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Corey Kluber and Carlos Santana lead Cleveland Indians to seven-game lead over Tigers

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Exercise your democratic rights.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports


The Cleveland Indians went 4-3 last week, and while a split against Houston and a series victory against last-place Minnesota (giving the Tribe a victory in the season series against the Twins, against whom they struggled mightily early in the year) may not seem like much, when combined with the Tigers losing each of their two series last week, the Indians are heading into the final three weeks of the season with a seven-game lead in the Central.

Which players did the most to help the team’s cause as they got closer to what would be their first division title in nine years?

The Candidates

Lonnie Chisenhall

Chisenhall hit .421/.450/.526 with a wRC+ of 166 in 20 plate appearances. He hit safely in six of the team's seven games, and scored a run in five of them. He had three hits in Wednesday's win over Houston, including an RBI single. He also had a game-tying two-run double in Friday night's win.

Corey Kluber

Kluber (one of the strongest contenders in a crowded AL Cy Young field) wasn't quite his best on Tuesday, going seven innings and recording nine strikeouts, but also walking three and allowing four earned runs. On Sunday he went seven innings again, this time allowing only an unearned run, with ten strikeouts. For the week he had a 2.57 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 14 innings.

Francisco Lindor

Lindor hit .357/.406/.393 with a wRC+ of 118 in 32 plate appearances. He had four multi-hit games during the week, giving him 53 of those this season, and had a three-hit game on Wednesday, giving him an MLB-best 23 of those. (It's been 80 years since an Indian had that many.) In Thursday's win over Houston, Lindor singled in a run in the third, then singled in two more in the fourth.

Carlos Santana

Santana hit .269/.424/.654 with a wRC+ of 183 in a team-high 33 plate appearances. It was a classic Lando Carlossian week, as he had as many walks (7) as hits, powering him to a modest batting average but excellent OBP. He had three home runs during the week as well, including his 30th of the season on Thursday, and then a three-run blast that left Target Field to open the scoring in Sunday's win.

The Winner

I think Santana was pretty clearly the biggest contributor among the position players, which means it comes down to him or Kluber. A pitcher who goes seven innings every game and posts a 2.57 ERA would almost certainly win the Cy Young, and a batter who puts up a wRC+ of 183 in a league-leading number of plate appearances while hitting three home runs a week would almost certainly win the MVP. It's sort of like comparing Clayton Kershaw with Mike Trout. Both are so great! My a thin margin, I'll side with Trout... er, I mean Santana.

Congratulations for the third time, Carlos!

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