CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber has already been honored for his 2017 season as the best pitcher in the American League. On Friday, the Esurance MLB Awards took the praise one step further, honoring the Indians' ace with the Best Pitcher award, which emcompasses both leagues.Kluber, who won his second career
CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber has already been honored for his 2017 season as the best pitcher in the American League. On Friday, the Esurance MLB Awards took the praise one step further, honoring the Indians' ace with the Best Pitcher award, which emcompasses both leagues.
Kluber, who won his second career AL Cy Young Award on Thursday, beat out finalists Max Scherzer (the National League Cy Young winner) and Justin Verlander for the Best Pitcher award, which began with nine nominees, in the presentation shown on MLB Network and MLB.com. The regular season and postseason are taken into account for the accolade, but Kluber's showing before October outweighed his struggles in the playoffs in the minds of voters.
• Esurance MLB Awards: Complete coverage
Outfielder Austin Jackson -- now a free agent -- took home the award for Best Play, Defense, for his incredible catch on Aug. 1 at Fenway Park.
Kluber's victory, following a season in which he went 18-4 with an MLB-best 2.25 ERA and 265 strikeouts against 36 walks in 203 2/3 innings, was the big win of the night for the Tribe.
"I'd like to thank Esurance and the fans who voted me [Best Pitcher]," Kluber said during the announcement show. "It's quite an honor to be selected out of so many of my peers in Major League Baseball. I'd also like to thank my catchers, my teammates, the whole Indians organization; without them I wouldn't be sitting here right now.
"It was a very fun and historic season for us. We won 22 consecutive games, we had a lot of people come out to the ballpark and we gave everything we had every day. Thanks again to Esurance and to the fans."
Kluber is the first two-time Cy Young Award winner in Indians history.
"At some point in Kluber's career, something clicked," Indians catcher Yan Gomes said near the end of the season. "Once he found his routine, found his work ethic, it was, 'Hey, we're relying on you.' He didn't fold. He took it and ran with it."
The Tribe's 22-game winning streak, which ran from Aug. 24-Sept. 14, was the longest run in American League history and the second-longest streak in recorded baseball history. Only the New York Giants had a longer run, with 26 in 1916. On Friday, Cleveland's streak was one of two winners for Best Trending Topic. The other was Umpire John Trumpane saving the life of woman on the Roberto Clemente Bridge on June 28 in Pittsburgh.
Jackson's award-winning catch robbed Boston's Hanley Ramirez of a home run in jaw-dropping fashion. Playing center field, Jackson sprinted back to his left in the fifth inning and ran out of room at the short wall in front of the Red Sox's bullpen. Jackson jumped, snared the ball from the air and then flipped over the fence. Jackson grabbed the padding, managed to land on his feet and then received a standing ovation from the Fenway crowd.
"That was one of the best catches I think I've ever seen," Indians manager Terry Francona said at the time. "I mean, I've been in the game a long time. That's a hard wall out there and a lot of guys run away from it. Austin went up and over. That was one of the most exciting plays I've seen in a long, long time."
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 (Personality of the Year; Best Defensive Player; Best Play, Offense; Best Play, Defense; Best Performance; Best Fan Catch; Best Player-Fan Interaction) on Sept. 18 at mlb.com/awards, serving as the grand entrance of a program that unveiled the Best Call, TV/Radio; Best Major Leaguer, Postseason; and Best Postseason Moment categories following the Fall Classic's final out.
The ninth inning of voting began around BBWAA Awards week, giving fans the opportunity to help determine the Best Major Leaguer, Pitcher, Rookie, Manager and Executive. Winners were announced on MLB Network and MLB.com on Friday night.
Beyond Kluber and Jackson, the Indians also had finalists for Best Executive (Chris Antonetti, president of baseball operations), Personality of the Year (Francisco Lindor) and Best Call, TV/Radio (radio voice Tom Hamilton calling Lindor's grand slam in the AL Division Series).
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.