Ramirez, Lindor, and the best Indians seasons ever

Dynamic young duo en route to two of best seasons in club history

Alex Hooper
July 11, 2018 - 11:37 pm
Jul 11, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11) celebrates with shortstop Francisco Lindor (right) after hitting a three-run home run against the Cincinnati Reds in the third inning at Progressive Field.

© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Pace is an interesting concept in regard to baseball, the game that is revered for having a pace of its own, yet has a pace of play “problem.”

You often see notes early in a baseball season regarding a player being ‘on pace’ for ridiculous numbers. Those pace numbers are less ridiculous after 91 games, 56.2% of the season, but still not always indicative of the pitfalls of a 162-game season.

These things considered, Indians All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez is on pace for a top-3 season in the club’s history. Shortstop Francisco Lindor is barreling towards a top-10 campaign.

“I know they care about each other, but it’s a pretty good tandem right there,” Manager Terry Francona said after Wednesday’s 19-4 blowout of the Cincinnati Reds. “They do it in a little different ways, but they’re switch-hitters, they’re both on that side of the infield, but they’re young and they are really good.”

The 25-year-old Ramirez is unlikely to catch Lou Boudreau’s MVP campaign in 1948, in which he racked up a 10.9 fWAR by slashing .355/.453/.534 and adding 29.4 fielding and positional adjustment runs above average.

Every other position player season is in jeopardy.

Ramirez entered Wednesday with a 5.7 WAR, already tied with Elmer Flick in 1905 for the 70th-best season by fWAR in team history. The switch-hitter could have presumably caught Boudreau by the end of the night with how the game was going. Everybody had to settle with a 2-for-4 night with two home runs and five RBI.

Assuming he hit the 6.0 fWAR mark on the night, that would place Ramirez into a tie with Travis Hafner (2006), Omar Vizquel (1999), Nap Lajoie (1909), Shin-Soo Choo (2010) and Jim Thome (1995) for 59th. It would also put Ramirez on pace for 9.37 fWAR, a number that would tie him with Lajoie for 2nd in club history.

(Lajoie’s 1906 campaign produced 9.4 fWAR, while his 1910 season produced 9.3, tied with Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1911.)

Ramirez is also on pace for 42 home runs, T-10th in Indians history, and would be the 25th player to record a 1.000+ OPS (1.001).

“He’s a monster,” Francona added. “He’s getting better. Now that it’s getting hot and the ball is starting to carry and your body feels good, it’s not cold, he’s just ... I mean it’s fun to watch. He’s actually getting better.”

Lindor, meanwhile, entered play Wednesday with a 5.2 fWAR, tied with Albert Belle in 1996 and Coco Crisp in 2005. At his current pace, the 24-year-old would land somewhere between 8.4 and 8.6 fWAR, the low end of that scale coming in ahead of Boudreau’s 8.3 fWAR 1944 season, and the high end tying him with Terry Turner in 1906 for 10th.

Should both hit their high-end fWAR totals, a combined 18 fWAR rounding up, they would not challenge Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig’s 1927 campaign of 25.5 fWAR, they would be just the 15th pair of teammates since 1901 to post seasons of 8.0+ WAR.

The pair became the first pair of teammates in MLB history aged 25-or-younger to hit 25 home runs before the All-Star break, per STATS LLC.