We’re just about getting to that point in the season when we can start seriously talking about the major awards, and the Nationals are almost certainly going to find themselves smack in the middle of these debates.
Daniel Murphy is an obvious candidate for National League MVP, perhaps even the favorite with two months to go. Stephen Strasburg is a contender for the NL Cy Young Award, and Max Scherzer is making a strong push to join that conversation as well. And Dusty Baker’s name definitely will come up in any talk about the NL’s Manager of the Year.
Here’s a name, though, that probably deserves to be included in the mix: Wilson Ramos. At this point, how can you not at least consider his candidacy for MVP?
And it’s not just the afterglow of Sunday’s 1-0 win over the Giants, in which Ramos accounted for the game’s only run with his seventh-inning homer off Madison Bumgarner. This has been brewing for a while, and it’s probably not going to go away.
Ramos enters tonight’s game against the Indians with a .338 batting average (second only to Murphy in the league), 18 homers, 62 RBIs (tops among all MLB catchers), a .387 on-base percentage (11th in the NL), .556 slugging percentage (eighth in the NL) and .943 OPS (fifth in the NL). All impressive.
Now, throw in Ramos’ defensive contributions. Though his caught-stealing rate has dipped a bit this season (from 44 percent to 38 percent) he’s still far better than the MLB average (28 percent). His catcher’s ERA, meanwhile, is a sparkling 3.21.
So, how does all of that stack up with the NL’s best players? Well, Ramos currently sports a 3.8 WAR, which is tied for sixth in the league according to Fangraphs.
That still leaves him back of the pack a bit when it comes to MVP talk, with Murphy, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Corey Seager probably ahead of him at this point.
But it’s worth noting that if Ramos keeps this up, he’s going to wind up with one of the best seasons ever by a catcher. He’s currently hitting .338 and on pace to hit 26 homers. Here’s the entire list of catchers who have done that in major league history: Gabby Hartnett (1930), Mike Piazza (1995, 1997) and Joe Mauer (2009).
And Ramos isn’t exactly considered an offense-only catcher.
How all of that would be evaluated by those who vote for the MVP this season remains to be seen. But it’s safe to say we’ve reached a point where anyone who doesn’t give Ramos legitimate consideration won’t have paid nearly enough attention.