Nine pitchers handled the high-octane offenses around MLB better than anyone else in 2017, and with the World Series in the rearview mirror and the Hot Stove season already set on simmer, it's time to honor the game's elite from the fantastic '17 season and postseason that we were all
Nine pitchers handled the high-octane offenses around MLB better than anyone else in 2017, and with the World Series in the rearview mirror and the Hot Stove season already set on simmer, it's time to honor the game's elite from the fantastic '17 season and postseason that we were all so lucky to witness.
Although the Esurance MLB Awards' Best Pitcher category is certainly up for grabs, the presumptive favorites would appear to be Kluber and Scherzer -- who each earned BBWAA Cy Young Awards on Wednesday night -- or Verlander, who helped the Astros win their first World Series championship in franchise history with a remarkable performance during the stretch run and throughout October. Scherzer is looking to become a back-to-back Best Pitcher winner after taking home the honor in 2016, with Kluber joining him among last year's finalists.
Make your voice heard by voting for Best Pitcher in the Esurance MLB Awards, where baseball legends, media, front-office personnel and fans come together to pick the winners, with postseason accomplishments factored in. Then tune in Friday at 8 p.m. ET on MLB Network and MLB.com as this year's best stars and moments are revealed.
Houston's late-season acquisition, Verlander, made the final nine, as did Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and shutdown Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen. The NL East-champion Nationals are represented here with the Cy Young Award-winning Max Scherzer and teammate Stephen Strasburg, and the American League East-champion Red Sox have a pair of arms in the mix with starter Chris Sale and closer Craig Kimbrel. The other nominees are the aforementioned Kluber and young Yankees fireballer Luis Severino.
Verlander was solid for much of the season with the Tigers, then came to Houston in an August trade and took off: He went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA for the Astros down the stretch, won the AL Championship Series MVP honors by going 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA in his team's seven-game triumph over the Yankees, and then struck out 14 batters in 12 innings during his two World Series starts.
Kershaw's regular season was cut a bit short because of lower-back woes, but he put in his usual work that has led to three Cy Young Awards and an NL MVP honor before his 30th birthday. Kershaw went 18-4 with a 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts in 175 innings in 27 regular-season starts, and went 3-0 in five postseason starts and one World Series relief appearance.
Jansen was once again dominant in the regular season, going 5-0 with a 1.32 ERA and 41 saves. He struck out 109 batters in 68 1/3 innings and walked only seven. In the postseason, he logged several multiple-inning outings and still managed to impress, saving five games in October and giving up only three earned runs while striking out 18 in those 16 2/3 high-leverage innings.
Scherzer, who has now won three Cy Young Awards, was typically brilliant for Washington, going 16-6 with a career-low regular-season ERA of 2.51 plus an NL-leading 268 strikeouts in 200 2/3 innings. In the postseason, Scherzer struck out eight batters in 7 1/3 innings over two appearances.
Strasburg went 15-4 with a career-best 2.52 ERA and 204 strikeouts in 175 1/3 innings. He also went 6-1 with a 0.86 ERA in the second half of the season and pitched 14 innings with 22 strikeouts while going 1-1 in two NL Division Series starts vs. the Cubs.
Sale made his first season with the Red Sox a memorable one, going 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA while leading the Majors in strikeouts with a career-high 308 in 214 1/3 innings. He was not at his best in two AL Division Series losses vs. the Astros, although he did strike out 12 batters in 9 2/3 October innings.
Kimbrel was his usual unhittable self in 2017, going 5-0 with a 1.43 ERA and 35 saves. The right-hander struck out 126 batters in 69 innings and posted a WHIP of 0.68 that was his best since 2012. Kimbrel appeared in two games in the Division Series loss to Houston and did not get a save opportunity, striking out two batters in two total innings.
The newly minted 2017 AL Cy Young Award winner tied his career-high total of 18 victories and posted the lowest ERA (2.25) of his career in 2017 while striking out 265 batters in 203 2/3 innings. He also had three shutouts, five complete games and limited hitters to an AL-best .193 batting average. He pitched to a 1.62 ERA over the last four months of the regular season.
Severino, 23, blossomed for New York in his first full season in the Major Leagues, going 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA, a .208 batting average against, 230 strikeouts in 193 1/3 innings, a 1.04 WHIP, and a 10.71 K/9 rate that was the best in franchise history.
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor MLB's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five groups, each of which accounts for 20 percent of the overall vote: media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, fans at MLB.com and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) members.
The MLB Awards are an all-inclusive program, encompassing the top players and performances from both the American and National Leagues from Opening Day through the end of the postseason.
Voting led off with seven categories on Sept. 18 at mlb.com/awards, serving as the grand entrance of a program that unveiled nominees for Best Call, TV/Radio; Best Major Leaguer, Postseason; and Best Postseason Moment following the Fall Classic's final out. The ninth inning of voting began around BBWAA Awards week, which opened when the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award winners were unveiled Monday, Nov. 13. Voting in the Best Executive, Best Rookie, Best Manager and Best Pitcher categories are now underway, and the Best Major Leaguer nominees will be announced at 6:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.
MLB Awards season will culminate Friday, when winners are announced live on MLB Network and MLB.com starting at 8 p.m. ET.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.