As recently as 2014, Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber said he was never—not ever—recognized outside northern Ohio. He’d never made an all-star team, not even in the minors. That began to change when he won a Cy Young award later that year, and it all changed with his turn as the Indians’ ace in the 2016 World Series.
“It wasn’t just his starts—it was every bullpen session too,” said Cleveland pitching coach Mickey Callaway in 2014. “I was there for the 60 times he threw off a mound, and he was totally locked in each time. It was extraordinary.”
Still, not until recently did the deadpan Kluber have more than a cult following, except among meme creators who depicted him as “Klubot,” a cyborg. Nobody knew about his devilish two-seamer or his devilish pranks.
— Adapted from “Rise of the Machine,” Albert Chen, Sports Illustrated.