The Cleveland Indians have a host of activities planned for Wednesday and Thursday ahead of the announcement of the American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards, for which Corey Kluber and Michael Brantley are finalists.
Kluber, 28, is coming off one of the best seasons in Indians history by a starting pitcher, going 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA and 269 strikeouts, sixth-most in club history for a single season. He finished tied for first in the American League in wins (18) and starts (34), second in strikeouts and third in ERA (2.44) and innings pitched (235.2).
Brantley earned his first American League All-Star selection in 2014 and led the club and set career-bests in virtually every offensive category. He became the first Indians player to amass 200 hits, 45-plus doubles, 20-plus home runs and 20-plus stolen bases in the 114-year history of the franchise (and the ninth overall player in MLB history to do it). He also won an AL Silver Slugger Award.
Among the activities planned are:
- Kluber Q&A: Fans will have the opportunity to ask Kluber questions on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon; fans should follow @Indians and @CKluber to participate.
- Callaway conference call: Tribe Season Ticket Holders and social media followers can chat live with the man who works most closely with Kluber during the season, Tribe pitching coach Mickey Callaway, at 4PM Wednesday.
- Business/school support: The Indians are asking Cleveland-area businesses and schools to wear Tribe colors to support Kluber and Brantley on Wednesday and Thursday; those that do, and tweet photos of their workplace or school in Tribe gear using the hashtag #CyKluber, will be eligible to win Indians prize packs. (Click here for contest rules.)
- Social media contests: The Indians will offer prizes for fans on social media who enter a Kluber look-a-like contest and others.
- #CyKluber countdown, #SmoothMVP highlights: On social media, the Indians will wrap up their month-long countdown of Kluber’s AL-high 18 wins with recaps of each start, including pitching lines, highlights and more. On Thursday, the club’s social media accounts will focus on highlights of Brantley’s historic season.
- Cy Young announcement: Kluber, along with the other finalists, will be interviewed on MLB Network starting at 6PM Wednesday ahead of the announcement.
- MVP announcement: Brantley will be interviewed, along with the Angels’ Mike Trout and the Tigers’ Victor Martinez, on MLB Network starting at 6PM ahead of the award unveiling.
Date/score: September 16, 4-2
Opponent: Houston Astros
Pitching line: 7 IP, 1 ER, 14 SO, 2 BB
2014 strikeout total: 244
Key at-bat(s): Kluber found himself in rare trouble in the fourth – Marwin Gonzalez singled, Jon Singleton walked and Max Stassi singled to load the bases. Kluber once again locked in, striking out Alex Presley and Gregorio Petit to end the inning.
Notable: Kluber’s previous career-high in strikeouts was 13, on May 4 vs. the White Sox at Progressive Field; he pitched 8 innings that afternoon but got a no-decision.
Game score (avg. Game Score, developed by sabermetrician Bill James, is 49-50): 71
Michael Brantley caught up with reporters on a conference call this afternoon to discuss his reaction to being named an AL MVP finalist and winner of the AL Silver Slugger on Thursday.
“When I sit back and reflect on the season, the coaching staff, teammates and trainers, family, the fun season we had together, to be recognized for these awards is a blessing and an honor. Your peers and voters have their say as well. I’m just honored to be mentioned in that category with those guys. It’s a tribute to a lot of hard work that’s paying off.
On Yan Gomes being awarded the Silver Slugger: “It’s very exciting because you see that he is one of the leaders on this team. We hit side by side in the cage. He works hard each and every day as a catcher; it’s not easy. To be his teammate and to watch how hard he worked to earn this award, I couldn’t be more happy for him.
On Terry Francona’s contract extension: “It’s exciting because it’s somewhere he wants to be. He is happy coaching us, and we are happy playing for him. 162 games is a long time. He allows you to go out there, play the game and enjoy it. He is truly a players’ manager. When you enjoy your manager, enjoy the guys, enjoy playing, it’s awesome. Something special is going to happen.
On the conversation he had this week with his father, Mickey Brantley: “It’s funny, we were just talking the other day. After I was nominated for a couple awards, I said, ‘Dad, I had a pretty good season.’ He just laughed and said, ‘Son, you had a great season.’ I’ve never been the player that was stat-driven; I care about my teammates and winning, and that comes first.
On his offseason and his anticipation for the 2015 season: “I pride myself on working hard in the offseason. Consistency and your workout routine, eating right and coming into Spring Training ready is important. Once the first game comes, I’m acclimated and ready to go. You have to come into Spring Training prepared and ready to play baseball.
I’m very excited for next year, and I hear from teammates that they are as well. Being with one another, especially the great group of guys we have in the locker room, it’s special. If guys push each other and work hard, I think good things will happen.”
Date/score: September 11, 8-2
Opponent: Minnesota Twins
Pitching line: 8.1 IP, 2 ER, 7 SO, 0 BB
2014 strikeout total: 230
Key at-bat(s): Trying to hang on for a complete game, Kluber allowed singles by Oswaldo Arcia and Eduardo Escobar in the eighth – but as he had done all season, buckled down, striking out Jordan Schaefer and getting Danny Santana to line out. He entered the ninth having thrown 96 pitches, but allowed three singles, the latter an RBI variety by Trevor Plouffe, and exited after 8.1 innings.
Notable: The second of five wins in a row, Kluber had five 1-2-3 innings in the victory.
Game score (avg. Game Score, developed by sabermetrician Bill James, is 49-50): 66
Date/score: September 6, 3-1
Opponent: Chicago White Sox
Pitching line: 9 IP, 0 ER, 8 SO, 0 BB
2014 strikeout total: 223
Key at-bat(s): In the fifth, Carlos Sanchez singled and Tyler Flowers doubled a batter later to put men on second and third; Kluber, though, got Adam Eaton to fly out to center to end the inning and the threat.
Notable: Kluber’s outing marked the seventh time he allowed no earned runs in a start; in those starts, he averaged eight innings per outing.
Game score (avg. Game Score, developed by sabermetrician Bill James, is 49-50): 83
(Editor’s Note: Leading up to the Nov. 12 announcement of the AL Cy Young Award, we’ll count down Corey Kluber’s 18 wins with a post per day recapping his victories.)
Date/score: August 9, 7-1
Opponent: New York Yankees
Pitching line: 6 IP, 0 ER, 10 SO, 1 BB
2014 strikeout total: 187
Key at-bat(s): Kluber cruised through five innings in the Bronx, but Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury singled to start the sixth. Kluber buckled down and struck out Carlos Beltran, Chase Headley and Stephen Drew to retire the side.
Notable: Along with a no-decision in his next start, in which he allowed one run in 7.2 innings, Kluber lowered his ERA to a season-low 2.41.
Yan Gomes chatted with Cleveland reporters on a conference call this morning, a day after he was awarded the AL Silver Slugger at catcher.
Here’s a few things Yan had to say:
“(The award) sums up a pretty eventful year, from signing a contract (in April) to having a baby.
“I’m so thrilled for (Michael Brantley, who also won a Silver Slugger Award). He had an unreal year. To be recognized as an MVP Award candidate … He had an amazing year and I credit him a lot for the year I had. He set the tone in the lineup and helped me out a lot.
On what helped him at the plate in 2014: “A more consistent amount of at-bats and (Manager Terry Francona) telling me I just needed to focus on defense and the pitching staff — that helped me relax at the plate.
On Corey Kluber potentially winning the Cy Young: “I’ve been in touch with him this week and this offseason, just talking about how amazing his year was. If he doesn’t get the hardware — he needs to be still really thrilled with the kind of year he had. I might be biased, but it’s a hands-down thing (for him to win), the way he carried our pitching staff. Cy Young talk got a little louder and some guys might let the pressure hit him. Once the Cy Young talk started happening, he stepped up and did even better his last 3 outings.
On the team’s core: “The core group of guys we have have 2-3 years of experience with each other and we’re going to keep building on that.
On Terry Francona’s extension: “Tito’s extension shows the commitment he has to us. It’s exciting; he’s helped me a ton in the early part of my career, and I’m excited he’s sticking around.
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have announced the players who have been named to the MLB All-Star Team to be led by Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell – and one of his coaches, Tribe manager Terry Francona! — during the upcoming Japan All-Star Series 2014. The Japan All-Star Series 2014 will feature MLB All-Stars traveling to Japan next week to play a five-game series against “Samurai Japan” (Japan’s National Team).
Tribe first baseman Carlos Santana, who in 2014 became the first Tribe switch hitter to hit 25 homers and walk 100 times in a season, will join Terry overseas in this unique series. Santana also led the Majors in walks this season.
MLB Network will exclusively televise every game of the Japan All-Star Series live in the United States, beginning with the exhibition game on Tuesday, November 11th at 4AM ET.
MLB.TV subscribers also will be able to watch every game live and on-demand across any of its supported devices, including via the MLB.com At Bat app. The games will be called live by a rotating on-air team of MLB Network announcers that includes play-by-play by Paul Severino and analysis from Mark DeRosa and Darryl Hamilton. Each game will re-air later the same day at 9PM ET.
For more information regarding MLB Network’s coverage, please visit http://m.mlb.com/network/shows/?id=live_games.
The Louisville Silver Slugger Awards are given annually to the top offensive performers at each position in each league, and the Indians have two winners this year: catcher Yan Gomes and left fielder Michael Brantley.
Gomes, 27, becomes the first Indians catcher to win an outright Silver Slugger Award; Victor Martinez shared the award with Ivan Rodriguez in 2004. He hit .278 (135-485) with 25 doubles, 21 home runs and 74 RBI in 135 games in 2014, leading American League catchers in average (.278), OPS (.785) and extra base hits (49) and was 2nd in RBI (74) and 3rd in homers (21). The Sao Paulo, Brazil native joined Carlos Santana, Victor Martinez, Sandy Alomar & John Romano as only Indians catchers with 20+ HR, 60+ R and 70+ RBI in a single-season. In his first full season in the Majors, Yan finished 12th in slugging pct (.472), 19th in OPS (.785) and 9th in average vs. LHP (.331) in the entire A.L. among the 76 batters who qualified for the batting title while his 51 RBI over the season’s final 86 games (6/24-9/28) were 2nd on the club behind Santana (55). He is the only catcher in club history to win the *Silver Slugger Award outright (Martinez shared the award in 2004).
Brantley, 27, was named a finalist for the AL MVP award on Tuesday night; he’s up against the Angels’ Mike Trout and the Tigers’ Victor Martinez. Brantley earned his first American League All-Star selection and led the club and set career-bests in virtually every offensive category, becoming the first Indians player to amass 200 hits, 45+ doubles, 20+ HR, 20+ stolen bases in the 114-year history of the franchise; he’s also just the 9th player in MLB history to reach those numbers.
He became the ninth member of the club’s 20 homers/20 steal club and the first Indians hitter since 1996 to record 200 hits. Among A.L. batters he finished 3rd in average (.327) and doubles (45), 2nd in hits (200), 4th in on-base pct. (.385), T6th in runs (94), 7th in OPS (.890), 11th in steals (23) and 12th in RBI (97). He is vying to become the first Indians A.L. MVP since Al Rosen in 1953. Manny Ramirez and Roberto Alomar (T3rd 1999) were the last Indians players to finish among the top 3 in the A.L. MVP voting.
Louisville Slugger annually awards Silver Sluggers to the top offensive player at each position in the American and National Leagues. The award is voted on by four members of each club’s coaching staff.
The Tribe’s last winner was shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera in 2011, while Grady Sizemore was the last Indians outfielder to win the award, in 2008. Victor Martinez was the last Tribe catcher to win, in 2004, and the last time the Indians had two Silver Sluggers in the same year was 2000 (Robbie Alomar, Manny Ramirez).
Nick Swisher, Tommy Lasorda and Navy service man Garth Sinclair received the 2014 Bob Feller Act of Valor Awards on Wednesday night at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The awards were created last year by author Peter Fertig as a way to pay homage to Bob’s incredible career, both on the baseball field and in service to his country. Bob’s widow, Anne, was on hand again to help honor her late husband’s legacy. Here’s Nick’s acceptance speech:
More Act of Valor Awards coverage:
- Swisher on Feller Act of Valor Award: ‘First thing that comes to mind is pride’
- Hall of Fame Manager and Bob Feller Act of Valor Award winner Tommy Lasorda on Feller’s legacy
(Photos/video by Jeff Malet)