Making the Grade: Ranking Shortstops in the AL Central

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No. 5: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

While Jose Ramirez has the potential to be an incredible difference-maker for the Tribe this season, his 84 career games in the big leagues make it difficult to anoint him as anything but the last-ranked shortstop in the division. 

Known more for his glove than his bat, Ramirez was a significant piece in Cleveland’s late-season surge in 2014. He brought stability to the middle of a defense that was plagued by mistakes. Ramirez committed just four errors in what was his first extended big league opportunity last year, splitting time between second base and shortstop. His .983 fielding percentage and 4.13 range factor was a enormous improvement upon anything Cleveland has seen since Omar Vizquel.

Offensively, Ramirez was better-than-advertised for the Tribe. Despite hitting better than .300 in four of five seasons in the minors, the 22-year-old shortstop has always projected as an average – at best – hitter. But he hit .262/.300/.346 from the dish, giving manager Terry Francona a switch-hitting speedster he could plug in at the top or bottom of the order. With questions surrounding the health of Jason Kipnis and Michael Bourn, Ramirez might also be the Indians’ only real base-stealing threat in the lineup.

Fortunately for Ramirez, he has shown an ability to play second, third or shortstop early in his career. Despite his youth, Ramirez is really a temporary piece at shortstop, as he will soon give way to the inevitable call-up of prized prospect Francisco Lindor.

Though the Tribe has still given no indication of a timetable for Lindor’s debut, Ramirez is auditioning for another job – whether that is with the Indians or another team is yet to be determined.

Next: No. 4

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