Cleveland Indians: Corey Kluber and the Tribe’s Greatest Cy Young Season Ever

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Apr 10, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians former pitcher Gaylord Perry presents the

Cy Young

Award to Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) before the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Gaylord Perry v. Corey Kluber

Similar to Kluber, Perry’s first few seasons in the big leagues as a rookie for the Giants were nothing to write home about. He pitched as both a reliever and a starter as he accumulated an ERA north of 4.00 in three of his first four seasons. But by the time he landed in Cleveland in 1972, Perry was one of the best pitchers in the game, and he proved his value by going 24-16 with a 1.92 ERA for the Tribe that season. That included an astonishing (and unsurprisingly, league-leading) 29 complete games.

Kluber has 3 complete games in 2014, which was the second-most in the American League. The Astros’ Dallas Keuchel had five complete outings, and Clayton Kershaw had a major-league leading six, just to show how far removed baseball is from letting even the best of its’ starters throw as many pitches as players like Perry did. While it doesn’t take away from Kluber’s season, it does make it hard to compare the two directly. Perry’s season was great largely in part because of just how many games and innings he pitched in – but Kluber will never have the opportunity to do that, because of the way baseball is structured.

Perry’s 2.50 FIP means he got a little lucky thanks to his defense, but it was still one of the most impressive seasons baseball fans will ever see. He struck out 234 batters that season, finishing the year with an 11.0 WAR. And yet, Kluber had a better FIP and even more strikeouts. Although Kluber’s 7.3 WAR doesn’t quite measure up, he outperformed Perry, even if he didn’t pitch nearly as many innings. Perry’s Cy Young season certainly wins in endurance, but Kluber just edges him out in the other categories.

The Indians have only had four players win the Cy Young as Indians, but it seems wrong to leave out Bartolo Colon: