The Cleveland Indians have won 92 and 85 games the last two seasons. I don’t think I’ve seen enough recognizing them for that very difficult accomplishment. And I have no idea where the franchise would be today without the insane development of two stars.
Entering this season, Michael Brantley was a mostly mediocre outfielder. I had been so annoyed by talk of him being better than Carlos Santana. It wasn’t particularly close; Brantley was just an average left fielder with some flashy skills and timely hitting.
This season? Yes, he was a legitimate top-five (maybe not top three) American League MVP candidate. He had a .277/.330/.382 line with 26 homers in 514 games through 2013. In 2014, he batted .327/.385/.506 with 20 homers, 45 doubles and 97 RBI in 156 games. That kind of shocking jump just doesn’t happen.
Same with Corey Kluber. When the Indians acquired him for Jake Westbrook in 2010, I was working for the Akron Aeros. Kluber had some stuff – he always could strike guys out – but it was hard to see a guy with a 5.19 ERA in 38 High-A minor league games ever amounting to all that much. He seemed destined for future relief work.
Perhaps, after last year’s good season, Kluber’s elite 2014 made a bit more sense. He just stayed incredibly healthy and hardly ever missed a beat. The season – 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA and 269 strikeouts – will go down as one of the best for an Indians pitcher ever. In my mind, he really should be the Cy Young winner.
It’s really, really incredible what a year those two had for the Tribe. Without them and their insane improvement, would the Indians have won even 75 games? Would heads be rolling? Would we be stuck talking about attendance issues for the entire offseason?
News and Notes:
— Number Fire’s JJ Zachariason set out to write about the incredible decline from the Browns rushing attack. By the end, he also focused on Brian Hoyer’s efficiency decline too. Was Alex Mack that incredibly valuable?
— Northeast Ohio Media Group is printing excerpts from the recent book by Terry Pluto and Tom Hamilton about the ‘90s Indians. If you recall, I helped to proof-read and edit reader stories for the book. You should definitely go check these out.
— The Akron RubberDucks won Ballpark Digest’s logo/branding of the year award. Many kudos go out to owner Ken Babby, general manager Jim Pfander and the entire staff on a great season. Congrats, folks.
— Grantland’s Andrew Sharp – yes, that Andrew Sharp who wrote about his few days in Believeland last October – wrote about when we can really start to worry over the Cavs. He linked to some of my tweets on Big Three minute distributions.
— I’m so incredibly confused by this Akron Beacon Journal story on DEVO’s Mark Mothersbaugh designing a Wes Anderson-like theme park on the outskirts of Akron. Like, what?
— I’ll end on two calls for contributions. First, I’m participating in Movember for the first time this year. I’m joining alongside the fundraising campaign with the University of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center and the O Heroes athletic program office. Here’s our support page for you to contribute if you feel so inclined. My mustache will be pretty gnarly looking soon, I promise.
— Finally, if you’re an avid NBA reader, you might have heard of a fellow named Jim Cavan. He’s written at ESPN, Grantland, The Cauldron, Bleacher Report and more. Well, his young son is very, very ill. And he’s asking the Internet for any assistance possible. Here’s the gofundme page. Here’s SB Nation’s David Roth’s plea for all to help. I’d encourage you to support this really great guy.
Tweets of the Week:
I really enjoy this Browns team, somehow. Fun players. They aren't good but they're the best kind of mediocre.
— David Zavac (@DavidZavac) November 2, 2014
I'm blessed we didn't have to spend the entire weekend with "the Cavs are 0-2" twitter.
— alex (@steven_lebron) November 3, 2014
— Joe Favorito (@joefav) November 3, 2014
#Browns have lost 17 straight AFC North road games. Since start of 2004, they are 2-29 against divisional opponents away from Cleveland.
— Tom Reed (@treed1919) November 3, 2014
A record 11 AFC teams are above .500 thru Week 9. 17 teams in the NFL above .500 is record in 32-team era. pic.twitter.com/ONVGmHSfwG
— Scott Kacsmar (@ScottKacsmarNFL) November 3, 2014
— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) November 5, 2014
#Browns defense ranks 8th in scoring (21.1 per game). 29th in yardage (391.8 per game).
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) November 5, 2014
Comparing LeBron James shot selection from last year at this time to this year. 2013: 58.02 FG%, 2014: 40.3 FG% pic.twitter.com/fuAtZz0cLr
— Daren Willman (@darenw) November 5, 2014
— PFTonNBCSN (@PFT_Live) November 5, 2014