Cleveland Indians: Who Should Hit Behind Edwin Encarnacion?

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Oct 14, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (10) hits a single against the Cleveland Indians in the third inning in game one of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 14, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (10) hits a single against the Cleveland Indians in the third inning in game one of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez hits an infield single against the Chicago Cubs in the second inning in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez hits an infield single against the Chicago Cubs in the second inning in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Jose Ramirez

Nobody saw Jose Ramirez emerging into the star that he was in 2016. The question now becomes, will Ramirez’s success carry over to 2017?

If it does, he will find himself back in the middle of the Indians lineup. His bat likely translates better as a six-spot hitter due to his lack of power, but his uncanny ability to come up with clutch hits in high-leverage situations is oftentimes unbelievable and is reason enough to bat him behind Encarnacion.

If the Indians see Santana as a full-time leadoff hitter and Brantley does not come back as strong as we all hope or hits third, Ramirez could find himself batting fifth.

Ramirez’s 4.8 WAR tied for second on the Indians with Jason Kipnis. The two only trailed Francisco Lindor, who had a 6.3 WAR. Also notable is Ramirez’s strikeout rate, which came in at just 10 percent. If the Indians are looking for somebody that is more likely to put the ball in play, Ramirez could be their guy.

Ramirez hit more in the five-spot than anywhere else in the lineup last season. In 79 games, Ramirez hit .323 and collected 42 RBI. Of course, with the Encarnacion signing, Ramirez could be the odd man out in the middle of the lineup.

Next: What Do You Want to See in 2017?

While it would not be surprising to see Ramirez regress a little from his 2016 numbers, it also would not be surprising to see him be as reliable as he was in 2016.

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