Cleveland Indians Awards Picks Through the First Month
Following one of their most lopsided losses of the season, the Cleveland Indians are now 11-12, four games behind the Kansas City Royals in the American League Central. However, there have been plenty of promising performances throughout the first month or so of the season.
Here are who we’d give the first month awards to after 23 games of action.
MVP - Franmil Reyes
Several candidates were considered, but ultimately the slugging Reyes was the choice. So far, the 25-year old has been by far the best offensive player in Cleveland’s lineup.
Back in 2019, Reyes hit just .237 after being acquired from the Padres with 10 homers. In 2020, the average and on-base percentage raised significantly, but he managed to hit just nine homers over the course of the 60-game season.
Now, the big righty is putting everything together. Through 22 games, Reyes leads the team in average (.293), homers (7), RBI (17), total bases (53), hits (24), and OPS (.968). He has had two three-hit games in the last week and three already this season, as well as RBI in six of his last eight games.
While he doesn’t project as a high average guy, and his 29-to-3 strikeout to walk rate is really bad, Reyes has been the biggest bopper in a lineup that lost their franchise guy in Francisco Lindor this last offseason. So far, the “Franimal” is doing a solid job of filling the void.
Cy Young Award - Shane Bieber
With all due respect to Aaron Civale or even Emmanuel Clase, the reigning Cy Young winner is Cleveland’s Cy Young recipient through the first month. And while it’s not quite like last year’s season, Bieber has been pretty elite once again.
Through five seasons, Bieber has gone six innings at minimum, seven or more in each of his last three appearances. He has given up three or fewer runs in all of them and racked up double-digit strikeouts in his first four. In his fifth start, a 2-1 loss to the Yankees, Bieber “settle” for nine punchouts in seven innings.
In total, Bieber has a team-best 2.48 ERA among starters, a 0.94 WHIP, and 57 strikeouts in 36.1 innings of work. That gives him a 14.1 K/9 rate, lower than just three pitchers (DeGrom, Burnes, Cole) in all of baseball.
While all he has to show for his pitching thus far is a 2-2 record, it’s clear the Indians have one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, starting every fifth day. He’s the no-doubt choice as the team Cy Young.
Rookie of the Year - Emmanuel Clase
This was a two-horse race between Clase and Triston McKenzie. But with some command issues that are plaguing McKenzie, we’re giving the edge to the Tribe’s newest closer.
Originally thought to be a three-man closer-by-committee situation, Clase has gotten the first crack at the closer job and has run with it. The 23-year old has yet to allow an earned run in 10.1 innings, striking out 10 batters and earning four saves. His FIP, or fielding independent pitching, is still a strong 1.64, and he also carries a WHIP of 0.97.
The nice thing for Clase as well has been the fact that he’s keeping the ball in the yard. A lot of times, young pitchers struggle with command and, as a result, overcompensate with incredibly hittable pitchers. However, the Dominican flamethrower has just three walks all season and zero homers allowed.
As long as he continues this run, Clase isn’t relinquishing the closer job anytime soon. His breakout has been a welcomed sight for Indians fans, making him the choice for the team’s top rookie so far.
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