Despite his All-Star appearance, Jose Ramirez is an unappreciated fantasy superstar and deserves consideration as a second round pick in 2018.
The statistics don’t lie. Jose Ramirez is one of the best five-category players in the game, and despite the hype he will get from this site, the 24-year-old will likely slip down in next season’s draft to be available for a value. But there is a strong argument that he should be taken as high as the second round.
The number of home runs that are now being hit has distorted our view of what to expect from the top fantasy players.
Back in 2015, 41 players had reached 20 home runs by the end of August. With his sixth-inning homer off Yankees Luis Severino on August 28, Jose Ramirez became the 80th player to hit reach the milestone of 20 home runs this season.
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With power in more plentiful supply, contributions in the other categories become even more valuable. Next season, perhaps more than ever, five-category studs will be highly prized.
But what makes a five-category stud?
There are 32 players who, up to this point in the season, have 20 home runs, 60 runs, 60 RBI, 10 stolen bases and a .300 batting average.
They are Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, Paul Goldschmidt, Charlie Blackmon, Jose Ramirez and ….. oh wait, when I said 32 players, I meant five.
Just five players have reached these fairly modest thresholds in all five standard categories. Three of these players should be the first three picks next season, and Charlie Blackmon is a first-round roto stud.
Which brings us to Ramirez.
The Indians’ third baseman, who will also be second base eligible next year, has 20 home runs with 62 RBI, 84 runs, 14 stolen bases and a .300/.355/.527 slash line this season.
He is a switch-hitter with no discernible weakness from either side, hitting .301 vs. right-handers and .298 vs. lefties.
After his breakout in 2016, with 41 doubles, 14 home runs and 22 stolen bases, there was the suspicion that Ramirez would not sustain this production, but that was to disregard the skill set that helped the 24-year-old finish as a top-40 hitter, nestled between Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun. And that was despite not having a position in the Indians’ Opening Day lineup.
Last season, Ramirez had one of the highest contact rates in the game, coupled with a swinging-strike rate below 5%. This season, although he has become a more powerful hitter, his plate discipline skills rival the best, and he continues to post an impressive walk to strikeout ratio.
You won’t take him at the end of the second round, you’ll play it safe with the Dodgers’ shortstop Corey Seager, or the Astros’ George Springer, or maybe even 30-somethings Daniel Murphy or Josh Donaldson. All four are exceptional players but together they have combined for 11 stolen bases this season. I guess it depends upon the value you attach to contributions at all five categories in the early part of the draft.
With a BABIP lower than last season and a league-leading 41 doubles this year, Ramirez is showing the attributes to not only continue this level of production next year but to exceed it.
RBI is one of the most frustrating stats to accumulate. Last season, Ramirez hit .355 with runners in scoring position. This season, the Indians have failed to capitalize on his contact skills by presenting Ramirez with fewer RBI opportunities, and when he has been at the plate with runners in scoring position, Ramirez is hitting just .270. Expect regression back to the norm for the rest of the season and into next year, so he should make even more contributions in the RBI category.
This season, the league adjusted to Ramirez and he has just kept hitting. Over the last two seasons, he has 31 home runs with 36 stolen bases and a batting average of .306. And he is still only 24-years-old.