Kluber and Brantley: Award Winning Seasons.

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The 2014 version of the Cleveland Indians were slightly disappointing when compared to the 2013 playoff team. There were, however, many bright spots, especially considering the young talent that is on the current Indians roster. Two of those bright spots are the ace of the staff, Corey Kluber, and outfield All-Star Michael Brantley. Kluber and Brantley both had unbelievable seasons. Kluber is in the running for a Cy Young, and Brantley is in the running for an MVP trophy.

Let’s first start with Corey Kluber. He led the AL with 18 wins and was especially dominant the 2nd half of the season. To run down some of his stats, Kluber was 2nd in total strikeouts, 3rd in earned run average, and he faced the 2nd most batters last season. All of these stats are based on the American League. Since there is a Cy Young for each league, I didn’t see it necessary to compare Kluber’s stats to the entire MLB. It would seem that Kluber’s main competition and the “favorite” to win the AL Cy Young is Felix Hernandez. I understand why Hernandez is the favorite, but I do not agree with it.

Hernandez was behind Kluber in wins last season with 15 compared to Kluber’s 18. Hernandez did have a better ERA than Kluber, but he also faced 39 less batters last season. I could keep going and break down their stats all day. Personally I believe that Kluber has better stats than Hernandez but the big advantage that Hernandez has, is that he has already won a Cy Young and people know how dominant he has been in the past. I’m not saying that he wasn’t dominant this season, but he wasn’t as good as Kluber. If I were a voter, I would give the Cy Young to Corey Kluber. Call me a biased homer all you want, his stats are there to back up the claim.

Now, on to Michael Brantley, who very quietly had one of the best seasons in baseball. He hit .327, with 20 HR and 97 RBIs. I wrote about Brantley earlier in the season and I said he was going to have a career best year, and I was right. Now, I’m not trying to rub it in, but…who am I kidding? I called this back in June. Brantley is now in the conversation for AL MVP.

The race for AL MVP isn’t as close as the Cy Young race. Brantley is a severe underdog in the shadow of Victor Martinez and Mike Trout. Both of these guys had more home runs and RBIs than Brantley, however Brantley had a significantly higher average that Trout. I think in the end the MVP goes to Victor Martinez. He had a monster season at the plate and his numbers reflect that. He hit .335 with 32 home runs and 103 RBIs. I don’t think Brantley has a chance, but it’s refreshing to see another Indian nominated for an end of the season award.

Kluber and Brantley are both still very young. Even if they don’t win their respective awards this season, they will be back in the conversation at the end of the 2015 season. Kluber is 28 and Brantley is 27. These two are primed to carry the Indians into the future. This is the first time in a while I can remember the Indians have both a dominant pitcher and every day player at the same time. During the Cy Young seasons for C.C Sabathia and Cliff Lee, the Indians didn’t have the offensive player that Brantley is today. Just as a side note, Brantley was “the player to be named later” in the Sabathia trade. If there is one thing the Indians have been good at over the last decade, it’s picking up incredible young talent in high profile trades. Did I mention the Indians acquired Kluber from a trade?  Remember Jake Westbrook? Let’s just hope these two can win a championship before they get traded away for future talent.

Written by Rick Giavonette

Follow me on Twitter: @CST_RickG

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