Bieber wins MLB pitching Triple Crown

First to lead Majors in wins, ERA and K's since Johan Santana in '06

September 28th, 2020

CLEVELAND -- In 2019, the Indians pitching staff created a competitive game that they referred to as “King of the Hill,” which awarded the pitcher who had the best performance in each series with a toy-like crown. While would often sport the headdress after his winning performances, the 25-year-old now has a new crown that carries a little more weight.

Bieber captured the 2020 Major League Triple Crown -- a feat that hasn’t been done by any Indians pitcher and hasn’t happened in the big leagues since Johan Santana in 2006. In 1940, Bob Feller won the American League Triple Crown for the Tribe, but he did not lead the Majors in all three categories -- wins, ERA and strikeouts.

Bieber’s eight wins were tied for the most in the Majors with Yu Darvish of the Cubs. Meanwhile, Bieber's 1.63 ERA topped all other pitchers, with Cincinnati's Trevor Bauer finishing second at 1.73. And Bieber's 122 strikeouts won by a landslide, with only Jacob deGrom (104) and Bauer (100) reaching the 100-strikeout mark.

The Triple Crown is just one more accomplishment Bieber can add to his 2020 résumé. He also became the fastest pitcher to reach 100 strikeouts in a season (it took him just 62 1/3 innings), and he recorded at least eight strikeouts in each of his first 12 starts of the year, making it the second-longest streak to start a season (trailing only Randy Johnson, who did so in his first 15 starts in 2000). Bieber's strikeout rate of 41.1 percent is also the highest by a qualified starting pitcher in a season.

The final box for Bieber to check on his impressive year would be earning the AL Cy Young Award. Given the Triple Crown, it seems almost inevitable that Bieber will accomplish that feat, as well.

“I would expect his success to continue,” Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said earlier this month. “Which is a really difficult thing to say when you're playing against the best players in the world. The fact that Shane has the ability to continually make those adjustments, and once hitters may determine how he's trying to attack them, the fact that he can make the adjustment and find a different way to succeed is a testament to just how skilled Shane has become as a pitcher.”