General, Indians

A Hot Take Gone GOAT: Jose Ramirez is amazing and actually always has been

Cleveland Indians

There is a saying, nay a rule, online that goes like this: you can delete the tweet, but screenshots last forever. Usually, you see this rule applied to flip-flopping politicians or free agent signs with a new team that he previously trashed. I came across an instance of a writer having a take on a player and his inability to do anything productive for his team and now this player is amongst the top 10 players in the league. If the headline above didn’t fool you, that writer is me, and that player is Jose Ramirez.1

I like to think I’m a smart person and, by extension, a smart writer. I don’t make many “takes” so as to limit my public stances and be a little bit more objective in what I see. My going in on Michael Brantley’s option this winter and his subsequent good season being a prime example of why I don’t go out on a limb often. When this tweet came across my Timehop yesterday, 1) I cringed, 2)I was reminded we all have flaws, and 3) that more often than not, players need time to grow and develop.2

A deeper look into the history of he who is called GOAT shows a different picture than what my obnoxiously bad takes painted. Even as far back as 2015, the seeds of this MVP finalist and top third basemen in the majors in fWAR were present, just needed more time to develop into this majestic masterpiece. Let’s look at the tools he has and highlight his emergence as the best Indians player on the roster, Francisco Lindor and his newly minted AL Player of the Week award be damned.3

Batting Eye for the GOAT Guy

My tweet above was obviously anecdotal, as a look back on Ramirez’s 2015 shows an 11.5% strikeout rate coupled with a nine percent walk rate. For reference, had Ramirez gotten enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, he would have had the 17th lowest strikeout rate and a tie for 44th best walk rate. As the year went by, those numbers have gotten even better, as he now has a 12.1% walk rate (49th in the majors) and a 9.4% strikeout rate (3rd best in the majors). He also has the third lowest swinging strike rate in the majors at 4.0%. In an era where almost every hitter is selling out and swinging for the fences and the three true outcomes have made strikeout rates skyrocket, Ramirez has gotten better at NOT striking out.

Contactability

Going hand in hand with his good batting eye, Ramirez’s ability to put bat to ball is just another thing that has put him in the elite territory of hitters. Sporting a contact rate of 89.8%, Ramirez is second in all of baseball at getting at least something on the ball. The wrists of Ramirez are what help get the bat quickly through the zone and keeping himself alive. An 88.7 percentage is in line with Ramirez’s career, as he has never had a contact rate lower than 87% any year he has been in the league.

He Has The Power!!4 

This is the one area that was not as present in 2015 but has grown with the player as he ages. An ISO of .125 in 2015 is something you would see more connected with a slap hitter akin to Ichiro, and with his eye and contact, that would have made Ramirez a two-to-three-win plus type of player. However, in 2017, Ramirez took flight, much like his helmet, and started annihilating the ball. He would see his ISO climb up to .265 in 2017 and .277 in 2018, 17th best in the majors. A jump in his hard-hit rate would be the reasoning behind the acceleration, an 8% increase from 2015 to 2018. I mean just look at this home run from last night.

 

D-Fence *clap clap* D-Fence *clap clap*

Ramirez was brought up originally as *shudders as though I just remembered some war tragedy I was apart of* a utility infielder and has grown into being a plus defender at more than one position. Being used as mostly a middle infielder,5 Ramirez was the shortstop placeholder after Asdrubal Cabrera until Francisco Lindor had reached the Super Two designation had gotten enough seasoning in Triple-A Columbus. Ramirez has excelled in the field whichever position he has been placed at, even in the outfield in 2016. Now he patrols third like a cougar, making plays that most would not.

Wrap it up

When you combine the above traits, the batting eye, the contactability, the increase in power and exit velocity, you can see why Ramirez has been called the GOAT. Pair this batting profile, abilities that rival players like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, with Gold Glove defense at third, it’s no secret why Ramirez was third MVP voting in 2017 and will be near the top again in 2018. Now we can all understand why he is the GOAT.

  1. Does @OldTakesExposed still get credit if you out yourself? []
  2. As a side note, I have obviously changed my tune on Ramirez and was on the right side of history in a conversation amongst WFNYer’s Mike Hattery, Jim Pete, and Jeff Nomina in the district seats one game last year that will never stop being brought up by me. The argument was who is a better value for their deals, Carlos Carrasco or Jose Ramirez. Hattery and I sided with JRam, while Jim and Nom took Cookie. The debate rages on continually. []
  3. How about that for a take? []
  4. Like He-Man, get it? []
  5. His primary position was one he held most of last year, second base. []