Corey Kluber and the greatest months in MLB history

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Another way of showing just how good Corey Kluber was last month...

On Sunday, I wrote about how Corey Kluber just became the first Indians pitcher since 1970 to record 60+ strikeouts in a calendar month. There have been a total of 16 such months in franchise history (almost all of them by Bob Feller and Sam McDowell). In the comments, I pointed out that of those 16 months, the previous low for walks was 17, by Feller in June of 1946. In May, Kluber walked only 8 batters, fewer than half Feller's total.

Not only had no Tribe pitcher ever put up 60+ strikeouts and fewer than 10 walks in the same month, Kluber became only the 10th pitcher on any team to do it since 1914 (records for monthly splits prior to then are incomplete):

  • Sandy Koufax (September, 1963), 60 Ks and 5 BBs
  • Juan Marichal (September, 1963), 60 and 6
  • Sandy Koufax (June, 1965), 64 and 9
  • Jim Kaat (September, 1967), 65 and 6
  • Fergie Jenkins (May, 1971), 65 and 8
  • Roger Clemens (July, 1988), 69 and 8
  • Roger Clemens (July, 1997), 61 and 9
  • Curt Schilling (July, 1997), 61 and 8
  • Kevin Brown (July, 1998), 60 and 7
  • Pedro Martinez (September, 1999), 70 and 6
  • Randy Johnson (July, 2001), 62 and 8
  • Curt Schilling (April, 2002), 61 and 6
  • Curt Schilling (May, 2002), 62 and 2
  • Curt Schilling (August, 2002), 63 and 9
  • Randy Johnson (August, 2004), 62 and 8
  • Corey Kluber (May, 2014), 60 and 8

(Before going any further, how about Curt Schilling's 2002 season? For the year, he had 316 strikeouts (no one has recorded that many since then) and gave up only 33 walks. In MLB history, a pitcher has had 300+ strikeouts 64 times. Schilling's 33 walks in 2002 are the fewest in any of those seasons.)

They say you're only as good as the company you keep. Well, Kluber is now keeping about as impressive a group of company as is possible for a pitcher. Clemens, Johnson, and Martinez were each among the dozen or so best pitchers ever, and the entire group has a case for the Hall of Fame.

Every single one of the nine guys before Kluber on that list made at least three All-Star teams, with an average of 7 appearances apiece. Eight of them finished in the top five of the CY Young balloting at least once (Marichal is the exception, and that's only because during his prime voters only listed one pitcher), with a total of 42 top-five finishes. Five of them won the Cy Young at least once, with a total of 19 trophies between them.

Clemens and Martinez are the only other guys on the list who did it in the American League after the DH was implemented, so they get bonus points, so Kluber is only the third guy to do that, with the other two both being among the top five pitchers of the last 40 years.

If there's any justice in the world, Kluber is going to play in his first All-Star Game next month. Hopefully he eventually maintains the standards of the group by becoming an All-Star at least a couple more times, and has some Cy Young votes in his future too.

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