Alex Hudock

Jose Ramirez is a very good baseball player. This should not come as a surprise to Cleveland Guardians fans, nor anyone who has a pulse on MLB.

But just how good is Jose Ramirez?

Is he a Top 10 player in all of baseball? Does he really deserve to be a household name outside of Cleveland? And does he fall victim to the “small market” plague of dampened exposure and marketability?

It’s all too easy to butter-knife numbers on your favorite baseball statistics website to further an argument. However, the greats don’t require any cutlery; the numbers speak for themselves. So, how good is Jose Ramirez?

A quick look at the Fangraphs WAR leaderboard for the 2021 season will show you that Jose ranked 8th in all of baseball with 6.2 fWAR. Let’s take a look at a combination of the 2020 and 2021 season for a larger sample size. 

Over the past two seasons combined, Jose Ramirez has accumulated 9.8 fWAR, which is good enough for second in all of baseball, behind only Corbin Burnes (9.9 fWAR). Still, one could make an argument that a full season plus a 60 game (shortened) season does not necessarily equate to J-Ram being a Top 10 player in baseball. History has shown us time and time again how difficult it is to remain an elite player in the MLB.

Let’s add an additional year into the WAR calculations, and see how the Guardians third baseman fares. 

Over the past three seasons combined, Jose Ramirez has accumulated 13.4 fWAR, which earns him a tie for eighth place with Mookie Betts for the most fWAR. It’s difficult to decide where to start with this information:

1) That Jose Ramirez is a Top 10 player in all of baseball over the last three years when looking at fWAR

or

2) That he is tied for eighth place with Mookie Betts.

Betts of course signed a 12yr/$365M deal with the Dodgers back in 2020, and at age 29 has already earned an MVP, five All Star selections, five Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, and a batting title. Not too shabby for Mr. Betts, but even more impressive is the fact that statistically, Jose has gone toe-to-toe with him for the last three seasons.

While the measurement of fWAR may be a tie between the two, Betts has earned $52.5M since 2019, while JRam has cost the Guardians a dollar dog and a $2 Miller Lite each game ($20.4M).

What if I told you that Mookie Betts output could be purchased at a 61% discount? Would you be interested in opening up a new Cleveland Guardians credit card to unlock this one time deal? 

From 2018-2021, Ramirez ranks fourth in all of baseball, and that from 2017-2021, he ranks third in ALL of baseball in cumulative fWAR. The only players in front of him are some notable names in the sport – Betts, Jacob deGrom, and some guy named Mike Trout. Not only have these players collected four MVPs and two Cy Young awards, they’re also on deals large enough to pay off the national debt.

Meanwhile, some corners of baseball twitter would suggest that Cleveland fans should stop trying to compare Ramirez to Austin Riley, Nolan Arenado, or Rafael Devers.

It’s clear Ramirez is without a doubt a Top 10 player in MLB. Over the past five seasons, he’s peaked as high as #2, and dropped as low as #8 in cumulative fWAR. He continues to be a perennial MVP candidate, yet is anything but a household name.

Is it because he lacks swagger and pizzazz? If you’ve watched him play you’ve seen “the strut” as well as his lack of helmet attire when he’s on the bases. It can’t be that.

Is it because the Guardians haven’t been competitive in the last five years? Cleveland made the playoffs in 2017, 2018, and 2020, so it isn’t that.

Is it that the Guardians operate in a less big name market, with little national spotlight? Hard to say, but we know it’s not the first two.

Perhaps it’s a mix of the less exposure and MLB’s struggling marketing strategy to promote its star players to non-baseball audiences.

Regardless of the reasons as to why Jose Ramirez doesn’t shine as brightly as he deserves in the media, we know it certainly has nothing to do with lack of star power. We need to appreciate what Jose does not only for the Guardians, but for baseball as a whole while he’s still playing. At only 29 years old, with another 5-6 years of this output, we’ll start hearing whispers of, “we might be looking at a Hall of Famer”. No butter-knifing needed. 

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