The Indians had a historic 2017 season with an American League-record 22-game winning streak and their highest win total since 1954. And a historic team deserves recognition.
The Indians have eight nominees at this year's Esurance MLB Awards led by Jose Ramirez's nomination for Best Major Leaguer. Austin Jackson's terrific over-the-fence catch is also up for Best Play, Defense; manager Terry Francona for Best Manager; and president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti for Best Executive.
Additionally, right-hander Corey Kluber is nominated for Best Pitcher and shortstop Francisco Lindor up for both Personality of the Year and Best Postseason Moment. Announcer Tom Hamilton has also been nominated for Best Call, TV/Radio.
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor MLB's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five groups, each of which accounts for 20 percent of the overall vote: Media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, fans at MLB.com and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) members.
The MLB Awards are an all-inclusive program, encompassing the top players and performances from both the American and National Leagues from Opening Day through the end of the postseason.
Voting led off with seven categories on Sept. 18 at mlb.com/awards, serving as the grand entrance of a program that unveiled nominees for Best Call, TV/Radio; Best Major Leaguer, Postseason; and Best Postseason Moment following the Fall Classic's final out. The ninth inning of voting began around BBWAA Awards week, which opened when the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award winners were unveiled Monday, Nov. 13. Voting in the Best Executive, Best Rookie, Best Manager and Best Pitcher categories went live earlier this week, preceding balloting in the Best Major Leaguer category.
MLB Awards season will culminate Friday, when winners are announced live on MLB Network and MLB.com starting at 8 p.m. ET.
Ramirez proved to be one of the most versatile Major Leaguers as he split time between third and second base and put up All-Star numbers. He led the league with 56 doubles while setting career-highs in hits (186), runs (106), triples (6), home runs (29), RBIs (83), walks (52), batting average (.318), on-base percentage (.374) and slugging percentage (.583).
Jackson had a resurgent year at the plate in his first year with the Indians, but the biggest highlight came on Aug. 1 against the Red Sox. Hanley Ramirez hit a deep fly ball to right-center field, and Jackson leaped, caught the ball, flipped over the fence, and held on for a spectacular catch.
"That was one of the best catches I think I've ever seen," Francona said. "I've been in the game a long time. That's a hard wall out there and a lot of guys run away from it. Austin went up and over. That was one of the most exciting plays I've seen in a long, long time."
Francona is nominated for Best Manager again, a year after winning the award. His team was actually more dominant than the Indians team Francona took to the World Series in 2016, winning 102 regular-season games. That was the highest single-season win total of Francona's career, and the most in franchise history since 1954.
Antonetti took over the team's baseball operations in 2015 after the departure of Mark Shapiro and has maintained the team's American League ascent. He put his mark on the 2017 team with the signing of slugger Edwin Encarnacion to a three-year deal and Minor League signings such as Jackson. He also locked up part of the team's future before the season with a five-year extension for 2017 AL MVP nominee Jose Ramirez.
Kluber, who became the first Indians pitcher to win multiple AL Cy Young Awards when he was honored with his second trophy Wednesday night, put up the best numbers of his seven-year career in 2017. Kluber led qualified MLB starters with a 2.25 ERA and struck out a career-high 34.1 percent of batters he faced. He also set a team record by striking out at least eight batters in 14 straight games -- one short of Randy Johnson's single-season record.
Meanwhile, Lindor has established himself as one of the premier shortstops in baseball and has an outsized personality to match. Lindor chose "Mr. Smile" as his Players Weekend nickname and is widely known for his infectious personality and, of course, wide smile.
He also came through when his club needed him most. Trailing by five in the sixth inning of American League Division Series Game 2 vs. the Yankees, Lindor stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and launched a towering fly ball that clanked off the right-field foul pole to cut the deficit to one. The grand slam helped the Indians eke out an eventual 9-8 victory to put them up 2-0 in the series.
The drive sent the Cleveland crowd, and Hamilton, the Indians' radio broadcaster, into a frenzy. "He's done it again!" Hamilton exclaimed. A fittingly emphatic call for a truly emphatic homer.
"The way everyone battled and everyone got together, that was pretty special to watch," Lindor said after the victory. "And [it was] one of the most amazing experiences of my life."
Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter at @benweinrib. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.