon (Kansas City), Byron Buxton (Minnesota), and Yasiel Puig (Los Angeles Dodgers) rounded out the award recipients. Buxton was selected as the game’s Overall Defensive Player of the Year and the Dodgers were picked as the Defensive Team of the Year.
Santana became the first Indians player to win the award since voting was reduced to an overall MLB award. In the first two years of the award, when individual league winners were picked, Jason Kipnis (2012 at second base) and Yan Gomes (2013 at catcher) were selected.
Santana’s win did not, however, right the wrong that was committed several days earlier, when he was denied a Rawlings Gold Glove Award for his defensive growth at first base. The honor was instead given to Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer for the fourth time in the last five seasons. The mass majority of defensive metrics and statistics available indicated that Santana performed as the far superior first baseman over the course of the season and that Hosmer was, in fact, not even among the top to play his position statistically over the 2017 campaign.
The Indians had four players who finished in the top three of the Gold Glove Award voting this season, but the group failed to bring home a win. Catcher Gomes, shortstop Francisco Lindor, and third baseman Jose Ramirez were also among the finalists at their respective positions this season. The Indians have just one winner (Lindor last season) since the 2008 voting.
While Lindor and Ramirez were denied awards for their work with the glove, the duo was recognized on Thursday for their prowess with the bat. Both were selected as American League winners of the Silver Slugger Award at their respective positions.
Lindor broke out the power bat during the 2017 season, leading all Major League shortstops in home runs during the year with 33. He was tops among AL shortstops in OPS (.842) and added in a .273/.337/.505 triple slash with 44 doubles over the course of the season. He lost out on the Gold Glove Award to the Angels’ Simmons, who was a leader by plenty in some key defensive numbers.
Ramirez, who saw nearly as much game activity at second base as he did third base, was selected as the hot corner’s representative for the league. Ramirez led all Major Leaguers with 56 doubles, a total that landed him third on the Indians’ all-time single season production list (trailing Tris Speaker’s 59 in 1923 and George Burns’ 64 in 1926).
Ramirez was more than just a doubles hitter, however, as with his six triples and 29 homers, he matched the extra base hit total of Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton (91), who led baseball in homers on the year. Ramirez was also consistently among the game’s leading hitters and finished the year with a .318/.374/.583 slash.
The pair became the first Indians to win Silver Slugger Awards for Cleveland in the same season since Gomes and Michael Brantley in 2014. It marked just the ninth time in franchise history that the team has done so and just the third since the power hitting days of the ‘90’s ended. The awards were first given in 1980 by legendary bat makers, Louisville Slugger.
On Wednesday, starting pitcher Corey Kluber took one step closer to bringing home a second Cy Young Award when he was selected as the American League’s Outstanding Pitcher in the Players Choice Awards.
Voting was done on September 19, but Kluber had already made a strong case for the 26th annual edition of the Players Choice Award voting by then. He was joined by Max Scherzer (Washington) as the National League’s recipient of the hardware. Oftentimes, the selection is a precursor of things to come for the top pitching award in baseball, but when Kluber won the Cy Young in 2014, he lost out to Seattle’s Felix Hernandez in what is still considered a close vote.
Despite missing a month of action early in the season, Kluber still finished the year among the league leaders in all of the primary pitching statistics. He was 18-4 on the season with a 2.25 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP in 203 2/3 innings of work. He struck out 265 and walked just 36 on the year, good for a MLB-leading 7.36 strikeout/walk ratio. He led baseball in wins, ERA, ERA+, WHIP, and strikeouts/walks. His winning percentage, hit/9, and walk/9 rates were all tops in the AL. He was an All-Star for the second time in his career during the season.
The coming week remains a big week for several Tribe players as the second wave of November awards are announced. The Rookie of the Year Awards will be announced on Monday before Terry Francona looks to bring home another Manager of the Year award on Tuesday against Houston’s A.J. Hinch and Minnesota’s Paul Molitor. The Cy Young winners will be announced on Wednesday night, with Kluber a top pick against Boston’s Chris Sale and New York’s Luis Severino. On Thursday night, the MVP Awards will be announced, with Ramirez expected to be on the outside of the battle between Houston’s Jose Altuve and New York’s Aaron Judge.
The final wave of awards will come on Friday with the annual Esurance MLB Awards. The Indians have a handful of personnel up for consideration that night, including Best Play, Defense (Austin Jackson), Best Executive (Chris Antonetti), Personality of the Year (Lindor), Best Postseason Moment (Lindor), and Best Call, TV/Radio (Tom Hamilton).
Photo: Ron Schwane/Getty Images