Through the regular season, BurningRiverBaseball ran polls in the 8th inning of each game, to determine via fan vote, who the top player(s) of the games should be. Being that we are now done with the regular season and just at the cusp of the playoffs, it’s fair to take the results and announce who the Tribe Top Player, Top Pitcher and Tribe Top Rookie are for the season overall. This is not a scientific poll by any means, strictly done based on the responses and opinions of the fans at the time of each game.
How did we score the results? In each poll, four players were chosen by the respective writer covering the postgame. Twitter would then vote for who they believed was the most productive or most influential piece of the Indians that game, and the top three players with the most votes would be that game’s top three.Honorable mentions were also given for any late-game heroics.
Over the course of the season, tallies were taken for each player who received votes for first, second, and third. For a first star, they would receive three points, for a second star, two, and for a third star they would only receive one point.
Regarding the points, the season ended in a tie at 97 between short stop Francisco Lindor and INF Jose Ramirez. When talking about the player who got the most first star votes (20), that was starting pitcher Corey Kluber, and in the running for the rookies, CF Bradley Zimmer blew passed them all with the most points and first start ratings (eight first stars, 34 points).
Francisco Lindor started off the season on a slow note, trying to find his balance adding power at the plate. Luckily, as the theory goes, when you’re putting up good at bats, you’ll eventually make contact, and when you start making that contact, eventually that will turn into the hits you want. Trust the process, which is exactly what he did, and in the second half he’s looked like the Lindor we’ve come to know and love. He deserves to share the stage with Ramirez, however, in the regular season, Ramirez overall contributed more to the Indians success from start to finish than Lindor.
Ramirez comes off of a very hot 2016 and stunned everyone. Who would have thought he would do it again, but even better, in 2017? On top of taking over at second when previous 2B stater, Jason Kipnis, went on the DL, then moved to CF. Ramirez finished the regular season leading the MLB in doubles (56), and finished in the top ten (9th) with a .318 BA. As far as a team aspect, he lead throughout the season in average, runs (107), SLG (.583), OPS (.957), hits (186), and triples (6). He has become a leader out of the shadows and refuses to relinquish that title any time soon. Ramirez’ name has bounced around baseball media and fans when talking about MVP. His biggest, and probably only, real competition for this is Houston Astro’s Jose Altuve, who has also put together a remarkable season. Whether the Indians star infielder gets the MVP honors or not, he’s at MVP in The Land and without a doubt the Tribe Top Player for the season.
Cleveland’s Ace starter, Corey Kluber, being the Tribe Top Pitcher for the season shouldn’t surprise anyone. Even after missing a month in the start of the year, Kluber has been able to pitch himself into another Cy Young type season, and led Cleveland to their second consecutive postseason. His 18 wins tops the American League (shared with other Indians starter Carlos Carrasco and Royals starter Jason Vargas), as does his ERA (.2.25) and sub-one 0.87 WHIP. He’s also the ONLY starter in the AL with an opposing average below .200, third in baseball (.193). Kluber’s emotionless demeanor rounds out why he is such an effective pitcher, keeping his cool no matter the situation. He doesn’t crack under pressure, and rarely has he pitched into a mess someone else had to clean up. He goes out there to get the job done and nothing else, and it works.
Finally, the Tribe Top Rookie. It was a year with many exciting call-ups from the Indians minor leagues, from Yandy Diaz coming up to play third, to catcher Francisco Mejia and OF Greg Allen making it to the show in September, it’s been a fun time watching these guys help the club. But there is one who has contributed to this team more than any rookie this season, and that is CF Bradley Zimmer. He debuted in the middle of May, and quickly showed the Indians and the fans why he should be a need for this team, checking off both his first major league hit and home run boxes in his second game played on May 17th. On the base path and in the field, the 6ft 5inch outfielder used his legs and speed to the limits, stealing 18 bases (caught once) and learning to fly across centerfield, making some of the best catches of the season. He ended his first regular season in early September after sliding head first into 1B on a reactionary decision, leaving him with a banged up head and a fractured bone in his left hand, putting him on the DL for 4-6 weeks. He probably won’t finish in the top for Rookie of the Year, with guys like Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Dodgers Cody Bellinger hanging around, but no one can deny that he helped a great deal in getting Cleveland back to October.
It has been a season not only for the record books, but one for Indians fans to remember for the rest of their lives. They’ve put everything they have on the field, and it’s resulted in another chance at the World Series title. BurningRiver highlights the Tribe Top Three, however, it was without a doubt a full team effort that got Cleveland back to October, and it will be that full team effort that will lead them towards that glorious trophy at the end of the road.