As Major League Baseball is set to celebrate its young superstars around the league: Ronald Acuna Jr., Shane McClanahan, Juan Soto and Corbin Carroll are just four of over 20 stars going to the All-Star Game age 26-or-younger. As the storyline revolves around the younger talent in the league, certain narratives of veterans that fill the remaining roster spots are left untold, unread, and underappreciated.

    While the All-Star Game prompts promotion of MLB’s rising prodigies, it also serves as a benchmark to continue measuring established greatness. This notion has gone to the wayside just a bit during MLB’s explosion of young talent, and barring any late additions, there are only ten players heading to Seattle for at least the fifth time in their Major League tenure.

    One of the players heading to the All-Star Game in Seattle is Freddie Freeman, who went five times with the Atlanta Braves and is set to go for his second time in as many years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. But another heading to Seattle is Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez, who let Freeman know just what he thought of Freddie’s game the last time the two played in the same game.

    Freddie is one of the best hitters of this generation. Recently surpassing the 2,000 hit milestone, Freeman boasts a lifetime .299/.386/.510 slash, 52.2 WAR and over 300 homeruns in a career that’s seen the first baseman win three silver sluggers, an MVP and be the main producer in a World Series lineup. Freeman is an established elite player, considered in the mainstream to be one of the absolute best of this generation. Yet, while players the caliber of Freeman are frequently placed in the conversation of the generation’s finest, Ramirez is not. Perhaps, Ramirez had a point?

    While Ramirez seems dead serious in the video, there’s a fine line to decipher between confidence and arrogance and it’s a line that Ramirez has always seemed to ride fairly well. Ramirez has confidence in spades, for good reason, even. Ramirez is the host of arguably the most complete offensive profile in baseball on a year-over-year basis. Since 2017, the following is a list of players to have given their club at least a .900 OPS, 150 homeruns, 400 walks, 350 XBH, 500 RBI and 100 stolen bases*:

    Jose Ramirez, Guardians: .900 OPS, 187 homeruns, 422 walks, 456 XBH, 599 RBI, 141 SB.
    End of list.
    *All statistics heading into morning of July 7th.

    It isn’t necessarily just that Jose Ramirez is an extra-base hit machine and a savvy baserunner, but how he consistently puts up those numbers. Ramirez was never a top prospect and doesn’t exactly have one aspect of his game that is head-and-shoulders above everything else. But he does everything well and starts with his excellent hand-eye coordination. Ramirez’s bat-to-ball skills are unrivaled in the game today. Despite averaging 36 homeruns over a 162-stretch from 2018 to 2022, Ramirez averaged only 73 strikeouts for every 162 games over the same time period, with 66 walks. While his walk totals have gone down over the years, a lot of it has to do with him being less selective at the plate. Yet, the lack of strikeouts over any long-term period of time in a strikeout heavy game allows for a high on-base clip thanks in large part to hitting the ball hard with a majority of the contact he makes.

    In 2023, Ramirez ranks in the 76th percentile of max exit velocity and 93rd percentile in whiff percentage. The lack of swing and miss in his game is complimented by hitting the ball hard, eliciting an expected batting average in the 92nd percentile. A lot of Ramirez’s hits look as though it’s pure luck, but he gets a numerous amount of hits that way on a regular basis, and a lot of it is due to approach. Ramirez has the ability to put the bat on anything and do it to all fields. Being a switch-hitter with easy power on both sides makes it hard to matchup, but even more difficult to shift because he hits a line drive or fly ball over 30% of the time, but also a groundball on 25% of occasion.

    Seen above is Ramirez’s 2023 spray chart, per Baseball Savant. Ramirez spreads his base hits everywhere on the diamond, making it almost impossible to not only shift, but pitch to. You aren’t going to get a swing and a miss, but no matter where you pitch him, he has power wherever he drives the ball. That’s a perfect hitter to have in your three-hole for the All-Star Game.

    The peripherals suggest that it’s not luck. In fact, Ramirez’s batting average on balls in play in 2023 is only seven points lower than his batting average. Furthermore, Ramirez’s expected batting average of .290 is almost identical to his current batting average of .289. The discrepancy between batting average and batting average on balls in play is in the idea that the batting average on balls in play doesn’t calculate strikeouts or homeruns, which batting average obviously does. A low-K percentage and a high homerun rate will create such a statistical anomaly. Though, at 30, Ramirez’s numbers are in-line with his career statistics and peripherals are less likely to be an indicator after 11 seasons.

    It’s not just his bat-to-ball skills, but what Ramirez does after the ball leaves the bat. According to his Baseball Reference advanced stat sheet, Ramirez is taking an extra-base on his hits at a remarkable 47%, on approximately half of his base hits, and that’s down from his career average. While Ramirez isn’t the fastest, there’s fewer baserunners that read a defense and take advantage of it better than Ramirez. But it isn’t just taking the extra base on balls in play, his 80% clip on stolen base attempts is seven percent higher than league average over the course of his MLB career.

    The most recent stolen base attempt from Ramirez resulted in a straight steal of home in extra innings off of Royals’ (now Rangers’) Aroldis Chapman. This video provides everything that Ramirez is on the basepaths. He’s risky, but he knows what risks to take. The slide around Salvador Perez while somehow staying in the baseline is what makes the steal impressive, but it’s the swagger and confidence in his ability. Ramirez, with clay all over his uniform, immediately gets up to strut off the field while telling skipper Terry Francona to challenge the call. It was overturned relatively quickly, as it was clear that Ramirez beat the play. Not only is the play-hard and efficient style perfect for any ballclub, but when conflated with his kind of personality, it’s a fun brand of the game to watch.

    His offensive profile is still somehow understated, as Ramirez has more walks than strikeouts as we inch closer toward the All-Star Game break. Yet, this wouldn’t be the first time he finished with more walks than K’s in a season, seeing that Ramirez drew 26 more walks than strikeouts in 2018.

    As good of an offensive performer as Ramirez is, his defense has gone to another level in 2023. Ramirez is in the top 97 percentile of Outs Above Average, where he’s tied for fourth among third baseman in 2023 with Manny Machado and sixteenth overall in baseball. He’s much better to his right than left, which isn’t unusual for a third baseman. Ramirez is a vacuum and anything that isn’t down the foul line usually finds Ramirez’s glove, no matter how he’s playing the ball. Ramirez is well-above average playing in, with a knack for being able to both charge the ball and run back on a ball if the shift is too-far in or not in enough. His arm isn’t as strong as some of the league’s premiere third basemen, but his range and quickness to the ball makes up for it.

    Ramirez has finished in the top five of American League MVP voting on four times, with a fifth time in the top six. He’s now a five-time All-Star, three times of which he was voted in by other players. Ramirez is clearly respected among people within the game, yet the media coverage is still nonexistent for him.

    Perhaps, that’s because he plays in Cleveland, a city that Ramirez has grown to adore. Ahead of the 2022 season, Ramirez inked a five-year extension pact worth $124M, on top of the two years that were remaining on his previous deal. This looks to keep Ramirez in Cleveland through at least his age-35 season for a commitment around $25 per year. While that’s certainly good money, it’s hard to believe that Ramirez wouldn’t get at least $30M a year over seven-to-eight years on the current market, effectively taking a deal below-market value to stay with a club that isn’t known for their spending. Loyalty goes a long way in the game and Ramirez will continue to be the leader of a young Cleveland ballclub.

    Francona is happy with the choice of talent to keep on a team that’s known for moving most of their superstars. “We know whenever he’s playing, he always gives that energy and we always have a chance to compete and win games when he’s playing with us,” said Francona last week. “I don’t second guess Hosey ever. I mean, he’s human, but I don’t ever second guess him because he plays so hard, so smart, every night. He gets beat up because, unlike most of the top-tier guys in the league, he’s down and dirty and diving and he beats himself up pretty good.”

    But that provides another interesting talking point. For a player who throws as much caution to the wind with his hard-nose style of play, most guys who do aren’t durable. The best ability, as the old adage goes, is availability. However, Ramirez does. In five of the last six non-shortened seasons, Ramirez played in at least 150 games. In the sixty game COVID sprint, Ramirez appeared in 58 of the 60 possible games. He is on the field every day at Progressive Park and takes a total of zero plays off. That’s a huge reason that Ramirez is so beloved in the clubhouse.

    In prepartion for the All-Star Game – Zack Meisel of the Athletic did an excellent piece on clubhouse stories of Ramirez that allows his personality to shine through, but in it is a story of a player in Spring Training who asked for Ramirez’s autograph. Ramirez was frank with him: don’t ask for an autograph, play for my job. Ramirez has an expectation that everybody does their best and gives it their all, and he leads by example. His mentality takes over the team, and maybe that’s a big reason why Cleveland always overperforms expectations every season.

    Regardless, Ramirez provides everything a team wants in their superstar at the highest of levels: loyalty, leadership, power, contact, baserunning, defense. Every aspect of the game with no time off. Jose Ramirez is one of the game’s most elite players and will one day wear the Cleveland C when he takes his place into Cooperstown. For now, he’ll settle for once against representing the C in an MLB All-Star Game.

    Be sure to watch Ramirez and all of the Major League All-Star Game when the game emanates from T-Mobile Park in Seattle on Tuesday at 8 P.M. EST. Coverage of the game is on FOX.

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