Virtually out of nowhere, Jose Ramirez had a breakout season for he Cleveland Indians in 2016. He eventually took over as the team’s primary third baseman, while posting a .312/.363/.462 slash-line, 11 home runs, 76 RBI, 84 runs scored and 22 stolen bases. Fantasy eligibility at the hot corner this year goes without saying, with 117 games and 91 starts there in 2016, but Ramirez is also eligible in the outfield after playing left field for 48 games last season.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been bothered by a right shoulder issue all spring, and he’s now expected to miss another 4-5 weeks. That puts his month of April in jeopardy, and Ramirez looks like to shift over to second base to fill that void. He played nine games at second base in 2016, but a typical eligibility requirement is 10 games and Ramirez could qualify quickly this year if he takes over for Kipnis to start the season.
Compared to his dismal 2015 season, most of Ramirez’s peripheral numbers were within close proximity last season. A notable exception is his BABIP, which jumped over 100 points (.232 to .333) on the strength of more line drives (22.8 percent; 16.2 percent in 2015), using the whole field a bit better and more hard contact (26.8 percent; 24 percent in 2015). Some batting average correction is probably coming, but any noticeable regression would be a surprise.
Ramirez is not going to carry a fantasy team, but he will add something in all five traditional categories. With eligibility for at least two positions, and likely three, there’s even more value. The most recent ADP data at Fantasy Pros.com also has Ramirez as the 115th overall pick and the 14th third baseman off the board. The dismal news about Kipnis came on the day that ADP aggregation was last updated, but even with the knowledge the shoulder issue would sideline him for Opening Day he was still being drafted 19 picks sooner than Ramirez.
Jose Ramirez 2017 Projection: .290, 10 home runs, 68 RBI, 90 runs scored, 25 stolen bases