Kluber finishes 3rd in AL Cy Young Award race

Kluber finishes 3rd in AL Cy Young Award race

Lost in the close American League Cy Young Award voting between former teammates Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander was the strong finish of their longtime rival. Indians ace Corey Kluber earned three first-place votes on his way to a third-place finish, his second top-three finish in three years.

With votes turned in at the end of the regular season, Kluber's role in the Indians' run to the World Series wasn't a factor. Still, his 18-9 record, 3.14 ERA and two shutouts along Cleveland's path to its first division title since 2007 didn't go ignored.

• Previous AL Cy Young Award winners

Kluber and Porcello were the only pitchers selected on all 30 ballots from members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America announced on Wednesday. In addition to the three first-place votes, Kluber received six votes for second place, a dozen for third, eight fourth-place selections and one for fifth.

AL Cy Young Award voting results
Pitcher, Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Pts.
Rick Porcello, Red Sox 8 18 2 1 1 137
Justin Verlander, Tigers 14 2 5 4 3 132
Corey Kluber, Indians 3 6 12 8 1 98
Zach Britton, Orioles 5 3 2 5 9 72
Chris Sale, White Sox   1 4 9 6 40
J.A. Happ, Blue Jays     3 2 1 14
Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays     1   3 6
Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees       1 4 6
Andrew Miller, Yankees/Indians     1     3
Michael Fulmer, Tigers         1 1
Jose Quintana, White Sox         1 1

Esurance MLB Awards week concludes Friday on MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 p.m. ET with the MLB Awards. Categories include Best Major Leaguer, Hitter, Pitcher, Rookie, Executive and Manager.

Kluber had a case for first-place votes. Among AL starters, Kluber finished first in Fielding Independent Pitching (3.26), second in bWAR (6.5 per Baseball Reference) and fourth in fWAR (5.1 per Fangraphs). He was among the top five in the AL in ERA, innings, strikeouts, WHIP (1.06), shutouts (two), opponents' average (.216), home runs per nine innings (0.9), strikeout percentage (26.4) and strikeout-minus-walk percentage (19.8).

A quadriceps issue cut short Kluber's regular season at the end of September. It's unclear if an extra start would've made much difference with voters, though it could've made a difference in the statistical closeness of the race. He fell an inning shy of qualifying for the win when he left his final start after four innings Sept. 26. A victory there, plus one more start in the final series of the regular season, could've given Kluber a 20-win season.

Nevertheless, with two strong cases in three years, the ace has forced himself into the conversation among the pitchers to watch going into next season.

"Corey has been building this now for four years here, and I think if you put yourself in that position [each season], sometimes you win," Indians manager Terry Francona said Tuesday. "He is now in that conversation with the best pitchers in the game because he's done it year after year, and I think that's the biggest compliment you can give anybody.

Kluber sees 2016 as special

"This guy's been pitching so many big games for us. He's one of the very best pitchers in the game."

Cleveland, meanwhile, ended up with finalists in three of the four BBWAA Awards. Francona won AL Manager of the Year on Tuesday. Tyler Naquin finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting on Monday. The Indians could end up with a top-10 finisher in AL MVP voting to be announced Thursday.

Jason Beck has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.