Jose Ramirez hit another homer on Sunday, his 33rd of the year and one that gave him a share of the MLB lead. It was a towering three-run shot that helped propel the Indians over the Angels 4-3, padding their nine-game lead over the Twins in the AL Central.
Ramirez is having a ludicrous year, with an fWAR of 7.5—second in MLB, by 0.1, behind only Player of the Generation Mike Trout, who himself is having a career year. Along with his 33 homers, Ramirez has had career-high numbers in almost every notable offensive category, including the all-encompassing ones, like wOBA, wRC+ and OPS—all categories in which he’s in the top-four of all of MLB. Ramirez’s walk to strikeout ratio leads MLB, at 1.33, and his overall walk rate is more than six points higher than his previous career-high, attributing to his elite .409 on base percentage.
The switch-hitting slugger’s value isn’t just in his bat, though. His defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs, is the second-highest among all third basemen in MLB, with eight, only behind the A’s Matt Chapman, who is first in all of MLB in dRS. For reference, Ramirez put up 0 defensive runs saved in 2017, and still finished the season with a 6.7 fWAR.
The dude also steals bases, having notched 26—caught stealing just four times, an 86.67 percent success rate, well above the 75 percent or so threshold that makes one a valuable base stealer. This, too, is a career-high, and it, too, is the highest total in the AL.
Mike Trout has and will continue to doom many fantastic baseball players to seasons in which the only prize available to them will be a consolation: Best Player in The Game, Non-Mike Trout Division. It took a lengthy DL stint from Trout last season for Jose Altuve to pip him in the MVP race, and even then Trout still put the heat on him. How many MVP awards will Trout steal from poor Mookie Betts before all is said and done?
So it’s heartening to see a guy like Ramirez, who was already firmly ensconced in baseball’s non-Trout tier of excellence, making a run at the king so late in the season. It’s also kind of disgusting that the exponential improvements in power, plate discipline, defense, and base-running that Ramirez has implemented into his game this year aren’t enough to see him coast to an MVP award. Trout’s made that mountain harder to climb than any player since Barry Bonds, and even if Ramirez won’t ever see the summit, this year’s climb has been fun as hell to watch.