Streetsboro, Ohio. Population: 16,444.
If every individual person in this lovely suburban Akron community voted for Jose Ramirez to make the 2022 All-Star Game, it could make him the American League’s starting third baseman.
How? Ramirez currently finds himself in 2nd place in the vote with a grand total of 711,367 tallies in his favor. The lone patroller of the hot corner that stands in his way is Boston’s Rafael Devers who has amounted a total of 727,669 votes. The difference between them? 16,302 votes, a full 142 less than the self-proclaimed retail hub of Portage County.
This is quite literally the closest race in all of the All-Star voting, at least at the time of Major League Baseball updating its results on this past Tuesday. Seriously. This race is Florida in 2000 levels of close. The population that matches the disparity between first (Alejandro Kirk, Toronto) and second (Jose Trevino, New York) in the AL’s catcher voting is large enough that the Oakland Athletics would consider moving to a city with that many people. Rather than the population of Streetsboro, it matches the population of Las Vegas.
Fans have the opportunity to vote for the game’s starters through 1:59 PM Eastern on June 30th and they have quite the decision on their hands. Not only are Ramirez and Devers locked up in a battle for American League third base supremacy, but they are also the AL’s top two players in terms of Wins Above Replacement. Arguably, they are the two players that could be battling for the league’s Most Valuable Player Award from now until October.
In a current tale of the tape, Devers has sat in the two-spot in Boston’s order for most of the season. He finds himself in 3rd in baseball in runs scored (53) and is 5th in batting average (.328). His quality of contact, calculated by his expected wOBA stat (.406), outpaces Ramirez as well. Devers has a reputation as a bit of a butcher at third base but has at least stepped his game up to be respectable in 2022. He has been an average third baseman both by Statcast’s Outs Above Average and Fangraphs’ Defensive Runs Saved. For his efforts, the Red Sox are 39-31 and in the second AL Wildcard spot.
Ramirez though has impressed and outpaced Devers in numerous statistics. If you’re more of an old-school fan, know that Ramirez leads the entire AL in RBI (62) and has 11 steals (to Devers two). At the same time, his discipline at the plate is staggering. Ramirez has 34 walks to only 20 strikeouts on the season. He has provided that combination of patience and contact while also being third in all of baseball in slugging percentage (.636). While Devers’s expected wOBA might be better, Ramirez’s actual wOBA is better- meaning he has had better results at the plate than Boston’s third baseman. Meanwhile, Ramirez has hit in the heart of Cleveland’s order all season. He has been instrumental in pushing the Guardians to a 35-28 record. That has put them in sole possession of first in the AL Central with a nearly identical winning percentage to the Red Sox.
Ultimately though, maybe the difference between Devers and Ramirez is personality.
I hold absolutely no ill will towards Devers. I don’t have any type of strong inclination toward what he is like as a personality on and off the field. What I do know though is that Hosey’s character is one of the best-kept secrets in all of baseball. I have already talked at length about how he has embraced Cleveland and committed himself to this city for the long term. But he is also one of the most engaging, fun and exuberant characters in the sport.
His George Jefferson strut, his helmet flying off as he turns and burns for the next base on the base paths, his energy and intensity in the dugout when his teammates are hitting or he is having an off-day, his burning desire to be in the lineup and contributing at all costs. It’s all part of the package.
And there’s no doubt in my mind that that package deserves to be showcased in the Mid-Summer Classic. So Streetsboro (and everyone else out there!), I am imploring you! Vote for Jose!