The Cleveland Indians did not have a player win the American League MVP award, but three players received votes for the award.
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After such a successful season, it was no surprise the Cleveland Indians would have several players up for postseason awards. While some fans may grumble about winning a World Series being the only thing that matters, it is nice to see the players be recognized for a great season.
Francisco Lindor started off the festivities by winning a Gold Glove award, followed by Terry Francona, who won his second American League Manager of the Year award.
Tyler Naquin was up for the AL Rookie of the Year, finishing third, while Corey Kluber finished third in the AL Cy Young voting.
Regardless of who won and who was only nominated for awards, the Indians’ presence in the postseason award voting shows how great this team was in 2016. Kluber was expected to be the ace, but Naquin was a surprise all year once Michael Brantley went out for good, and Francona helped guide this team to a division title with a shorthanded roster.
This roster was filled with talent at every position, which is why some Indians showed up in the final results of the AL MVP voting. No player had a chance to win the award, but let’s see who ended up receiving some votes on the final ballot.
Francisco Lindor finished ninth on the final ballot, tied with Miguel Cabrera with 56 final points based on the voting structure. He had two fifth-place votes, both coming from writers outside of Cleveland.
Lindor was extremely valuable to the team all season, appearing in 158 games, tying him with Carlos Santana for most on the team. The young shortstop also finished with a .301 batting average, putting him second on the team behind Jose Ramirez. His 6.3 WAR was the best on the team and sixth in the AL.
But more than anything else, Lindor is known for his defense. That was evident when he not only won the Gold Glove, but also the Platinum Glove, which goes to the best overall fielder in each league.
He has solidified himself as one of the best shortstops in the game, and has only just turned 23. He is still under team control for several years, but the Indians would be smart to lock him up to a long-term deal as soon as possible. The young star is only going to get better, and he should only end up higher than ninth-place in next year’s AL MVP voting if he continues at his current pace.
Sep 17, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11) celebrates after hitting a game-winning single during the tenth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field. The Indians won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
It would not be hard to argue for Jose Ramirez to be considered the Indians’ MVP for his play during the regular season. After starting the year as a utility man, Ramirez finished as the starting third baseman of the future.
He appeared in 97 games in 2015, finishing with a slash line of .219/.291/.340, leading to his status of not having a concrete starting role. But Brantley’s absence, along with Juan Uribe‘s struggles on defense allowed Ramirez to get significant playing time all season, and he took advantage of it.
His slash line in 2016 jumped to .312/.363/.462, a season in which he led the team in batting average and doubles. He also finished second in stolen bases with 22, a respectable mark compared to the 43 swiped by Rajai Davis.
Ramirez received a single ninth-place vote, which came from Jim Ingraham of The Chronicle-Telegram, based in Elyria. So yes, the vote came from an Indians writer, but it wasn’t unwarranted.
Ramirez is only 24 years old, so like Lindor, the 2016 season should only be an example of what is to come. And if the left side of the infield for the Indians only continues to improve, the postseason will be a regular occurrence in Cleveland.
After injuries to Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco and even with Josh Tomlin‘s August struggles, Kluber never wavered. He remained a constant in a decimated rotation, and his dominance was put on the national stage all throughout the postseason.
He finished third in the voting for the AL Cy Young, but would have blown away the competition if the postseason factored into the final voting decision.
Although Kluber, Ramirez and Lindor did not win the MVP award, having three Indians make the final voting is a great achievement. The success of this team is being recognized on the national stage, setting up the Indians to be one of the major contenders once again in 2017. And with a young core, along with the ace in Kluber, this team should once again see similar results in next year’s postseason award voting.