Major League Baseball announced the finalists for postseason awards on Monday night, and three Cleveland Indians are among elite company.
Not that it will come as any surprise to fans of the Cleveland Indians, but the Tribe’s pennant-winning season was fueled by some exceptional individual performances that allowed the team to flourish in 2016. As a result and in recognition of that, Corey Kluber, Tyler Naquin, and Terry Francona were named finalists for major postseason awards by Major League Baseball on Monday night.
Kluber, who went 18-9 with a 3.14 earned run average in 32 regular season starts for Cleveland, finds himself among three finalists for the American League Cy Young award, along with Rick Porcello of the Boston Red Sox and Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. The 30-year old right-hander led the league in several statistical categories, including FIP, ERA+, adjusted pitching runs, and adjusted pitching wins, and ranked in the top ten in just about everything else.
The 2014 Cy Young winner, Kluber was a force in the postseason, often working on short rest to lead a depleted starting rotation for the Indians. He allowed just seven runs in 34.1 playoff innings, good for a 1.83 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP, and a 4-1 record.
The award winner will be unveiled live on MLB Network on Wednesday, November 16th at 6:00 p.m. ET.
His struggles in the postseason notwithstanding, Naquin made big strides in his first taste of big league action, and is certainly deserving of Rookie of the Year consideration. In 116 regular games, the 25-year old posted a .296/.372/.514 slash line with 18 doubles, 14 home runs, and 43 RBIs, and provided perhaps the most iconic moment of the entire season for the Tribe.
Naquin is joined by Gary Sanchez of the New York Yankees and Michael Fulmer of the Detroit Tigers as ROY finalists, with the winner being made known live on MLB Network on Monday, November 14th at 6:00 p.m. ET.
Along with Kluber and Naquin, Francona represents Cleveland as one of three finalists for American League Manager of the Year, along with Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles and Jeff Banister of the Texas Rangers, after guiding the club to a 94-67 record, its first AL Central Division title since 2007, and its first World Series appearance since 1997.
Francona also won the award in 2013, his first year at the helm for the Tribe. His masterful lineup and bullpen orchestration during the postseason were a determining factor in Cleveland’s run to the Fall Classic, and though playoff performance is not used to judge the award, proved once again that Tito is among the very best skippers in the game today.
The Manager of the Year recipient will be announced live on MLB Network as well, on Tuesday, November 15th at 6:00 p.m. ET.
Whether Kluber, Naquin, or Francona ultimately take home the hardware is of little consequence to the season that just ended. The Indians put together a year to remember for themselves and their fans, and accolades are merely icing on the cake. While the recognition is validating for the club, there are larger aspirations for 2017 and beyond.