Cleveland Indians: MVP vote makes early playoff exit harder to bear

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 06: Corey Kluber
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 06: Corey Kluber /

The Cleveland Indians were all repressed in the AL MVP vote, but all the final tally does is remind Tribe fans of how their team faltered in October.

The BBWAA named Jose Altuve as the American League MVP, but the voting had fans of the Cleveland Indians celebrating as three Tribe players finished in the top 10.

Those players were Jose Ramirez (third), Francisco Lindor (fifth) and Corey Kluber (seventh).

The small market, small payroll, Cleveland Indians had three players finish in the top 10 of the MVP voting? Pinch me. I’m dreaming. Actually, I’m still living in a nightmare.

Social media is pro Tribe, as it should be. Goat emoji’s are popping up everywhere and new battalion of Klubot’s just got activated.

All of this is great news for the Tribe. The days of Shelley Duncan, Jason Michaels and David Bellucci aren’t that far back in the rear-view mirror.

But the Tribe’s finish in the MVP voting, on top of Kluber’s Cy Young Award win, make it harder to fathom this 102-win ball club, which won 22 straight, couldn’t get out of the of the first round of the playoffs.

Think about how frustrating the playoffs were for the Tribe’s MVP contenders.

If you knew nothing about the regular season and only attended the Tribe’s five-game playoff stint, you would’ve seen Kluber post a 12.79 ERA in 6.1 innings spanning two starts. Imagine being told Kluber won the Cy Young with a regular season stat line that read 18-4, 2.25 ERA, .87 WHIP.

You wouldn’t believe it was the same guy.

Jose Ramirez, the GOAT, hit .318 with 29 homers, while leading the AL with 56 doubles during the regular season. Against the Yankees, JRAM hit .100 in 22 plate appearances. He didn’t have an extra-base hit.

Lindor, at least, had a moment. His grand slam in Game 2 probably helped the Indians extend the series to a full five games. Those four runs are the only RBIs Lindor would produce. He hit .111 against the Yankees, and accounted for just five total bases.

The Indians will enter the 2018 season with high expectations, and will probably be picked to win the AL Central.

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Big questions surround Kluber, as fans and media alike wonder if the Tribe’s ace was battling some sort of arm or shoulder ailment, which would explain his poor playoff performance.

This group of Indians have now been to a World Series, losing in seven games, and followed that up with Division Series loss. Regular season stats are great, but the playoffs is what ultimately defines a team. Just ask Alex Rodriguez, who got beat up, and then dragged over coals, and beat up again for his lackluster playoff appearances.

The Tribe should be feeling the pressure to win following that disastrous ending, because as 2017 proved, all the regular season accolades are great, but it doesn’t mean a thing unless you win the ring.

Some might disagree, and that’s OK. The Indians were such a joke from 1960-1993 that there’s a big sect of fans who just enjoy the Tribe being competitive. Who can blame them? Summers are always better when the Indians give you a reason to watch.

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But to fulfill Tribe Town, whose hunger for a world title goes all the way back to 1948, the Indians’ MVPs need to play like it in October, and until they do, small victories during award season just won’t mean that much.