Jose Ramirez is on the final ballot for MVP this year, which is truly, amazingly excellent recognition for a truly, amazingly excellent player. He joins Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. Placed in this company, the Indians infielder suddenly seems a bit inferior. Mike Trout might be on pace to be a two or three player of all time. Mookie Betts’ 2018 was one of the greatest years in history. In this context, it seems a little silly for Ramirez’s merely spectacular season to be included. but he belongs. In this conversation, and every conversation about baseball and its best players. At every step in his career, he’s proven he belongs. And the Indians are truly blessed to have him.
i can’t underscore that enough either. Yes, we all watched him all season, and all raved about his unabashed excellence, even to the point where it almost became old news. He was so excellent last year, got better, at this point we can only expect him to turn into a tiny Babe Ruth next year. If he stayed linear anyway. Or at least not have that relative fade at the end of the year, and post some kind of 9-10 WAR season. Two years ago, that would be absurd. Now? Maybe not.
Speaking of which, this year by Ramirez was, whether by rWAR or bWAR, the best season by an Indians hitter since at least 1990. Considering that’s the end of the Dark Times, and who played for the Tribe from then till now, that this is was the best player the Indians have had for a single season in their own modern era, that’s hard to wrap your head around.
And yet, here he is. As unlikely a star as you’ll ever find. He signed for $50 thousand as a total unknown from the DR, which looks like the bargain of the century now. Or it would, if not for his current contract. For all the kvetching from this site, other Indians-focused ones and of course the fanbase about how unaffordable Lindor and Bauer might become so, so soon, somehow their best player in 20 years got a bit over $2 million for his services in this incredible season of his. Of course he deserves more. The Indians read the hell out of those tea leaves before the 2016 season and now, amid a host of great deals, might have the best one on J-Ram.
Lindor is supposed to be the star, the face of the franchise that carries the Indians to a new brilliant future and seals himself in Cleveland lore as one of the greats. But let’s be real. It’s a business. He’s been told that enough, been told that that he deserves everything, and each year that passes makes it look like he’s going to Machado his way out of Ohio. It’s the great danger of top prospects. They know their value. Ramirez isn’t that. Sure, had he known what he was to become he’d have wandered through arbitration and gotten a billion dollar deal like Lindor wants. And he deserves it. They both do. But one of them did sign the deal, and gave Cleveland a true gift.
No, Jose Ramirez won’t win the MVP. He doesn’t deserve it. Whether you believe in best player or best-player-on-best-team, he falls short. But he’s the best the Indians have, and is the best they’ve had in quite a long time. That this ever gets forgotten - whether because we get used to it, or because he was pretty rough in September and October - is a travesty. It’s not often you get a guy who can play at an All-Star level defensively at multiple infield positions, hit like a DH, run like a leadoff guy, switch hit, and be as accepting of change as Jose is. He’s a truly unique player, the kind any team would sell the farm for. For all the praise heaped on Trout or Betts or Lindor or anyone, this is what a 5 tool player is. It doesn’t get much better than Ramirez, as evidenced by the MVP ballot. Maybe he’ll help the Indians to the Promised Land some day soon. Even if he’s not the vocal leader he is the might on the field. Maybe he won’t we’ll see. But god damn, is he not fantastic?