Jose Ramirez has spent this season reminding fans of Major League Baseball that his breakout 2016 campaign was no fluke. For those efforts, and the strong finish by the voters on Thursday, he was named on Sunday night the starting third baseman for the American League All-Star team.
It has been a meteoric rise for Ramirez, once labeled as a utility man and a speed guy who inconsistently performed at the plate and had no set position to assume on the Cleveland roster. Ramirez can now add “All-Star” to his list of monikers, and this one has been well deserved.
He will certainly not be alone in Miami for the 88th Midsummer Classic when the game takes place next Tuesday night from Florida. Four teammates were also selected to attend the game, and manager Terry Francona will guide the club thanks to the Indians’ American League championship win last season.
Joining Ramirez in South Beach will be some of the key figures in both that pennant run last season as well as the Tribe’s success this season, as the club heads into the day Monday with a three-game lead over both the Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Royals in the American League Central Division. Starting pitcher Corey Kluber, reliever Andrew Miller, outfielder Michael Brantley, and shortstop Francisco Lindor will also make the trip as the Indians were tied with the Houston Astros, the New York Yankees, and the Washington Nationals for the most representatives for this season’s exhibition. It marks the first time that the Indians have had five All-Star representatives since 2004.
Ramirez has been a steady catalyst in the Indians lineup for a second straight season while manning the hot corner for much of the season after opening the year getting regular work at second base for an injured Jason Kipnis. Appearing in 80 of the Indians’ 81 games this season, Ramirez has supplied a .325/.379/.584 slash with 99 hits (26 doubles, four triples, and 15 homers) and 42 RBI. Twenty-seven different times this season, he has racked up at least two hits in a ball game (more than the 22 games that he has been held hitless). He leads the team in batting average, slugging, runs, hits, doubles, and triples, is second in homers, and ranks fourth in RBI.
He needed a massive boost of fan support entering the final day of voting, when he trailed Minnesota’s Miguel Sano by 34,000 votes with 12 hours to go. Ramirez won by 54,000. He becomes the first Indians third baseman to start an All-Star Game since Travis Fryman in 2000 and the first Indians player to be voted in as a starter since Juan Gonzalez in 2001.
He took to social media to thank the fans.
Thank you Cleveland!!!
I'm just a kid from the Dominican Republic 🇩🇴
— Jose Ramirez (@MrLapara) July 2, 2017
For Kluber, it is his second consecutive All-Star trip and his first time being voted in (after being an injury replacement last season). He may have missed a month, but you would never know it by his numbers, nor his results since returning from his stay on the disabled list in May. He has made 12 starts on the season, including six in an incredible June, and has posted a 7-2 record with a 3.02 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. In 80 1/3 innings of work this season, he has struck out 105 batters and walked 20 while holding opposing hitters to a .205 average. Despite missing a month’s worth of starts, Kluber ranks third in WHIP, fifth in strikeouts and ERA, and tenth in wins by starting pitchers.
His spot on the team becomes an interesting one, as he is scheduled to start on Tuesday night against San Diego and again on Sunday in the first half finale with Detroit. He could still appear in the exhibition, but that will require a conversation between him, the Indians staff, and Francona. He was named to the team via selection by the Baseball Office of the Commissioner and is the first Cleveland right-handed starter named to the All-Star team in consecutive seasons since Early Wynn (1955-57).
Miller will make his second straight appearance on the American League All-Star roster after pitching his way onto the team last year while with the New York Yankees, just weeks before joining the Indians. He has pitched in 36 games in relief this season for Cleveland, posting a 3-2 record with a 1.49 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP with 65 strikeouts and ten walks in 42 1/3 innings of work. Recently, he has spelled Cody Allen in the closer’s role and has earned a pair of saves in as many chances to go with 17 holds, tied for second in the AL. He has held opposing hitters to a .138 average this season. His ERA is fourth in the league among regular relievers and his strikeout total is third-best in all of baseball by bullpen arms, trailing Chris Devenski (Houston) and National League All-Star Corey Knebel (Milwaukee).
He is the first Indians’ left-handed reliever to make the team since Sid Monge in 1979. He was selected through player voting.
Brantley makes the team for the second time in his career (2014), marking an exclamation point to his return from his frustrating lost season last year, when he was held to eleven games while dealing with shoulder and biceps issues. He has played in 60 games for the Indians this season while missing time twice to ankle injuries (one of which landed him on the disabled list). Through the first three months of the season, he is hitting .303 with a .365 on-base percentage. He is eight of nine stealing bases this season.
Brantley was voted onto the team by the players.
Lindor may be the surprise selection of the bunch after becoming a household kind of name last season. This year has been a bit of a junior slump for the third-year shortstop, as he has been healthy and in the lineup on a regular basis for the Tribe, but the bat has not had the consistency that he has displayed in the past. While he is hitting just .248 with a .309 on-base percentage, he has displayed some surprising power – he has 23 doubles, second on the club, and 14 homers, good for third on the team. His 38 runs batted in slot in at fifth overall.
He earned his second straight All-Star trip via selection by his peers. As did his infield teammate and former double play partner Ramirez, Lindor took to social media to thank the fans on Instagram.
The AL roster looks as follows (starters listed first):
Catcher – Salvador Perez (KC), Gary Sanchez (NYY)
First base – Justin Smoak (TOR), Yonder Alonso (OAK)
Second base – Jose Altuve (HOU), Starlin Castro (NYY), Jonathan Schoop (BAL)
Third base – Jose Ramirez (CLE), Miguel Sano (MIN)
Shortstop – Carlos Correa (HOU), Francisco Lindor (CLE)
Outfield – Mike Trout (LAA), Aaron Judge (NYY), George Springer (HOU), Mookie Betts (BOS), Michael Brantley (CLE), Nelson Cruz (SEA), Avisail Garcia (CHI)
Designated hitter – Corey Dickerson (TB)
Starting pitchers – Yu Darvish (TEX), Michael Fulmer (DET), Dallas Keuchel (HOU), Corey Kluber (CLE), Lance McCullers (HOU), Chris Sale (BOS), Ervin Santana (MIN), Luis Severino (NYY), Jason Vargas (KC)
Relievers – Dellin Betances (NYY), Craig Kimbrel (BOS), Andrew Miller (CLE)
Francona will bring his entire coaching staff with him to the game and has also tabbed a long-time friend to join him when it was announced that former Indians bullpen coach and current Tampa manager Kevin Cash will help coach the AL squad.
The 88th edition of the Midsummer Classic will be held on Tuesday, July 11th, from Marlins Park in Miami, Florida.
Photo: Duane Burleson/Getty images