Ramírez goes from reckless to unrivaled on basepaths

MVP candidate currently league's best runner

Alex Hooper
August 31, 2018 - 6:00 pm
Aug 21, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11) steals second base safely as the throw goes into center field during the seventh inning at Fenway Park.

© Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) - José Ramírez has put himself squarely in the race for American League Most Valuable Player, by being in the top three in the AL in just about every positive category.

There is one measure in which Ramírez has the entire competition beat.

Entering play on Friday, the 25-year-old currently boasts 9.2 base-running runs above average (BsR), almost an entire win above replacement tacked on to his current second-place mark of 8.1.

By Baseball Prospectus’ BRR (base running runs) measure, Ramírez is 4.5 runs above average (6th), making the most impact on ground advancement (2.40 GAR, 10th) and stolen bases (0.96 SBR, 14th).

It is a return to what seems the norm for one of the game’s most versatile players, after posting a 0.0 BsR in 2017, largely from being overaggressive and running into outs. Ramírez’s BsR was an 8.6 in 2016 during his first full season as a starter.

None of those samples are outliers. The infielder has always been an aggressive runner. That just happened to go unchecked for a large portion of a season, and has since been both harnessed and improved upon.

“I mean, when he first came up he was a very daring baserunner, which we loved,” Manager Terry Francona said Friday. “Now, he’s turned into probably one of the better baserunners in the league.”

His base running stats will likely only improve as the season goes on. In a world where the stolen base has become a lost art, Ramírez is currently tied for the AL lead with Seattle Mariners 2B/CF Dee Gordon with 29 thefts.

With 28 straight steals of second base, the infielder’s 33 doubles on the season have essentially become 61. Paired with his 37 home runs, Ramírez gives even more meaning to Francona’s comment that ‘Josey will wind up on second one way or another.’