CLEVELAND, Ohio — The last impression is often the one that lingers. But it is good to know that there are those who value the longer view as well.
The final impression that Corey Kluber and Jose Ramirez left with Indians’ fans was not a good one. In Houston’s three-game sweep of the Indians in the ALDS last month, Kluber stumbled through a Game 1 loss and Ramirez went 0-for-11.
Still, that did not stop Kluber and Ramirez from being named finalists for the AL Cy Young and MVP awards, respectively. The finalists for the Baseball Writers Association of America’s annual awards were announced Monday night on MLB Network. The awards, voted on by two baseball writer’s in each city, are based on a player’s performance in the regular season and must be voted on before the start of the postseason.
Kluber, Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell and Houston’s Justin Verlander are the AL Cy Young finalists. The winner will be announced on MLB Network at 6 p.m. on Nov. 14.
In the last four years Kluber won the Cy Young in 2014, finished ninth in 2015, finished third in 2016 and won it for the second time in 2017. He’s been a finalist three times in the last five years.
Kluber, the only pitcher to win the Cy Young twice in franchise history, is coming off the first 20-win season of his career. He went 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 33 starts. He led the AL with 215 innings pitched and finished second in wins. Kluber’s strikeouts dropped from 265 in 2017 to 222, which still ranked fifth in the AL.
While Kluber’s last two ventures into the postseason have not gone well, he has won 18 or more games in four of the last five seasons with an ERA that never rose above 3.49.
The writer’s final vote will be an interesting one to dissect. Snell (21-5, 1.89) appears to be the favorite, but he pitched just 180 2/3 innings. Verlander, meanwhile, went 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA. He made 34 starts and pitched 214 innings, while leading the AL with 290 strikeouts. Snell struck out 221 batters.
Ramirez is a finalist for the second straight year. He finished third last year.
This year he’s joined by Boston’s Mookie Betts and Mike Trout of the Angels. If not for disastrous end-of-the season slide, Ramirez could easily be the Indians first MVP since Al Rosen in 1953.
Despite ending the year in a 24-for-146 slump, Ramirez still hit .270 with 38 doubles, four triples, 39 homers and 105 RBI. He scored 110 runs and stole 34 bases to become just the third 30-30 man in team history. Over the last two years, Ramirez leads the big leagues with 172 extra base hits.
Last year Ramirez finished third in the MVP voting behind Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge. He could finish third again, which would be worth a $150,000 bonus.
Betts posted a 10.6 WAR with 129 runs, 42 doubles, 32 homers and 80 RBI. He led the big leagues with a .346 (180-for-520) batting average and a .640 slugging percentage, while stealing 30 bases. While Ramirez played 157 games, Betts played only 136 games.
Trout posted a 10.2 WAR with 101 runs, 24 doubles, 39 homers and 79 RBI. He led the AL with 122 walks and led the big leagues with a .460 on base percentage and a 1.088 OPS. The AL MVP will be announced at 6 p.m. on Nov. 15.
Here are the other finalist:
AL Rookie of the year finalists: Miguel Andujar, Yankees, Gleyber Torres, Yankees and Shohei Ohtani, Angels; NL Rookie of the Year: Ronald Acuna, Braves, Walker Buehler, Dodgers and Juan Soto, Nationals. Winners announced on Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. on MLB Network.
AL Manager of the Year finalists: Kevin Cash, Rays, Alex Cora, Red Sox and Bob Melvin, A’s; NL Manager of the Year: Bud Black, Rockies, Craig Counsell, Brewers and Brian Snitker, Braves. Winners announced on Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. on MLB Network.
NL Cy Young finalists: Jacob deGrom, Mets, Aaron Nola, Phillies and Max Scherzer, Nationals. Winner announced on Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. on MLB Network.
NL MVP finalists: Nolan Arendado, Rockies, Javier Baez, Cubs and Christian Yelich, Brewers. Winner announced on Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. on MLB Network.