Ram?rez continues to make noise in AL MVP race

12 minutes ago

SEATTLE — So much attention has fallen on Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge because of the ridiculously hot season he’s had in 2022 — and rightfully so. But because of that, what Jos? Ram?rez has been able to do for Cleveland has been largely overshadowed.

Ram?rez topped his career best in RBIs in a single season, knocking in two runs in the Guardians’ 4-3 victory over the Mariners on Saturday night at T-Mobile Park. The win not only kept Cleveland in first place with a three-game lead after the Twins had a walk-off victory earlier in the night, but it also reminded everyone just how stellar a year Ram?rez continues to have.

“That’s why the day they signed him, everybody was so happy,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “Because he is reliable and he’s what you’re looking for in your best player. He checks all the boxes.”

Just how many boxes does he check? We can hit on a few.

As we already discussed, Ram?rez set a career high with 106 RBIs and there’s still over five weeks remaining in the regular season. He trails just Judge (109) on the RBI leaderboard across the Majors after notching 43 RBIs in his last 43 games.

What Ram?rez is doing hasn’t been seen in nearly two decades in Cleveland. The last player to have at least 106 RBIs in a team’s first 125 games of a season was Travis Hafner in 2006. And if it wasn’t evident enough just how critical Ram?rez is to this lineup, the team’s record of 39-15 when he plates at least one run versus its 28-43 record when he fails to record at least one RBI speaks for itself.

Extra-base hits

With his home run in the fourth inning and his American League-leading 38th double in the eighth, Ram?rez logged his 16th game with multiple extra-base hits. That’s two more than any other hitter in the Majors this season (Judge and Austin Riley each have 14). He’s not the first to do this in 125 games for Cleveland, but he certainly joins some elite company.

In franchise history, there have been seven other instances of hitters having at least 16 games with multiple extra-base hits. Albert Belle did it three times (19 in 1995, 17 in ’94 and 17 in ’96) and Earl Averill (17 in ’34), Manny Ram?rez (16 in ’98), Lou Boudreau (16 in ’40) and Hal Trosky (16 in ’36) each did it once. Now, Ram?rez’s 16 in 2022 will be added to that list.

He also made history on Saturday night by recording his 504th career extra-base hit. That moves him into sole possession of seventh place in club history, passing former teammate Carlos Santana’s 503 extra-base hits.

Contact

Clearly, he’s been able to knock in runs and make his way around the bases this season, but let’s not forget the fact that Ram?rez is one of the most patient hitters in the game. It’s an approach that’s become common throughout the Guardians’ lineup, but having their star player lead by example certainly hasn’t hurt. Through 125 games, Ram?rez has just four more strikeouts than he has walks (54 vs. 50) and ranks in the 99th percentile in strikeout percentage and 97th percentile in whiff percentage, according to Statcast.

Clutch

Ram?rez’s clutch factor may be the most important box to check for this Guardians team. The roster is young and inexperienced. It’s found a way to thrive despite those factors. However, it needs to have a leader, and whether it’s been intentional or not, Ram?rez has been that guy.

Entering Saturday’s matchup against Seattle, Ram?rez owned a .378 average with a 1.224 OPS, three homers and 24 RBIs when there are two outs and runners in scoring position. He’s found himself trying to help teach his younger teammates as much as he can to help them thrive on the big stage. And as long as he can continue to put together a season worthy of drawing AL MVP votes, despite what Judge has been able to do in New York, the Guardians can continue to make a push for the postseason.

“I’ve said it a million times. He’s the clutchest player, he’s got that gene,” Guardians starter Zach Plesac said. “He seems to be up in all the big moments and he comes through. That’s why he’s up there for MVP. It’s an honor to be able to play with him. He’s a beast. Keep killing it, Josey.”