Cleveland Guardians news: predicts José Ramírez will win 2023 AL MVP

Division Series - New York Yankees v Cleveland Guardians - Game Three
Division Series - New York Yankees v Cleveland Guardians - Game Three / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Could 2023 finally be the year José Ramírez wins the American League MVP award?

The Cleveland Guardians star third baseman has now finished in the top five of MVP voting four times in his career, as he just finished fourth in the voting in 2022. Not to mention Ramírez also finished sixth in the AL MVP voting in 2021.

The four-time All-Star has been hovering near the MVP award for a while now, and's Anthony Castrovince thinks 2023 could finally be the year Ramírez gets over the hump.

Here is what Castrovince had to say in his recent piece:

"Judge, Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout ... these are the safer selections in the AL. Or maybe Julio Rodríguez surges even more as a sophomore. But I have an affinity for little guys who do big things, and that’s Ramírez. He has finished in the top six of the AL MVP voting in five of the past six years. It’s just a matter of having that one truly transcendent season in which his case becomes obvious. No one was going to take down Judge in 2022. But early in the year, Ramírez was on track to try, with 28 extra-base hits and 51 RBIs against only 15 strikeouts (please read that again ... it’s impressive) in April and May. Then, in June, he suffered a right thumb injury that required offseason surgery, which only makes his final .280/.355/.514 slash amid playing through pain all the more impressive. On track to be fully recovered in time for Opening Day and with better lineup protection after the Josh Bell acquisition, there’s no reason not to think Ramírez won’t be at an MVP-caliber level again in his age-30 season and on a Guardians team with the talent to stay atop the AL Central."

The added lineup protection of new free-agent signing Josh Bell certainly helps, but the real key could be the new shift rules set to take place next season. In 2022, Ramírez was shifted against 94% of the time, the fifth-highest percentage in all of baseball. That number was even higher (96.3%) for the pull-happy Ramírez in 2021, so it'll be very interesting to see his production moving forward without having to contend with three infielders on the right side.

By default, one could expect Ramírez to get at least a few more hits a week given the new shift restrictions, assuming he just maintains the same approach he's always had. That could make the difference between hitting .280 and over .300 over the course of the season. And with that added protection behind him, Ramírez might just start getting a few more decent pitches to hit too.

It's something the Guardians have no doubt considered. And it makes for a compelling case to bet on Ramírez to finally get that elusive MVP award in 2023.