Corey Kluber deserves to be an All-Star this season. I mean, there are a few weeks until the rosters are named, and so it's completely possible that by the time that day arrives he doesn't deserve to be, but right now... he does.
He's not the only Indians player you can say that about. Jason Kipnis just had maybe the best month MLB has seen all decade, and has by far the best numbers of any AL second baseman; Michael Brantley has't been quite as good as he was in 2014, but is still hitting really well, and could certainly be put among the top 6-8 outfielders in the AL; Trevor Bauer is having the best season of his young career, and has an argument for deserving a spot too.
I'm drawn to Kluber's case though, because his case is a great example of how misleading certain stats can be, if looked at without any context.
Kluber has a 3-5 record. If he's 4-7 a month from now, I have to think he's going to be left off the team, because I'm not sure America is ready for a starting pitcher with that record to make the team. Kluber really hasn't been much different than he was last year though, when he won the Cy Young. (Notably, Kluber wasn't an All-Star last season either, but that's a whole other story.) There's an argument to be made, in fact, but Kluber has been even a bit better than he was in 2014.
Kluber has taken his already tremendous strikeout rate from a year ago and added a full K per 9 innings to it. He's also walking fewer hitters, and giving up only mildly more home runs. His FIP last season was 2.35; right now his FIP is 2.31, and he's averaging slightly more inning per start this year too.
That he's only won three games is largely a matter of his teammates having failed, be it the offense not scoring, the defense not fielding, or the bullpen not holding leads.
Kluber's ERA of 3.52 is good but not great, but the defense behind him is somewhat to blame for that, along with perhaps some bad luck on balls in play, as evidenced by Kluber's .351 BABIP against (which the defense has something to do with as well). That 2.31 FIP though, it leads the American League; his 11.27 strikeouts per 9 innings rank him 2nd (behind teammate Danny Salazar). His walk rate (1.53 per 9) ranks 4th.
Kluber leads the AL in FanGraphs' version of WAR, and while that doesn't mean he's been the very best pitcher in the league, it points out how well he's doing at the things a pitcher has the most control over. Dock him a little bit for the runs he's given up that FIP doesn't account for, but he still stands out as one of the 6 or 7 best arms in the league this year. I'm not sure if a trip to Cincinnati is Klubot's dream vacation, but it's a trip he deserves.
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