Jose Ramirez: hit machine becoming Jose Ramirez: walk machine

The All-Star taking next step in rapid development

Alex Hooper
June 23, 2018 - 4:45 pm
Jun 17, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11) falls to the ground after striking out in the seventh inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field.

© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Jose Ramirez loves to swing the bat, this much is known. One of the best hitters in the game, the infielder has professed his love for the art he is now becoming known for.

Like any good hitter looking to transition to being a great hitter, Ramirez is learning perhaps the hardest part: not swinging.

The switch-hitting All-Star walked four times in the Indians’ 10-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night, his first career four-walk game. One of the free passes was intentional, Ramirez’s sixth of the season, pushing him into a tie for seventh in baseball.

The walks that were not intentional showed that even when teams have not completely given up on pitching to Ramirez, they have begun to refuse pitch to him.

While the trends may have headed that way during his ascent to the top of the WAR leaderboards in the past three years, the 25-year-old has not let his walk rates increase alongside his lack of pitches.

Until now.

Ramirez currently boasts a career-high 15% walk rate, nearly double his 2016 rate of 8.1%. His batting average currently sits below .300 for the first time since he struggled mightily in 2015, but his on-base percentage has never been higher in a full season at .398 entering play on Saturday.

As expected, the trends that normally come with a hitter’s rise in success and the walks that accompany said success, are there. Ramirez is seeing fewer fastballs (50.8%) than he ever has in his career, as well as more curveballs (14%) and sliders (15.6%).

No matter the pitch, Ramirez is seeing fewer good ones, boasting a career-low 41.1% of pitches in the strike zone, and 52.3% first pitch strikes. Again, that is to be expected when entering the pantheon of current players, but Ramirez has made it happen by swinging at a career-low 23.3% of balls out of the zone, and just 40% of pitches in general.

Ramirez’s walk rate in June alone is 21.7% and 19.4% over the past calendar month. In that time, the MVP candidate has a 1.040 OPS and a 172 wRC+.