Corey Kluber is rapidly establishing himself as a legend in Cleveland Indians lore. Will the game of baseball regard him the same way when the time comes?
Nobody saw Corey Kluber coming.
He was a fourth-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 2007. Three years later, he was an afterthought in a triangular deadline deal that landed him in the farm system of the Cleveland Indians. In 2013, his first full year of MLB service, he fell behind guys like Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez in the Indians’ starting rotation.
Today, he is a two-time Cy Young winner who has drastically changed the complexion of an entire franchise, and is the undisputed ace of one of the best teams in the American League.
When a pitcher earns his second Cy Young Award, he enters the conversation about the best pitchers of his generation. Sure, there are inevitably aberrations (see Lincecum, Tim), but by and large, being named the best pitcher in one’s respective league on multiple occasions is a strong indication that he stands tall among most of his contemporaries.
And if he’s regarded as one of the best of his own generation, a subsequent question emerges: Where will he stand among the greatest of all time?
Of course, maybe it’s a little early to start discussing how Kluber will be viewed when he hangs ’em up. He’s 31 years old with a ton of baseball left to play. But the Indians haven’t sent a pitcher to Cooperstown since Addie Joss in 1978, and Kluber appears poised to be the Tribe’s next chance at ending that drought (among others…).
Nobody saw Kluber coming, but it can’t hurt to take a look at where he could be going.