Cleveland Indians: Is Jose Ramirez the best third baseman in the AL?

Jun 4, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11) runs toward home in the fourth inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 4, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11) runs toward home in the fourth inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez continues to perform at an MVP-level, but is he the best third baseman in the American League?

Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez rapidly developed into the Tribe’s most consistent hitter. The stocky, charismatic Ramirez is far removed from his 2015 season — one that opened the door for shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Ramirez began the 2015 season as the Tribe’s shortstop on Opening Day — and immediately struggled. Before being demoted to Triple-A Columbus, Ramirez held a putrid .176 batting average and posted just 36 total bases in 153 at-bats.

He then returned after a promotion back to the big-league club — batting .280 in the month of September with four home runs and 11 RBI. As I discussed earlier this season, Ramirez followed up his 2015 season with an MVP-caliber 2016 campaign.

Additionally, he also finished 17th in AL MVP voting that season. When considering Win Probability Added (WPA), Ramirez should have finished higher. He ranked seventh in the AL in WPA — a significant accomplishment for the 5-foot-9 spark plug. Ramirez’s ascension has been incredible to watch.

When comparing Jose Ramirez’s statistics to other AL third baseman, it’s difficult to deny his elite status at the position. Sure, racking up 27 hits in his last 59 at-bats heading into play Monday bolsters my argument — but Ramirez shows no signs of slowing down. The offensive categories he either leads, or nearly leads, among AL third baseman are staggering (statistics according to, through 6/26).

CategoryRamirezRank among AL 3B

Just for a minute, let the magnitude of Ramirez’s statistical superiority over AL third baseman sink in. Also, ponder the talent the AL possesses at the hot corner, including: Manny Machado, Miguel Sano, Evan Longoria and Todd Frazier.

Several statistics among all AL-qualified hitters in which Ramirez appears among the leaders display his incredible impact on the game — and his MVP candidacy.

CategoryRamirezRank among qualified AL hitters

Ramirez hits for average, shows discipline at the dish and drives the ball statistically better than any third baseman in the AL (I just want to make it abundantly clear I have not forgotten New York Yankees rookie sensation Aaron Judge). Currently, Judge is the undisputed AL MVP —  but Ramirez is a top-three candidate.

Ramirez’s candidacy is not based on his leading every offense category — that would be Judge. Rather, the Tribe’s third baseman does all the “little things” which often go unnoticed, but show up in several advanced statistics at the top of the AL leaderboard (statistics according to

  • Offensive WAR (2.7), AL Rank- 8th: Ramirez ranks eighth among AL hitters in offensive WAR — with just 12 home runs and 35 RBI on the season. How does a player like Ramirez rank ahead of Sano (BA- .278/HR-18/RBI-52), Logan Morrison (BA- .251/HR-22/RBI-54) and Nelson Cruz (BA- .291/HR-14/RBI-58)? The answer is his superior base running skills and ability to make productive outs. With eight stolen bases, Ramirez is always a threat on the bases. His 38 strikeouts are also the 15th fewest in the AL, allowing for productive outs — unlike Morrison, Cruz and Sano.
  • Runs Created (58), AL Rank- 5th: Runs created accounts for the total runs a player contributes to his team’s total. In other words, Ramirez averages 7.6 RC per game — meaning a lineup consisting entirely of J-Ram would score almost eight runs per game. The high total is attributed to his ability to make productive outs and taking the extra base when the opportunity is presented (although, his .326 batting average doesn’t hurt).
  • Line-Drive Percentage, (30 percent), AL Rank- 8th: Bat-to-ball ability is a commodity in today’s MLB — not the norm. With the eighth best strikeout percentage in the AL (12.5 percent), his offensive productivity is not shocking.
  • Extra Base Hit (XBH) Percentage, (13.2 percent), AL Rank- 1st: This statistic means 13.2 percent of Ramirez’s plate appearances end with extra bases. Judge, the aforementioned AL MVP favorite, is second in the AL at 12.9 percent. Yes, Jose Ramirez is that good.

At 24, Ramirez is beginning to look like a budding superstar — the proof is in the statistics, and numbers do not lie. If Ramirez continues on his torrid pace, he could very well force his way into a top-three finish on the AL MVP ballot — but only if he garners the national attention he deserves.

So, is Ramirez the best third baseman in the American League?

Yes — he absolutely is. The numbers laid out above exhibit Ramirez’s consistency compared to his peers — but the All-Star voting shows he is yet to become a household name.

AL Third Base-ASG Votes (, most recent results)

  1. Miguel Sano: 1,550,240
  2. Jose Ramirez: 1,341,076
  3. Josh Donaldson: 1,191,244
  4. Mike Moustakas: 1,067,150
  5. Manny Machado: 946,013

Ramirez has cut Sano’s lead in half since the last update, which signals the always-entertaining J-Ram is gaining more attention — but not the proper amount. If Ramirez is to make a serious run at at a high-finish in AL MVP voting, starting the Midsummer Classic at the hot corner could kickstart his second half campaign.

There is little doubt Judge will win the AL MVP. Plenty of baseball is to be played, but barring injury, it seems to be a foregone conclusion.

Next: Austin Jackson's subtle impact

The point is Ramirez should seriously be considered when discussing the MVP award — and at the very least, receive proper credit for his being the best third baseman in the AL.