CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber barely flinched when it was revealed that he won the American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday night. The Indians' ace displayed much more emotion when he took home the honor three years ago, peering away from the camera, smiling and flashing a quick thumbs up
CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber barely flinched when it was revealed that he won the American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday night. The Indians' ace displayed much more emotion when he took home the honor three years ago, peering away from the camera, smiling and flashing a quick thumbs up to his family.
The lack of reaction was true to Kluber's stoic persona, which has become as much of a trademark for the right-hander as his devastating curveball and bat-breaking sinker. It was also an indication once again that Kluber -- now the lone two-time Cy Young Award recipient in Tribe history -- is focused more on larger goals than individual accolades.
• Complete 2017 Awards coverage
"Regardless of how tonight went," Kluber said, "whether I would've finished first, second, third, whatever it be, 2017 is in the past. I'm looking forward to 2018. I've been back in the gym for a while now, and I think that my full focus is on trying to put myself in a position to try to help the Tribe win a World Series."
• All-time Cy Young Award winners
:: AL Cy Young Award voting totals ::
Kluber's efforts along those lines in 2017 netted him 28 of 30 possible first-place votes and 204 points in balloting for this year's AL Cy Young Award by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Red Sox lefty Chris Sale (126 points) garnered the other two first-place tallies and finished second for the honor. Yankees right-hander Luis Severino (73) and Kluber's teammate, righty Carlos Carrasco (43), placed third and fourth, respectively.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer (a three-time Cy Young Award winner) won in the National League, and he is now joined by Kluber among the 19 pitchers in baseball history who have earned the award multiple times. Kluber (also the AL Cy Young Award winner in 2014), Cliff Lee ('08), Carsten Sabathia ('07) and Gaylord Perry (1972) are the only AL Cy Young Award winners in Indians history.
There is still the matter of a World Series victory, which Cleveland has not celebrated since 1948. Kluber helped power the Indians to the Fall Classic in 2016, but fell short in a seven-game defeat to the Cubs. This past season, Kluber led the charge for arguably one of the best pitching staffs in baseball history, but his struggles, among other issues for the Indians, in the AL Division Series led to a quick October exit.
The missteps in the postseason do not erase all Kluber achieved, though.
"Those individual accomplishments are always challenging," Indians general manager Mike Chernoff said at the GM Meetings this week. "Because, in the end, we're all seeking the team goal. At the same time, Kluber has been so consistent every year that it's been amazing to watch, and you hope that he can get this individual accomplishment."
Kluber got it, and did so in overwhelming fashion to cap off an overwhelming campaign.
With Kluber leading the way, the Indians' pitching staff finished this past season ranked first in the Majors in ERA (3.30), Fielding Independent Pitching (3.33) and strikeout percentage (27.5 percent), among other categories. Cleveland's staff as a whole also established single-season MLB records for strikeouts (1,614), strikeouts per nine innings (10.1) and WAR (31.7, per Fangraphs).
Kluber set the tone atop the rotation by going 18-4 with an MLB-leading 2.25 ERA, marking the first time since 1949 (Mike Garcia) that a Tribe pitcher led baseball in the statistic. In 29 starts over 203 2/3 innings, Kluber piled up 265 strikeouts compared to 36 walks, and he posted those totals despite missing most of May with a back injury. It marked the fourth straight season in which the right-hander eclipsed 200 strikeouts and 200 innings.
Kluber also turned in five complete games, including a shutout on Sept. 12 against the Tigers. That win was the 20th within Cleveland's AL-record 22-game winning streak.
"It's a huge honor to win," Kluber said. "It was an honor the first time and it's an honor the second time. I guess that more than anything, I think for me, this kind of shows what other people in the organization have been able to do on my behalf."
Kluber cited the work of the medical and training staff for helping him bounce back from the early-season health issues, and what he did over the final four months surely helped seal his Cy Young Award victory.
After his return on June 1, the Indians went 75-36 and ran away with the AL Central crown, finishing with 102 victories as a team. In his 23 starts over that time period, Kluber went 15-2 with a 1.62 ERA and earned AL Pitcher of the Month awards for June, August and September. In the second half, Kluber had a 1.79 ERA in 15 starts, and he turned in the third-highest strikeout-to-walk ratio (11.8) in MLB history after the break (among pitchers with at least 100 innings).
It was enough to win the AL Cy Young Award, but winning a ring remains Kluber's goal.
"All we can do is look forward to next year," he said, "and try to have a better finish."
You can now 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.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.