AL Cy Young award: Corey Kluber and the art of being very good

Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Corey Kluber has been excellent for the Cleveland Indians during the 2017 season. ┬áHe’s been the anchor for Cleveland’s starting staff that currently has the team leading the AL Central.

Kluber the is pitching 2.71/2.48/2.43 in 139.2 innings this season. The 31-year old has continued to be very good, bordering on excellent, this season. He’s currently posting highs in strike outs per nine and ground ball rate, while also being walking a similar number of batters per nine that Kluber has given up throughout his career. Somehow, he’s even managed the home run problem that most starting pitchers have had this season — so far Kluber is giving up 0.97 home runs per nine innings, the AL average for starters is 1.35.

So how has Cleveland’s ace been so good at limiting the damage from dingers while also improving his strikeout rate? He’s been keeping the all low and away to righties, but inside and low to lefties.

When Kluber gets ahead in the count, he throws his pitches even lower.

Because of his ability to locate pitches low in the zone, Kluber is generating weak contact at the highest rate since his rookie year — in 2011 26.7% of batted balls were cnsidered weak contact, in 2017 it’s 22.2%.

All of this means that Kluber has been a very good pitcher this season, arguably the second best pitcher in the majors. And he’s major reason Cleveland is (probably) going to repeat as division champions

Quick hits

We take a quick look at how Corey Kluber ranks in some of the major statistical categories compared other AL starters, and the rest of baseball.

Stat AL Ranking MLB Ranking
12.37 K/9 2nd 2nd
1.93 BB/9 3rd 7th
2.71 ERA 2nd 5th
2.49 FIP 2nd 2nd
2.43 xFIP 1st 1st
5.0 fWAR 2nd 2nd

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