It was a record setting season in Cleveland. As a team, the Indians shattered records including the most strike outs in a single season by a pitching staff and the highest fWAR by the staff as well. They also won 102 games, the second most in Indians history (after 1954) and their 17 game lead in the Central was their third highest finish in club history (after 1995 and 1999).
With this, many individual milestones should be expected as well and there may be more than any other season since we’ve been keeping track on BurningRiverBaseball. Below is a breakdown of the individual movers and shakers on the Indians all-time stat leaderboards.
Possibly the most impressive offensive mark in the 2017 season was Ramirez taking over the third place in Indians history for most doubles in a single season with 56. As baseball was transforming from an pitching/defense based game to more of an offense based game in the 1920’s, the Indians were setting marks with doubles that would never be touched again. Among them, Tris Speaker set the still standing, all-time MLB career record for doubles and the original team record of 59 in 1929. George Burns won the MVP in 1926 and moved that team mark to 64. Since then, a few Indians hitters have reached 50, but no one has come as close to the record as Ramirez did this year in just his second full season.
Playing next to Ramirez, Lindor was the perfect fit with Ramirez both offensively and defensively. He had the 7th most at bats in Indians history in 2017 with 651, tied with Joe Carter in 1989. More impressively, among players with at least 50 attempts, Francisco Lindor now has the least amount of total times caught stealing and is second in caught stealing percent. Carlos Santana ranks 7th (17) and Ramirez ranks 9th (18) in total least amount of caught stealing. For caught stealing percent, a chart shows the situation better:
Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis & Edwin Encarnacion
This may have been Santana’s last season with Cleveland, but it was also his best season offensively since 2014 and his best defensively ever. As can be expected for a player who has been around as long as Santana has, he moved up the career leaderboards significantly this year, jumping to 11 in career home runs at 174, fourth in total walks at 726 and fifth in total strike outs with 812. Kipnis also joined Santana on that latter top 10, striking out 710 times for 9th most in team history.
Encarnacion neared some single season top tens, particularly home runs and walks, but the only one he jumped into was a career mark. Looking at all players with at least 500 at bats, he now ranks 5th all time in isolated power at .245 behind Albert Belle, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez and Juan Gonzalez.
As always, anything talking about bullpens needs a preface. As a team, the Indians didn’t really start using dedicated relievers until the 1950’s and didn’t start using them in the modern fashion until the 1980’s. Even then, today’s bullpen usage is completely different from that period and really didn’t start until the mid-2000’s. In addition, I’ll be mentioning holds, which didn’t exist as a stat until 1999.
Starting with usage, Bryan Shaw tied Bob Howry (2005) for second most times used in a season with 79. He now ranks first (2014), second (2017), eighth (2016) and ninth (2015) in Indians history. For his career, Shaw now ranks second in most times used as a reliever (378) and 8th among all pitchers. Cody Allen ranks first in most relief appearances (386) and 7th overall. Joe Smith ranks 7th (324) in relief appearances thanks to his addition to the team late in the season.
On to holds, one of the most hated stats ever as it came into existence just when decision stats started to fall out of favor. Shaw broke the previous Indians career mark that had been held by Smith and finished the season with 110. Smith remains second with the increased number of 97 while Andrew Miller already ranks 10th with 36 despite just a year and a half with the team. Cody Allen ranks 14th with 25 after adding six more this year while Zach McAllister ranks 15th with 24.
In addition to the career marks, both Miller and Shaw found themselves in the top ten for single season holds as can be seen below:
Included as well as total holds are the pitchers conversion rates for holds and saves combined for some context. Miller’s 93.5% this season ranks third among those in the top 12.
Speaking of Andrew Miller and converting saves and holds, he now ranks first in Indians history in doing so for a career at 95% (minimum of 25 opportunities). Behind him may be some surprising figures as Zach McAllister ranks third (93%), Cody Allen 7th (89.1%) and Joe Smith 10th (87.7%). Allen also ranks third in Indians history in save completion percent at 87%.
While he didn’t break into the top ten for single season saves, Allen still recorded 30, making him the second pitcher in Indians history to do so three times, following Doug Jones from 1988 through 1990. He now ranks 4th in career saves as well with 122 and 4th in opportunities at 140.
Corey Kluber & the K’s
When the Indians team set the record for most K’s in a season with the first K/9 above 10 as a team, you knew there had to be some impressive individual marks as well. To start, Andrew Miller’s 13.7 K/9 in 2017 was the highest in Indians history with a minimum of 60 innings (although he had a 14.3 last year in 29 IP). Danny Salazar also set a record for K/9 among pitchers with at least 100 innings at 12.7.
Much more impressive due to the workload, Kluber set the team record for highest K/9 in a qualifying season, besting Sam McDowell‘s 1965 mark of 10.7 by a full strike out per nine as he struck out 11.7. With these three, the Indians completely rewrote the single season K/9 book with new leaders at 60, 100 and 162 IP.
Looking at career K/9, somethings have changed as well, but you need to see the full list to fully appreciate it. Here are the top 14 pitchers in K/9 with a minimum of 300 innings:
While there’s an obvious advantage in a stat like K/9 in being a reliever, making the minimum 300 innings cleans out most of the riffraff. The active pitching staff makes up seven of the 14 spots with only Score and McDowell dating back earlier than the 2000’s. Although unlikely to reach 300 IP in Cleveland, Andrew Miller would rank #1 on this list with a career K/9 of 13.91 in 91.2 IP while Boone Logan (12.0 K/9), Nick Goody (11.96), Mike Clevinger (9.66) and Kyle Crockett (8.57) have all had great starts in their Indians careers based on K/9.
Looking at total K’s, Kluber came in 7th in Indians history with 265 this year, just behind his 2014 total of 269. He now ranks 6th (2014), 7th (2017), 13th (2015) and 19th (2016) for most K’s in a single season. For his career, Kluber now ranks 7th all-time with 1,201 while Carrasco ranks 13th with 896.
The Unhittable Corey Kluber
Missing bats is one thing, but what Kluber has done when hitters have made contact is truly criminal. While strike outs are at an all time high and have been steadily rising over the years, no pitcher has avoided batters reaching safely for the Tribe at Kluber’s level since Addie Joss. The Addie Joss who was the Indians first ace and died in 1911.
Before we go back that far, while it wasn’t a top 10 mark because of the dead ball era and the dead ball era part II (the 1960’s), Kluber’s 2017 ERA of 2.26 was the highest by an Indian since Gaylord Perry won the Cy Young in 1972. For similar reasons, his career ERA isn’t in the top 10, but among pitchers who threw at least 300 IP and pitched their entire Indians career from 1970 on, Kluber (3.13 ERA) ranks fifth behind Cody Allen (2.68), Perry (2.71), Doug Jones (3.07) and Bryan Shaw (3.12).
While ERA focuses on runs rather than hits, Kluber had an insanely good season there as well. He allowed the least amount of total hits ever by an Indians pitcher with at least 200 innings (141) and had the 7th best H/9 of qualifying pitchers at 6.2. This moved him to 19th in career H/9 at 7.8, just behind Bryan Shaw (17th place, 7.7 H/9) although both are well behind Allen, who comes in at 5th with a 7.1 H/9.
Adding walks into the mix, Kluber looks even more impressive. Joss set the Major League record for single season WHIP in 1908 with a 0.806 mark (since surpassed twice) and still holds the MLB record for career WHIP at 0.97. In 2017, Kluber had the best WHIP by an Indians pitcher since Joss in that 1908 season at 0.87. This mark ranks 19th in MLB history since 1901 and 10th best since 1920.
For his career, Kluber is again looking up at just Joss. He now ranks second in Indians history with a 1.09 WHIP with over 1,000 innings under his belt. Also in the top 20 among Indians with at least 300 innings are Allen (10th at 1.16), Shaw (16th at 1.19), Carrasco (19th at 1.20) and Josh Tomlin (20th and 1.21). Because this can’t be all positive, however, it should be noted that Tomlin also moved into a top ten this year. He has now allowed the 9th most home runs in an Indians pitching career.