Award Week Coming with Tribe Stars in the Spotlight

November historically marks the start of offseason activities around baseball and this year is no exception, even with the delays and issues created this season by the coronavirus.

The Major League Baseball free agency period kicked off over the weekend, with all teams also needing to come to terms on roster option decisions and qualifying offers for the handful of viable candidates on the new $18.9 million one-year tender. With that out of the way, the league can now look back and recognize its best and brightest during a season devoid of a midseason All-Star nod for those excelling at their craft.

Finalists for Major League Baseball’s four major awards will be announced on Monday night in a live MLB Network broadcast beginning at 6 PM ET. The top three finalists in each league will be announced for the Most Valuable Player Award, the Cy Young Award, the Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year.

While the Indians did not have a notable rookie in the running and their managerial duties were split between Terry Francona and Sandy Alomar Jr. over the course of the year, they may very well have two players in the mix for the MVP and Cy Young races.

Jose Ramirez’s strong surge in September boosted good numbers into MVP-caliber statistics. He supplied the Tribe lineup with a solid .292/.386/.607 slash in 58 games, hitting 17 homers and driving in 46 while stealing ten bases along the way. His 3.4 fWAR was the best in the American League by plenty (and tied with Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman for best in the Majors), with the next closest position player in the junior circuit slotting in at 2.7 (Los Angeles’ Anthony Rendon). If fWAR isn’t your thing, Ramirez still fared favorably in bWAR, finishing fourth in the AL with a 2.2 mark, trailing Jose Abreu and DJ LeMahieu at 2.8 and Tim Anderson decimal points ahead of him at 2.2. Shane Bieber was the AL’s overall Wins Above Replacement leader on Baseball-Reference at 3.3.

Speaking of Bieber, his incredible year on the mound for the Indians in 2020 could very well earn him a unanimous AL Cy Young Award in addition to a handful of votes in the AL MVP race. The 25-year-old finished as the Major League leader in wins (eight, tied with Chicago’s Yu Darvish), ERA (1.63), and strikeouts (122) to become the first Pitching Triple Crown winner since Justin Verlander (Detroit) and Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles) in 2011 and the first pitcher to lead all of baseball in those statistics since Minnesota’s Johan Santana in 2006. In Bieber’s 12 outings, he worked in 77 1/3 innings, posting an 8-1 record with a 0.87 WHIP, an MLB-best 14.2 strikeouts per nine innings, and an AL-best 5.4 hits per nine innings. He finished fourth in the Cy Young voting a season ago during his first full season in the Majors.

The winners of the aforementioned quartet of awards will be announced next week. The league Rookies of the Year will be announced on Monday, November 9; Managers of the Year on Tuesday, November 10; Cy Youngs on Wednesday, November 11; and MVPs on Thursday, November 12. All of these awards will be revealed daily in live 6 PM ET broadcasts on MLB Network.

Gold Glove winners will be announced on Tuesday, November 3. Rawlings Baseball, the official sponsor of the award, has already revealed the finalists at each position in each league (three per position, with the exception of the four AL second baseman recognized). Unlike in years past, when coaches’ voting determined winners, defensive metrics will be at the heart of the selection process due to teams being restricted to a smaller pool of opponents over the course of the season and therefore not having the chance to see some of the other candidates in action.

The Indians have three nominees among the nine positions awarded, including starting pitcher Zach Plesac, catcher Roberto Perez, and second baseman Cesar Hernandez. Several former Indians also made the cut, including third baseman Gio Urshela (New York) and right fielders Clint Frazier (New York) and Anthony Santander (Baltimore) in the AL.

In addition to the award tour, there will be plenty of other baseball activities throughout the month to pay attention to. The 2021 Hall of Fame ballot will be announced on Monday, November 16, with 14 players returning from last year’s results including former Tribe players Omar Vizquel (on 52.6% of the ballots in 2020), Manny Ramirez (28.2%), and Jeff Kent (27.5%). A rather lackluster list of new possible candidates includes former Clevelanders Grady Sizemore and Nick Swisher. Teams also have until Friday, November 20, to add players to the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 draft in December. The non-tender deadline follows on Wednesday, December 2, with the virtual Winter Meetings and the Rule 5 draft happening the next week.

Photo: Ron Schwane/Getty Images

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