Will Jose Ramirez Duplicate His Breakout Season?
The 2016 season was a breakout season for Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians. Maybe we should have seen it coming? Now that it’s happened, the question is can he duplicate it?
In 2015, the 22-year old Ramirez was named the Cleveland Indians starting shortstop. He failed miserably. Maybe it was the pressure of the position or maybe it was the looming arrival of Francisco Lindor to take his place.
Through his first 46 games he was batting just .180/.247/.240 and was sent back to Triple-A. He’d return to the Tribe on August 3rd and hit .259/.337/.438 through his final 50 games (182 plate appearances) drawing 19 walks while striking out just 15 times.
2015 Opportunity Knocked, Ramirez Answered:
During 2016’s spring training, Ramirez familiarized himself in left field where he began logging innings. He opened the year splitting time between there and third base with Juan Uribe. He took advantage of the consistent playing time batting .305/.317/.424 in the seasons opening month.
By the end of the season, Ramirez had cemented himself as the Tribe’s everyday third baseman and posted a gaudy .312/.363/.462 line with 60 extra-base hits and 22 stolen bases.
This spring, with Jason Kipnis battling a shoulder injury, Ramirez is preparing to take over second base while Kipnis is on the mend. He has already proven that he can make the adjustment to multiple spots on the diamond, a position change to open the year shouldn’t result in added pressure.
Can He Repeat 2016?:
There are several reasons to believe that Ramirez’s 2016 wasn’t a mirage. Mainly, Ramirez stopped trying to pull the ball as often and began putting the ball in play to all fields.
In 2015, he had pulled the ball 44.2-percent of balls in play. This dropped to 39-percent last season and he also saw an increase in hard contact. His hard contact increased from 24-percent in 2015 to 26.8-percent in 2016. There was an even bigger change in soft contact from 19.4-percent in 2015 to 14.4-percent in 2016.
Spraying the ball around the diamond, in addition to solid contact increased his BABIP from .232 in 2016 to .333 in 2016. While the BABIP may drop a bit, it’s wouldn’t be surprising to see his numbers mirror his successful 2016 season.
The Indians, in a sign that they have bought in on Ramirez’s production, inked him to a 4-year, $26MM extension. The contract includes two club options that could push the total value of the deal to $50MM and keep him with Cleveland through his age 31-season.