“This just in, José’s pretty good,” said a smirking Terry Francona following José Ramírez’s breakout game of the season on Wednesday.
It’s not breaking news to anybody that follows Cleveland baseball that José Ramírez is amazing, but it’s nice to get a reminder every once in a while that he is one of the best hitters that we have in baseball. His clobbering of the Royals yesterday marked the 17th time in his career that he hit two home runs in a game, and the second time he’s done it against the Royals in the last calendar year.
As Shane Bieber put it after the game, there’s just no off-switch for the GOAT.
“It never turns off, you know what I mean,” said Bieber, “whether it’s going good or it’s not he’s the same guy and he brings that same energy. That’s why we rely on him so much, not just physically but as a leader in the clubhouse, the way he goes about everything. Really can’t say enough about a guy who comes up in big moments like he did today. That’s why he’s our guy.”
The career leaders in multi-homer games are among the elite of elite hitters: Babe Ruth leads with 72, followed by Barry Bonds (71), Sammy Sosa (69), Mark McGwire (67), and Willie Mays (63) to round out the top five. Turns out setting home run records requires having a lot of multi-hit games.
It’s fair to say that Ramírez isn’t going to reach that level, but his ability to carry Cleveland’s lineup on his back, especially in recent years, has been impressive. Since his debut in 2013, only a handful of players have more multi-home run games than Ramírez. It’s another Who’s Who of great sluggers: Edwin Encarnacion leads the way with 29, followed by Nelson Cruz (28), Giancarlo Stanton (26), Khris Davis (26), Manny Machado (25), Josh Donaldson (20), and Nolan Arenado (20).
Since 2017, when Ramírez really turned it on as a power hitter, only Manny Machado’s 18 multi-homer games tops Ramírez’s 17.
Everyone will hit one out of the park once in a while, but to do it multiple times in a game, dozens of times, is something reserved for only the game’s best hitters. It’s probably not a skill to specifically hit multi-homer games, but it sure is hard as hell to do.
It took Ramírez only fives games to record his first multi-homer game this year, after doing so four times in 2020, three times in 2019 and 2018, and six times in 2017. He didn’t waste much time last year, either, hitting a pair of home runs against the Royals just a little over a week after 2020’s July 17 Opening Day. If his recent run of being a home run threat is any indication, this is far from his last multi-homer game of the season.
His biggest statistical performance — not necessarily one where he carried the team — was when he racked seven runs batted in along with two homers against the White Sox in Sept. 2019. He also did it in just three plate appearances, his fewest of any multi-homer game, after he was pulled late in a blowout 11-0 win.
Several multi-homer games have come in similar blowouts. His two homers (and a pair of walks), helped Cleveland blowout the Yankees, 19-5, on Aug. 15, 2019. He also backed Carlos Carrasco with a pair of homers in a 19-4 blowout of the Reds in 2018, and he dominated the Tigers in 2017 as part of an 11-1 win.
Wednesday was the lowest scoring output for Cleveland in any Ramírez multi-homer game — probably because he was the only one to drive in any runs. And because I know there is no way you’re sick of seeing José Ramírez hit home runs, how about we review them?
His first came in the sixth against Jesse Hahn. At this point, another outstanding Bieber start looks like it was being wasted. Down 1-0, with Cesar Hernandez on base, Hahn threw a sinker that saw a bit too much of the plate. It was launched 355 feet at 107.9 mph and has since retired to a nice farm in Iowa somewhere, where it will someday tell its great-grandkids about the time he encountered the GOAT himself.
The next came two innings later off of Greg Holland, after James Karinchak allowed a run to score in the top of the seventh. Ben Gamel walked to lead-off the inning, and with a tie game and time running out, José took another pitch over the plate — this time a slider — and blasted it 367 feet at 108.2 mph with the effort of a man who didn’t want to see his first home run go to waste.
Game. Set. Match. Home run pitch.