Our look at the Top 25 Cleveland Indians in 2016 has reached Jose Ramirez, one of the most exciting young players in all of baseball.
Although he comes in at No. 4 on our list, Jose Ramirez easily had one of the most surprising seasons of anyone on the Cleveland Indians in 2016.
The young Ramirez entered the season as a utility player, only to finish it as the permanent third baseman and as the most reliable piece in an already strong lineup.
After batting .219 in 97 games in 2015, Ramirez led the team with a .312 batting average in 2016, appearing in a career-high 152 games. His 62 strikeouts were also the lowest among qualified Indians hitters, while his .363 on-base percentage was second behind Carlos Santana.
The focus heading into the season was on Francisco Lindor, but Ramirez quickly shared the spotlight once he made it clear he was not content with just being a utility player. The 24-year-old, who started the season at 23, outplayed Juan Uribe early on in the season, making it only a matter of time before the veteran was removed from his starting spot at third base.
And while the season may seem to have come out of nowhere after his past play in Cleveland, the experience he got from 2013-2015 undoubtedly helped him reach such a high level of success in 2016. Fans may have been frustrated with his play before 2016, but he was so young the games he played should have been considered practice for when he was finally ready to be a full-time player.
While Lindor received much of the national attention, Ramirez should also be considered a rising star in Cleveland. His season did not appear to be a fluke, as it is clear he has tremendous discipline at the plate, with the consistency of playing every day allowing him to properly adjust to MLB pitching. Entering the 2017 as a starter should only help his confidence at the plate and in the field.
Ramirez could likely even be considered the team MVP, depending on one’s view of a pitcher being considered the MVP, which puts Corey Kluber or Andrew Miller as favorites. Either way, he was one of the most important pieces of a team that made it within one win of a championship, and for that he earns a high spot on this list.