Ramirez went unsigned at 16, when the bulk of the international talent is scooped up.
In November 2009, he was invited to a three-game showcase, along with some other unsigned players, at the Indians' facility in Boca Chica. Ramon Pena, who used to head the Indians' Latin American operations, got a look at Ramirez, negotiated with his trainer, and completed a handshake deal to sign the scrawny infielder for $50,000. That deal was fine by Ramirez. Surprising people was his specialty.
In 2013, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Jose as the 23rd-best prospect in the Indians organization.
Managers love Ramirez because he plays so hard.
Jose is pretty fearless too. "Since he’s been with the Major League club (as part of the Tribe’s wave of September 2013 callups), he’s done nothing to indicate that any of this is too big for him,” Indians vice president of player development Ross Atkins said.
"There's a lot of variables at play there, a lot of things to factor in,” Atkins said. “There’s alternatives and how the Major League team is currently made up. But if you just isolate him and what has separated him from others has been the fact that he gives you a lot of confidence. He is going to face a challenge head on and not be distracted by the environment, expectations, or the setting.”
April 28, 2017: "Jose is generating more power, but it's not just because of his strength," Indians' manager Terry Francona said. "He can pretty much do everything you want from a player and he can do a lot of damage at the plate. He can bunt, hit and run, hit in play, and hit the ball out of the ballpark. And he's still getting better."
The skipper added that many baseball experts pegged Ramirez as a utility player after he failed to permanently stick with the Indians in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Their assessments changed when he filled in for an injured Michael Brantley in 2016 and hit .312 with 11 homers and 76 RBIs.
"If Brantley doesn't get hurt, who knows what happens with him?" Francona admitted. "Jose took that opportunity to play the outfield and ran with it. Now, it's going to be fun to watch him continue to grow." (Dulik - mlb.com)
Jose Ramirez on himself: "My name is Jose Ramirez, and I love baseball. I mean, I really love it."
Growing up, in Bani, a beautiful city in the Dominican Republic, the number one thing on my mind was baseball. We were always playing "Vitilla" and another game called "La Plaquita" with the kids from my neighborhood all day long. We used water jug caps as baseballs and sticks for bats in Vitilla. La Plaquita is another baseball-type game we played in the streets.
I was always one of the shortest and skinniest kids in every game I played. I was always one of the youngest, too. I remember playing in this league in my neighborhood with a bunch of older kids and how much pressure that put on me, and how I was able to deal with it. I learned early not be intimidated by baseball, and that's helped me. I held my head high and I walked with pride even as a kid. Imagine seeing this short little kid strutting with confidence. That was me. That's still me.
I have always believed in myself. My parents believed in me first. My father had a motorcycle, and he would take me to the field every day. We would always work hard even though a lot of people didn't have faith in me because of my size. Believe me, someone's height in baseball is an obstacle in Latin American countries. That's not what scouts are looking for and everyone would always say that my height was an issue. I remember going to these baseball programs or tryouts and the first thing people would talk about was how small I was, and immediately write me off.
I can still hear my father saying, "You have to continue working hard and don't pay attention to those that say that you're short. You have to show that you can do it because you have the same heart as they all do. Never give up." I've always appreciated that advice, and it still drives me. My heart is the same size as everyone else's. My parents have been together for 32 years, and they have taught me a lot of lessons about life and baseball, but that's one of the biggest lessons.
Remember, I came up as a utility player and didn't have a set position. But I always had faith in myself, worked hard, and never gave up. I took advantage of the opportunity to win an everyday job. Now, here I am being mentioned with the best players in the American League.
I have to give credit to my baseball family, my coaches and my teammates. They have all been very supportive, and we have a good time. They have all these nicknames for me. Last year, it was George Jefferson because of the way I walked, and now it's Mini Me because they say I look just like a small Juan Uribe. Uribe is a great person. We spent a lot of time together when he was with our team last year, and he helped me out a lot at third base. I'm very grateful for his guidance. Everyone makes fun of me and say that he's my father. It's funny. I'm thankful for guys like Uribe and Jose Reyes, who remains an important part of my life.
On a personal level, it's really an honor to be considered an MVP candidate, but that's not the goal. We are here to win games and a World Series. That's what is most important. It was a wonderful experience participating in the World Series last year. Being there gave me even more confidence, if you can believe that. I'm more relaxed now, and now we have a different goal and that's to win it all.
We want to win for Cleveland and the fans. Everyone remembers the good times, but the fans also supported me and us during the bad times. We have all persevered to get to this point and now we have another chance to bring a title home. That is what it is all about, what we've been working for our entire lives. We want to win. (Ramirez - mlb.com - 9/29/17)
In 2017, Ramirez finished third in the AL MVP voting, by the BBWAA. Jose Altuve was MVP with Aaron Judge as runner-up.
In 2018, he again finished third in in the AL MVP voting, this time behind Mookie Betts and Mike Trout.
- In 2020, Ramírez finished second in the AL MVP voting, behind the White Sox José Abreu. DJ LeMahieu placed third.
Jose was an unknown when he arrived at the Indians' academy in the Dominican Republic for a tryout in 2009. He was considered too small and too old by most evaluators, but Cleveland's scouts saw enough heart in the infielder to extend a modest offer.
The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Ramirez is now one of baseball's premier stars, playing a dynamic third base while slugging home runs at a rapid rate. He has developed into an All-Star and MVP contender. Naturally, the Indians did not want to pass on reeling in another Jose Ramirez.
On August 31, 2018, Cleveland signed shortstop prospect Jose Baez Ramirez, the younger brother of Jose. Standing at his locker inside the Indians' clubhouse prior to a game against the Rays, Ramirez praised the playing ability of his brother, who also hails from Bani, D.R.
"He's a good player," Ramirez said through team interpreter Will Clements. "He's a big kid, and he's going to be strong. He's got a ton of ability to be able to have success in this game. He'll get as far as his bat takes him."
Cleveland's new signee goes by Jose Baez and turned 16 years old on August 30. He is listed at 5-foot-9 and 146 pounds and switch-hits, like his older brother. One international evaluator described Baez as having good hands, a good approach at the plate and an athletic build, but noted that he needs to continue to build up his strength.
Ramirez is thrilled to know that his brother will be in the same organization. "I'm super happy that he signed here," Ramirez said. "I know that they're going to treat him really well. We're really like a family here, so I know they're going to treat him well. I'm really happy that he signed here." (Bastian - mlb.com - 8/31/18)
- July 2018: Jose was selected to play in the MLB All-Star game.
September 9, 2018: With Jose Ramirez's first-inning steal of second in a loss to the Blue Jays, he became the 39th player in MLB history to reach 30 stolen bases and 30 home runs in the same season, joining Grady Sizemore (2008) and Joe Carter (1987) as the only Indians players to reach the mark.
Stretched across Jose's right forearm is a tattoo with his mother's name, Xiomara.
Jose helps make for a winning Indians clubhouse. Ramirez makes for good comic fodder when he walks into the clubhouse with an ice cream cone, banters with his teammates in Spanish at warp speed and ambulates from place to place with a chest-puffing, arm-swinging gait that his teammates call the “George Jefferson swagger.” But he’s all business with a bat or a glove in his hand. And his synergy with teammate Francisco Lindor is like nothing baseball has seen in years—if ever.
Dec 14, 2018: There's no Hall of Fame specifically for the backyard structures built by professional athletes, but if one existed, Jose Ramirez would no doubt hold a spot in its hallowed halls with his infield-shaped pool located near a mini-infield he also has in the backyard. Ramirez proudly shared it all with the world.
Here's his social media post: "Just finished building an infield in my backyard #NoExcuses #NoDaysOff #StriveForGreatness." (A Garro - MLB.com - Dec 14, 2018)
Players with back-to-back seasons of 80+ extra-base hits and 15+ steals: Jeff Bagwell (1996-97), Ken Griffey Jr. (1997-98), Alfonso Soriano (2005-07), Franciso Lindor (2017-18), Jose Ramirez (2017-18).
Indians biggest trash talker: Indians center fielder Oscar Mercado was in the middle of explaining why he believes that Ramírez is the biggest trash talker in the clubhouse when his former teammate Andrew Velazquez walked over to his locker and asked what he was talking about. When Mercado replied he was talking about “the biggest trash talker on the team,” Velasquez simply shot back: “Oh, so Josey."
Whether it’s playing cards before the game or on the field, Ramírez is known to pick on every person in the room in Spanish, even if they don’t speak the language. (MLB.com - Apr. 29, 2020)
2020 Season: A fun game with José is to go to Baseball Reference’s game logs and just randomly select stretches of 10 games to just see how good he was this year. For example, from Sept. 13 to 23, he posted a .400/.455/.950 line. From Aug. 24 to Sept. 4, when he was in a bit of a lull, he still popped .250/.348/.500. Even just the first ten games of the year, he was incredible with a .333/.429/.556, and we should have known something was coming. Cleveland needed someone to do some heavy lifting on offense this year. It came as only a bit of a surprise that the smallest among them turned into a goliath on the field.
There are few things more amazing and fun to watch in all of baseball than Ramírez on a sustained hot streak. It’s mind-bending how good he can be when it all falls into place. Players get hot all the time, and good players beat up on bad pitching because it’s their job, but it’s a rare thing to see a player so completely and utterly dominate the opposition, no matter who they face. Like few others, at his best Ramírez has the ability to go nuclear and put a team on his back, dragging them kicking and screaming into wins. The Indians were dreadful offensively in 2020, ranking 27th in wRC+ and OPS. And with just 248 runs scored all year, they ranked behind cellar dwellers and rebuild projects like the Tigers, Royals, or Orioles. Ramírez would have stood out among his teammates if he were merely alright at the plate. Fortunately for Cleveland, he was so much more.
Ramírez had a disappointing, miserable 2019, simple as that. For half the season he seemed like a different person, posting a .652 OPS before the break. it took a Herculean effort in the final months eked that OPS over .800 and gave him at least a decent 105 wRC+ to go home with. That needed forgetting, and the way he just blitzed out of the gate was a wonderful mind wipe. It may have been just 60 games, but he took full advantage of it and made sure Cleveland had the opportunity to at least try for something in the postseason.
Thanks to wins above replacement, we have an idea of where Ramírez actually dragged this team. At 3.4 fWAR, he was a main reason they had home field advantage in the playoffs since they tied with the White Sox but had the tiebreaker. His hitting .324/.419/.595 against those same White Sox is a reason they won the tiebreaker.
It was an ebb and flow kind of a season for the third baseman. After that big burst to open the year, his OPS was a mere .700 in August. He was strong to open September, but barely even thought of as a fringe candidate. Something happened though, whether luck, something clicking, or him just deciding to become some sort of demigod, but in the middle of September, he erupted. Remember when we were all worried about Cleveland losing eight games in a row? It seemed impossible to come back from. They were still a playoff team, but basically on a technicality, and who knows how much further they could fall? Over that same stretch, Ramírez hit .348/.400/.652, which evidently wasn’t enough. “Enough”, evidently, is something more like .436/.522/1.103, which Ramírez hit from September 17 through the end of the season. That is a slugging percentage, not an OPS.
When a team has roughly five and a half decent major league hitters, when your second best hitter would barely crack the top seven in the lineup of your eventual Wild Card Series opponent, sometimes a player has to do the work of two men. It can’t go on forever, even Barry Bonds “only” slugged .863 at his very best, but for a few games or weeks, a good player can transcend. This is what Ramírez is capable of, more so than any Cleveland player I can rightly remember. For that stretch to end the year, like he has so many times before, Ramírez was impossible to get out. Superstars make themselves known. He was shouting from the mountaintops, and hopefully people noticed.
FanGraphs’ 60-game split tool they built for this puts this into great context. Ramirez posted a 163 wRC+ this year. He was worth 3.4 fWAR. Prorated to a whole season, that’s nearly a Mike Trout kind of run, something near-impossible for mere mortals. Ramírez is so electrifying when he clicks, this year ranks as his 110th best 60-game stretch. His very best? A block of games from mid-May to mid-July of 2018, when he posted a 193 wRC+, earned himself 4.6 fWAR, hit .320/.429/.680, and swiped 15 bases to boot.
Ramírez might not be the “face of baseball” type of player like Francisco Lindor. The camera isn’t naturally drawn to him. I just know that this year, when the team was struggling, he refused to accept it, grabbed them all by the collar, and dragged them to within spitting distance of a division crown. He drove in four runs in the postseason, going 3-for-7 with three doubles, and did all he could to help the team survive and advance. The results, the captivating nature of his entire game, he was everything for the Indians this year. Marvelous, otherworldly, transcendent, heroic, there’s a million words you could use to describe what Jose Ramirez is at his best, and in 2020, we have to use each and every one. (Merritt Rohlfing - Oct 19, 2020)
July 2021: Ramirez was chosen as a reserve third baseman for the All-Star Game.
2021 Season: Jose Ramirez is a 29-year-old third baseman that has put up impressive numbers over his career. His 2021 was no different as he slashed .266/.355/.893 and added 35 home runs. That’s obviously impressive, but factor in that he struck out only 13.7% of the time while walking 11.3% of the time and you start to see the kind of hitter Jose Ramirez is.
It doesn’t stop there though, as he also added 27 stolen bases in 31 attempts, a success rate of 87%. He has speed, he has power, his career average is .278 (.292 last season). (OCTOBER 12, 2021, 9:00 AM | BRENNAN DELANEY)
November 2009: The Indians signed Ramirez for $50,000, out of the D.R.
March 24, 2017: Jose reached an agreement with the Indians on a five-year, $26 million contract extension. It includes team options for 2022 and 2023. The deal has a maximum value of $50 million.
|DOB:||9/17/1992||Agent:||Rick Thurman - Beverly Hills Sprts Coun.|
|Birth City:||Bani, D.R.|
|Draft:||2009 - Indians - Free agent|
|2010||-||did not play|
Ramirez is only 5-feet-9, so he doesn't have much of a strike zone. But what he has he covers well. He is very hard to strike out. He is a switch-hitter with a smooth swing from both sides of the plate. And he does a great job hitting leadoff. He has a slashing stroke that produces line drives to all fields, and the double-plus speed to take plenty of extra bases.
Jose has great hand-eye coordination and savvy plate discipline along with plus-bat speed from both sides of the plate. He is a good hitter who gets on base and makes things happen.
"He puts good at-bats together and has tremendous bat-to-ball ability,” Akron hitting coach Jim Rickon said in 2013. “He’s a patient hitter. He waits for good pitches to hit, and when he gets them, he puts a good swing on them. He doesn’t try to do too much. He knows who he is as player and how he fits on the team and he helps you win with what he brings to the table.”
He hits line drives all over the yard. Ramirez doesn’t have much power in his bat, but managers and scouts like the way he makes consistent contact. He's willing to go with a pitch to get on base.
Jose does have a little pull-side power. He excels at working counts and rarely chases.
Jose set a club record of seven consecutive games with a double. The latest two-bagger, his first of three extra-base hits, started a four-run fourth inning for the Indians in a 12-0 victory over the Orioles.
Ramirez laced a double to right field off Orioles starter Dylan Bundy's 90.1-mph fastball, setting the franchise record. "I feel really good," Ramirez said through translator Anne Bolton. "I also feel really happy because we've had a tremendous series, and that we're winning." (Bell - mlb.com - 6/19/17)
Indians manager Terry Francona often compares Jose Ramirez to the Tigers' designated hitter, Victor Martinez. Age has caught up to aspects of Martinez's game, but in his prime he was one of the game's elite contact hitters, and an imposing switch-hitting bat with occasional power behind slugger Miguel Cabrera. That is where Francona sees similarities between Martinez and Ramirez, whom the manager likes to hit fifth behind Tribe slugger Edwin Encarnacion.
The comparison is almost expected at this point. When Francona is asked to explain why he likes to hit Ramirez in the fifth spot, the manager almost always brings up Martinez. The most recent occasion was after a win over the Rangers.
"I really like the idea of protecting Edwin with a switch-hitter," Francona said. "You go back and look when Miggy and Victor were really [at the top of their game], Victor was sitting behind him and it just made you think so many times."
Martinez added that it has been fun to watch Ramirez's evolution on the field.
"He's definitely become a great, great player. He's made a name for himself," Martinez said. "Everything he has done to this point has been great for the Indians' team. Defensively, offensively. He's a really tough guy to get out. It's like every time he steps to the plate, he's going to get a hit—a double, homer. The kid does it all, man. He plays hard. It's really fun to watch him."
That compliment meant a lot to Ramirez. "It's really good that he would make that comparison with me," Ramirez said. "He's a superstar." (Bastian - mlb.com - 6/30/17)
Jose introduced himself to the world in style. When the Indians' third baseman slid into second base in the third inning of the 2017 All-Star Game, his helmet shot away from his head, tumbling to the infield dirt and revealing his choppy blond locks.
That is an image that Tribe fans have grown accustomed to witnessing, and now the rest of baseball got to enjoy what Ramirez looks like with the spotlight on him. Jose collected a pair of hits and stole a base, flashing the aggressiveness that defines his play.
"It was awesome," Indians outfielder Michael Brantley said. "On the biggest stage, Jose's still doing what he's been doing for us day in and day out."
"I feel so happy," said Ramirez, who had his parents, brother and two close friends in attendance. "It was something that was really special and really beautiful for me. And I'm going to remember it forever." (Bastian - mlb.com - 7/12/17)
September 3, 2017: Ramirez became the 13th player ever to accrue five extra-base hits in one game and the first switch hitter to accomplish the feat.
In 2017, Ramirez won his first Silver Slugger Award.
August 14, 2018: Ramirez reached 35 homers on the season, setting a club mark for home runs in a single campaign by a switch-hitter. Carlos Santana held claim to that record for parts of only two seasons, having launched 34 during his 2016 tour with the Tribe.
In 2018, Ramirez won his second Silver Slugger Award.
Sept 2020: Ramírez was named the AL Player of the Month for September.
Ramírez led the Majors with a 1.294 OPS during the month, batting .366/.453/.841 with an American League-best 10 home runs as well as 24 RBIs. He led the way for the Cleveland offense as the Tribe clinched the No. 4 seed in the AL playoff bracket.
Ramírez finished the regular season with 17 home runs and 10 stolen bases, plus an AL-best 45 runs scored.
This is Ramírez's second career AL Player of the Month Award (also July 2018).
In 2020, Ramirez won his third career Silver Slugger Award. After earning back-to-back Silver Sluggers in 2017 and 2018, Ramírez had a disappointing 2019 campaign. He responded with an incredible bounce-back performance in 2020, posting a career-best .993 OPS while racking up 17 homers and 10 stolen bases—numbers that had him on pace for 45 home runs and 27 steals in a 162-game season.
April 7, 2021: Jose had his 17th multi-homer game. It surely won’t be his last.
The career leaders in multi-homer games are among the elite of elite hitters: Babe Ruth leads with 72, followed by Barry Bonds (71), Sammy Sosa (69), Mark McGwire (67), and Willie Mays (63) to round out the top five.
It’s fair to say that Ramírez isn’t going to reach that level, but his ability to carry Cleveland’s lineup on his back, especially in recent years, has been impressive. Since his debut in 2013, only a handful of players have more multi-home run games than Ramírez. It’s another Who’s Who of great sluggers: Edwin Encarnacion leads the way with 29, followed by Nelson Cruz (28), Giancarlo Stanton (26), Khris Davis (26), Manny Machado (25), Josh Donaldson (20), and Nolan Arenado (20).
Since 2017, when Ramírez really turned it on his power, only Manny Machado’s 18 multi-homer games tops Ramírez’s 17.
- August 2, 2021: Jose added another milestone to his résumé, becoming the fifth-youngest player in Indians history to reach 150 home runs at 28 years, 319 days old with a two-run blast in the 10th inning. He trails just Hal Trosky (25 years, 260 days), Manny Ramirez (26 years, 109 days), Jim Thome (27 years, 286 days) and Albert Belle (28 years, 279 days).
- September 29, 2021: For the second time in his career, José has joined the 100 RBI club thanks to a sacrifice fly against the Royals.
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Ramirez's career Major League stats were: .281 batting average, 127 home runs and 840 hits, with 437 RBI in 2,993 at-bats.
- Jose is solid defensively at second base. He makes the routine plays and has good range, body control and arm strength. He can also play shortstop and third base. He has both athleticism and versatility.
- Ramirez turns the double play well.
- Jose is a confident defender. The game never speeds up on Ramirez, and the Major League staff raved about his energy late in the 2013 season.
- Perceived as second baseman or future utility man, Ramirez was handed the keys to short for the rest of the 2014 season, and the youngster impressed in the field. With his solid defensive showing and offensive contributions, Jose gave the Tribe some things to think about over the winter.
"I don't think we were surprised," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Ramirez's play. "I just think that when people in our industry look at somebody and don't see maybe a big arm, they immediately go, 'Second base.' Well, his range is tremendous and he moves his feet really well and he's got a good clock.
"I guess what I'm saying is, he's done a heck of a job at short. We know he can play second. We've put him at third. But he's a pretty good shortstop. (Bastian - mlb.com - 8/27/14)
- In 2017 and 2018 for the Indians, Ramirez played second base and third base.
In 2019 and 2020, he played third base exclusively. (Baseball-Reference.com - July 2021)
- Jose is speedy on the bases. He has 70 speed.
- In 2013, Jose led the Eastern League with 38 stolen bases in 54 attempts. But also led the league with 16 times caught stealing.
- September 17, 2021: José not only continues to prove what he can do with his bat and his capabilities of having a more sound defensive season than any other in his career, but he consistently shows his speed isn't going anywhere. A stolen base against Yankees improved his success rate to 88.9% in stolen-base attempts on the season. His 24 swiped bags rank eighth in the Majors (fifth in the American League) and he's gone a perfect 14 for 14 in his attempts since July 28, 2021.
May 5-12, 2013: Ramirez was on the D.L. with a hip flexor injury.
- July 19-31, 2013: Jose was on the D.L.
November 22, 2013: Ramirez injured his left hand/thumb during a slide in a game for Este in the Dominican Winter League. Surgery was required, keeping Jose sidelined during the early part of 2014 spring training.
- June 2014: Jose was on the D.L. for two weeks with a strained hamstring.
June 28, 2019: Jose was on the paternity list.
Aug 24, 2019: The Indians were examining the severity of a right wrist injury that forced José to leave the 4-2 win over the Royals in the middle of his first-inning plate appearance. Ramirez, who doubled over in pain after foul-tipping a 2-0 fastball from Glenn Sparkman, had an MRI on the wrist.
Per manager Terry Francona, Ramirez had already been nursing some wrist soreness. But the new injury, which was publicly labeled “right wrist discomfort” by the club, was a bigger concern.
Aug. 25-Sept 24, 2019: Jose was on the IL as the club announced that the third baseman fractured his right hamate bone and will undergo surgery, which will be performed by Dr. Thomas Graham in New York.
Aug 26, 2019: Jose underwent successful surgery on his right hamate bone.
Sept 21, 2019: When José first fractured his right hand in August, an October 1 return sounded ambitious, but he seems ready to prove everyone wrong. Ramírez faced live pitching at Progressive Field prior to a game against the Phillies.
Sept 8, 2020: Ramírez was pulled from the victory over the Royals with left thumb discomfort. He underwent an MRI, which revealed only bruising in his left hand. Though the Tribe kept him out of the lineup for the second game against Kansas City, the team seemed optimistic that he wouldn’t miss significant time.
“Ramírez is doing OK,” said Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti. “He's day-to-day at this point. He's obviously not in the lineup tonight, but we'll reassess things.”