The historic 22-game winning streak for the Cleveland Indians has given them national attention unlike ever before. With all of this new-found attention, many are taking notice as to how great so many of the Indians have been, not just during the streak but the entire season. Now that the Indians are the talk of baseball, Jose Ramirez has emerged as one of baseball’s most exciting young superstars and is poised to be a legitimate candidate for this season’s AL MVP Award.
Jose Ramirez did not start this season as a household name across the country. Obviously, here in Cleveland, Ramirez had already become a fan favorite but didn’t get the same national attention as a Corey Kluber or Francisco Lindor. Now with the Indians as the hottest team in baseball and Ramirez ranking highly in several statistical categories, the rest of the world has taken notice.
Ramirez is currently having the best season of his career with a stat line of .314 batting average, 27 home runs and 75 runs batted in. His advanced stats are even more impressive with a WAR of 5.9, a slugging percentage of .576 and an OPS of .944. Ramirez truly is having a MVP-caliber year. His impressive stats put him amongst the best in the AL, ranking 5th in batting average, 5th in hits, 5th in WAR, 3rd in OPS, 2nd in slugging percentage, 10th in OBP, 4th in runs scored and 1st in doubles.
Even with Ramirez’s very impressive offensive numbers, many still believe that Jose Altuve, 2nd baseman for the Houston Astros, is more deserving of the award because of his numbers, which are also very good. Altuve is currently leading the league with an incredible .347 batting average, which many believe is good enough to give him this award. However, this is where the term “Most Valuable Player” comes into the mix. The award MVP doesn’t necessarily mean the best player, but more so the player who is most important to the success of his team and there is no player more important to their team than Jose Ramirez.
It isn’t just the offensive outpouring from Ramirez that makes his so valuable to the Indians, even though that is very important as he has been their best hitter all season long. No, for Ramirez, what he is able to bring to the Indians defensively is what truly puts him ahead of the rest of the AL MVP candidates. Ramirez has a stellar glove and has once again shown that this season playing where manager Terry Francona has needed him. While primarily a 3rd baseman, Ramirez has also spent time at both 2nd base and the outfield, plugging any holes the Indians may have had, whether due to injuries or rest. Aaron Judge has only played in right field, Mike Trout just center field and Jose Altuve strictly 2nd base. Ramirez is the only one of the candidates to spend quality time at numerous positions this season and that is what puts him a step above the rest of the candidates.
While everyone in Cleveland knows Ramirez’s overwhelming value to his team, it’s very pleasing to see the rest of the baseball world take notice. Ramirez has emerged himself as one of baseball’s best players and at only 24-years-old will only be getting better. With Ramirez a top MVP candidate, Kluber leading the way for the CY Young and the Indians the team to beat, there has never been a better time to be a Cleveland Indians fan.
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Photo courtesy of Getty Images, USA Today