Jose Ramirez was a star for the Cleveland Indians in 2016 and will need to have similar production in 2017 for the team to return to the postseason.
While the Cleveland Indians went out and acquired a big name in Edwin Encarnacion, it will be up to the team’s returning core to be great once again in 2017 if the team is going to compete for another World Series title. And Jose Ramirez may be the most important piece.
Ramirez was a name Indians fans were aware of before 2016. He was on the big league roster for parts of the prior three seasons, but he was never a featured player. That all changed last season when he played so well he put Juan Uribe out of a job.
Ramirez finished the regular season with a .312 batting average, which was best on the team. His 46 doubles proved his power at the plate, while his 22 stolen bases showed he was an asset in so many different facets of the game.
But stats aside, Ramirez was also a clear emotional leader for the team last season. His confident attitude showed on the field, especially when he ran with no regard for his helmet, which often fell off to give fans a glimpse of his unique hairdo.
It is hard to project how he will do in his second full season based on last season being the only time he has appeared in over 97 games, but he showed enough to warrant high expectations.
Opening the 2017 season as the everyday third baseman should only help his already great confidence, as there is no stress about trying to find a spot in the lineup. He also had a full year to see a lot of the pitching across the league, including in the postseason, with his .310 World Series batting average showing just how capable he is against any foe.
Part of why Ramirez may have struggled before 2016 was the fact he entered last season as a 23-year-old. His earlier days with the Indians should be viewed as nothing more than practice for what came in 2016, and what will come in the future.
So while some players become one-hit wonders, Ramirez displayed enough natural ability last season to prove that he is a rising star. Francisco Lindor gets much of the national spotlight because of how highly rated he was as a prospect, but Ramirez is arguably just as good if not better than the young shortstop, which is a debate for another time.
Regardless, Ramirez is once again going to be a focal point on offense, and an asset on defense. Anything less than his 2016 numbers would come as a major surprise.