For the second time in four seasons, Cleveland’s Corey Kluber has been selected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America as the American League’s Cy Young Award winner.
The second time might not have been quite as sweet for Kluber, but it came with far less drama than the first time that he won the award in a tight contest with Seattle’s Felix Hernandez in 2014, decided by ten points. Unfortunately for Kluber and his Tribe teammates, much like the season when the Cleveland ace won his first award, the Indians spent the bulk of October as spectators of baseball instead of playing for a championship.
“Regardless of how tonight went, whether I would’ve finished first, second, third, whatever it be, 2017 is in the past,” shared Kluber after the announcement during media availability on Wednesday night. “I’m looking forward to 2018. I’ve been back in the gym for a while now, and I think that my full focus is on trying to put myself in a position to try to help the Tribe win a World Series.”
Kluber received 28 of 30 first place votes (204 points total) in his near unanimous decision over Boston’s Chris Sale, who spent much of the season as the favorite for the award before Kluber closed the gap in a handful of pitching categories down the stretch. Sale (126 points) received the other two first place votes as well as 28 second place votes.
It may come as little surprise that Sale’s first place votes came from two key locations on the map. The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato and CBSChicago.com’s Bruce Levine were the only two to give the edge to Sale. Sale’s big league career started in Chicago before he was traded to Boston prior to the 2017 campaign.
New York’s Luis Severino finished third in the voting, while Kluber’s teammate Carlos Carrasco finished fourth. Justin Verlander rounded out the top five in the voting, eleven points in back of Carrasco. Reliever Craig Kimbrel (Boston) and starting pitchers Ervin Santana (Minnesota) and Marcus Stroman (Toronto) also received votes in third, fourth, or fifth place.
Kluber and Sale were the only two pitchers to be named across all 30 ballots. Two writers from each city in the league are selected to vote prior to the postseason and they pick their top five hurlers. Seven points are awarded for first place votes, four points for second, three points for third, two points for fourth, and one point for fifth place finishes.
Kluber becomes the first pitcher in Indians history to win the Cy Young Award twice and is the 19th pitcher overall to do so. Gaylord Perry was the first to receive the honor in 1972. Left-handers CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee won the award in consecutive seasons in 2007 and 2008.
The ever stoic Kluber thanked those around him for keeping him healthy enough to make it through the 162-game regular season grind.
“It’s a huge honor to win,” said Kluber. “It was an honor the first time and it’s an honor the second time. I guess that more than anything, I think for me, this kind of shows what other people in the organization have been able to do on my behalf.”
The 31-year-old right-hander finished the 2017 season with an 18-4 record, a 2.25 ERA, and a 0.87 WHIP. The seventh-year big leaguer made 29 starts over the course of the year after missing nearly all of May. The lost starts during the second month of the season may have been the only thing standing in the way of his shot at the pitching Triple Crown.
How good was Kluber’s season?
- He led MLB with a 2.25 ERA.
- He led MLB with a 202 ERA+.
- He led MLB with a 0.87 WHIP.
- He led MLB with a 7.36 strikeout/walk rate.
- He led MLB with 50 adjusted pitching runs.
- He led MLB with an adjusted pitching wins total of 5.4.
- He led MLB with 157 home strikeouts.
- He led MLB with an 8.0 bWAR for pitchers.
- He led MLB with 24.4% soft contact.
- He led MLB with a win probability added of 4.26.
- He was tied for the MLB lead with 18 wins.
- He was tied for the AL and MLB lead with five complete games.
- He was tied for the AL and MLB lead with three complete game shutouts.
- He led the AL and was second in MLB with a 6.23 hit/nine innings rate.
- He led the AL and was second in MLB with a .193 batting average against.
- He led the AL and was second in MLB with a 1.81 home ERA.
- He led the AL and was second in MLB with a .177 home batting average against.
- He led the AL and was tied for second in MLB with a .818 winning percentage.
- He was tied for the AL lead and was second in MLB with 10 home wins.
- He led the AL and was third in MLB with a 1.59 walk/nine innings rate.
- He led the AL and was third in MLB with an 82.6% left-on-base percentage.
- He was second in the AL and MLB with a 7.7 fWAR for pitchers.
- He was second in the AL and MLB with a fielding independent pitching of 2.50.
- He was second in the AL and third in MLB with 265 strikeouts.
- He was second in the AL and fourth in MLB in strikeouts per nine innings with 11.71.
- He was third in the AL and sixth in MLB in innings pitched (203 2/3), despite missing a month.
- He was selected to his second consecutive AL All-Star team in July.
- He was the American League’s Pitcher of the Month in June, August, and September.
- He was an AL Player of the Week in June and September.
- He became the first Indians pitcher to lead MLB in ERA since 1949 (Mike Garcia).
- His 265 strikeouts gave him four straight seasons with 200+ strikeouts and 200+ innings pitched.
- He became the fastest to record 1,000 strikeouts in Indians history on June 14.
- His 11.71 strikeouts/nine inning rate was best in Indians history (passing Sam McDowell’s 10.71 in 1965).
- His 7.36 strikeouts/walk rate was best in Indians history (surpassing Josh Tomlin’s 5.90 set in 2016).
- His 0.87 WHIP was second-lowest in Indians history (Addie Joss – 0.81 in 1908).
- His 202 ERA+ was second-lowest in Indians history (Addie Joss – 204 in 1908).
- His 15 starts with ten or more strikeouts are second-most in Indians history.
- His .818 winning percentage was third-best in Indians history and best since Cliff Lee’s .880 in 2008.
- His .193 batting average against was sixth-best in Indians history and the lowest since Sam McDowell’s .189 in 1968.
- His 6.23 hits per nine innings rate was seventh-best in Indians history.
- His 265 strikeouts were seventh-most in Indians history and four short of his career high.
Exhausted by that list? That incredible pile of statistics, hardly close to everything that he accomplished during the 2017 season, was not only one of the best performances of the year in the American League or across Major League Baseball, it was one of the best in the 117-year history of the Indians franchise.
In the National League, Washington’s Max Scherzer won the award for the second straight season and the third time in his career.
Photo: Ron Schwane/Getty Images