The Cleveland Indians’ third baseman blasted his 30th home run against the Texas Rangers on Friday night. This dinger was significant for a couple reasons. First of all, it’s temporarily given him the league lead over J.D. Martinez. Second of all, he’s now set a new career-high mark for a single season.
Given his physical attributes — he’s listed at 5’9″ and 165 pounds — he’s joined an interesting club.
That was just the start of the cool things his 30th homer signified, though. It’s only taken Ramirez 95 games (425 plate appearances) to collect 30 homers and 20 stolen bases. He’s only missed one game thus far in 2018, meaning he’s also a part of yet another exclusive club.
But wait — there’s more.
Let’s not forget that Ramirez is a switch-hitter — the 25-year-old has hit 25 of his 30 dingers against right-handed pitchers. Can you guess how many switch-hitters in MLB history have done both of those things, along with accumulating 50-plus walks, in a single season?
Not many. Ramirez just doubled the membership in that particular club.
When you can get compared to Mickey Mantle‘s on-field accomplishments, you’re on the right track. And who knows what levels he can actually reach by September — Cleveland still has 66 games left to play.
Similar to his teammate, Francisco Lindor, it was hard to envision a way for Ramirez to get demonstratively better following a career year. He’s managed to dwarf last year’s performance in a little over half a season.
Here’s a quick look at how his OPS, homers, RBI, stolen bases, walk rate (BB%), strikeout rate (K%), wRC+, and fWAR all compare to what he accomplished in 2017.
This guy is pretty dang good.
The rise in stolen bases is obvious (he’s about to surpass his career high of 22, set in 2016), but his rise in base-running efficiency is worth pointing out. After posting an 8.6 BsR in 2016, that number dropped all the way down to 0.0 last season. At the moment, it’s all the way up at 6.9 (nice).
It’s not hard to see why his power is on the rise, either. That’s what happens with a 44.6% fly-ball rate and 41.0% hard-hit rate, both of which are on track to be new personal bests. Ramirez’s 33.6% ground-ball rate is also set to be a career-best mark. If he can sustain that, it’d be the fourth consecutive season he’s seen the number improve.
And when you’re hitting more fly balls than ever, it’s helpful to make the most of those opportunities. The Indians’ slugger currently owns a 217 wRC+, 37.6% pull rate, and 43.3% hard-hit rate on fly balls, all of which are better than they’ve ever been for this specific batted-ball event.
Mike Trout is getting a lot of attention for the kind of year he’s having, but it’s worth noting that Ramirez’s 6.7 fWAR leads baseball heading into Saturday’s games, while Trout and Mookie Betts are tied at second with 6.4.
These three have very clearly separated themselves from the rest of the pack with regard to the American League MVP conversation. However, it’s anyone’s guess as to who eventually takes home the hardware if they all continue dominating.
No matter what, Ramirez is doing everything possible to improve upon last year’s third-place finish.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.