It’s the scene you see in movies: a player walking up to his teammates and calling his shot in the dugout, then strutting up to the plate and actually doing […]
It’s the scene you see in movies: a player walking up to his teammates and calling his shot in the dugout, then strutting up to the plate and actually doing it. Typically, that scene is accompanied by the crowd going crazy.
In the adapted normal that 2020 has given us, there are no fans in the stands. Energy and confidence are difficult to generate. Well, for everyone except the player who, if he were in a movie, would play himself.
That’s Jose Ramirez, the Indians’ star third baseman who told Carlos Carrasco and company in Cleveland’s dugout on Sunday that in his ensuing at-bat, he would hit a home run.
Ramirez proceeded to hit a 378-foot bomb in the sixth inning, and another for good measure with a 405-foot shot in the following frame.
He is the energizer bunny. He is the constant. And now, he’s a candidate for American League Most Valuable Player consideration.
With the pair of homers in Sunday’s 7-4 win over the Tigers, Ramirez notched his fourth multi-home run game of the season. It also gave the 28-year-old four home runs on the four-game series against Detroit, a weekend set that Cleveland needed to get right during and did in taking three games.
The Tribe third baseman ranks in the Top-10 among AL players in OPS (.942), RBI (38), home runs (15), hits (56), slugging percentage (.574) and he’s even 12th in walks at 26.
Perhaps the most impressive of any figure for the man wearing #11 for the Indians is that Ramirez leads all positional players and is second to only Cy Young lock Shane Bieber (2.9) in Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement at 2.8.
All of these numbers only get enhanced when considering that Ramirez has played through a left thumb contusion as well.
“He’s one of those guys that COVID hasn’t even brought him down,” acting manager Sandy Alomar said of Ramirez on a media zoom call on Sunday. “He’s motivated all the time. We’re living in a new norm when everybody’s kind of down at times, but he’s the guy who sparks us all the time. He did a good job today.”
“He plays hard. I like the way he plays and the energy he has,” Carlos Carrasco said. “Every time, no matter what, if it’s good or if it’s bad, he just goes out there and plays hard baseball, and that’s what he’s been doing. It doesn’t surprise anyone. He said (on Sunday), ‘This pitch right here, I’m gonna take him out, and that’s what he did.”
Ramirez has the mean mug gameface, the “home run pitch” answers to Fox SportsTime Ohio reporter Andre Knott and the helmet counter, which The Athletic’s Zach Meisel keeps track of and currently has at 41, an incredible pace through 53 games.
But the amount of personality and swagger the Tribe’s third baseman carries himself with is backed up – and then some – in the way he plays.
Alomar was asked last week to look back on when Ramirez was first called up to the organization from Lake County in September of 2013.
“I remember him coming up, struggling a little bit, going back down, coming back up, having some more struggles then going back down and having some problems with his weight,” Alomar said. “Then all of a sudden, it clicked for him and he’s the player we have right now. He’s always been a grinder, but he had weight issues in the past. He controls those now. If you hit good, weight don’t matter.”
Ramirez appeared in 15 games in 2013, then 68 in 2014 filling in at second base primarily when Jason Kipnis was injured. Out of the fill-in, utility role, Ramirez grew into the everyday role in the AL pennant 2016 campaign and has directly correlated to Cleveland’s success ever since.
Finishing in third place in MVP voting in 2017 and 2018, it’s pretty remarkable that Ramirez could be heading towards a third top-three finish in the last four years.
“It’s the same approach. I never stop working,” Ramirez said when asked of how he’s gone about this season.
Whether it’s a 162-game marathon or the unprecedented 60-game sprint, nothing has stopped the Tribe’s heart and soul.
Photo: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports