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Where Would the Guardians Be Without Jose Ramirez?
There may not be a more surprising team fighting for the playoffs than the Cleveland Guardians. However, it should come as no surprise that Jose Ramirez is at the heart of Cleveland’s unexpected success.
Now in his 10th season, Ramirez is on pace for his best numbers yet. Thanks to him, the Guardians are 34-28 — winners of eight of their last 10 — and sit just two games out of first place in the AL Central. Naturally, it’s fair to wonder where the Guardians would currently be without Jose shouldering the load on offense.
Jose Ramirez’s MVP-Caliber Season
Following a disappointing 2019 season, Ramirez finished second and sixth in MVP voting for 2020 and 2021, respectively. This year, J-Ram is on track for another top-three finish and perhaps his first victory.
Entering Friday, the 29-year-old is slashing .306/.399/.649, giving him a career-best 1.048 OPS. The only players in all of MLB with a higher OPS are Paul Goldschmidt (1.070) and Aaron Judge (1.063), meaning Ramirez is besting 2021 MVPs Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.
As far as the traditional stats go, Ramirez leads baseball with 62 RBI. He also has nearly as many home runs (16) as strikeouts (19) and 34 walks, more than all but three hitters in the American League.
Ramirez is still a considerable underdog behind Judge for AL MVP odds. Yet the third baseman actually has the highest offensive WAR in baseball (3.8) according to Baseball Reference, besting Judge’s 3.6 offensive WAR.
The Guardians are Lucky to Have J-Ram
It’s no coincidence that Cleveland's best stretch of the season coincides with Ramirez going on an absolute tear at the plate.
Cleveland’s 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday was its 13th win in 16 games. Ramirez went 1-4 with a double, becoming the first player since Joey Votto in 2020 to have eight straight games with an extra-base hit. He’s now hitting .344 with four homers, 14 RBI, and nine doubles over the club’s phenomenal 16-game stretch.
Baseball is a team game, as we all know. As good as Ramirez has been, Cleveland wouldn’t be in playoff contention without some clutch performances from its other hitters as well as its top-ten pitching staff. However, if you took J-Ram off of the Guardians altogether, this is a .500 team at best.
Unsurprisingly, the three-time Silver Slugger leads Cleveland in every offensive statistic. His 16 home runs more than double the seven homers hit by runner-ups Andres Gimenez and Josh Naylor. His 62 RBI nearly double Naylor’s 34, while 61 total bases separate Ramirez (144) and second-place Gimenez (83).
Ramirez’s overall power must be commended, as should his speed and plate discipline. Myles Straw’s 30 walks sit just behind Ramirez’s 34, while the two are also tied for the team lead with 11 stolen bases. However, eight Guardians have more punchouts than Ramirez’s 19, even though the All-Star leads the team in at-bats.
J-Ram has delivered all season, but his recent surge is carrying the Guardians into the playoff picture. The fact he’s played in all 59 of Cleveland’s games this year further shows how valuable he is in the club’s quest to return to the playoffs.
Simply put, Ramirez is the No. 1 reason to tune into Guardians games this summer.
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