Yes, Jose Ramirez racked up a whopping 56 doubles over 152 total games played in 2017. How crazy is this number? Well, Ramirez was only the 19th player (according to baseball-reference) in baseball history to record at least 56 doubles in a season. The last to achieve this number was Brian Roberts in 2009, although Matt Carpenter came close in 2013 with 55.
Ramirez was never a hyped prospect and only climbed up as high as #9 on the Indians prospect list for Baseball America and #12 for MLB in 2013. His numbers in the minors were generally strong – a high average hitter with some pop and could steal bases, but no one saw his 2016 breakout season coming, especially after batting only .219 in 2015.
In 2016, Ramirez finished with 46 doubles, tied for third among all hitters, with only a 26.8% hard hit rate. It was a fantastic season, but most came into 2017 thinking that may be the best he’ll get. The underlying stats supported what he had done, and his phenomenal strikeout rate led us to believe he should be able to produce solid numbers again. But, no one saw the next step he took in 2017.
In 2017, Ramirez bumped his hard hit rate to 34% while maintaining a nearly identical walk to strikeout ratio. This not only elevated his doubles, but increased his home runs from 11 in 2016, to 29 in 2017. This is a huge jump in extra base hits – 60 to 91 with only 20 extra at bats. Now of course, many will say the juiced balls had a role here, but nonetheless, it was a significant jump. The only other stat that stands out against 2016 is his fly ball ratio, which increased by almost 3.5%.
So what does all of this tell us for 2018? Jose Ramirez has proven to be an elite caliber player and supports a 10-11% strikeout rate with one of the highest contacts rates in the league at 87.4% according to Fangraphs. His BABIP actually decreased and he only knocked 83 RBIs on one of the league’s strongest lineups. I think there is no question Ramirez can continue this type of output, but I’d plan for a dip in home runs. My guess is Ramirez is a solid bet to hit the 50 mark again in doubles, but I’d drop the home runs down closer to the 18-20 range. Tack on a few more steals and you still have an elite fantasy player at a weak position.
Stats referenced from www.fangraphs.com