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Ramirez earns Bob Feller Man of Year Award

Francona receives Good Guy honor from Cleveland BBWAA
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- When considering who was the Indians' best player from this past season, there are many candidates and no correct answer. Ace Corey Kluber would be a fine choice, as would energetic shortstop Francisco Lindor. Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli had career years. Andrew Miller dominated in the bullpen.

Then, there was Jose Ramirez.

CLEVELAND -- When considering who was the Indians' best player from this past season, there are many candidates and no correct answer. Ace Corey Kluber would be a fine choice, as would energetic shortstop Francisco Lindor. Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli had career years. Andrew Miller dominated in the bullpen.

Then, there was Jose Ramirez.

"He kind of saved [us]," manager Terry Francona said during the World Series.

Ramirez's breakout season has earned him special recognition by the Cleveland chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, which named him the recipient of the 2016 Bob Feller Man of the Year Award. Francona was also honored with the Frank Gibbons-Steve Olin Good Guy Award for the second time (also in 2014) for his respect and cooperation with the media.

Kluber, Lindor, Kipnis and Napoli were also nominated for the Man of the Year Award, while pitching coach Mickey Callaway, closer Cody Allen and Lindor joined Francona as the nominees for the Good Guy Award. The winners were voted on by BBWAA members during the Cleveland chapter's annual luncheon.

It seems fitting that Ramirez took home the honor one season after left fielder Michael Brantley earned the same award. With Brantley sidelined for most of the 2016 season due to troubles with his right shoulder and biceps, the Tribe was in need of someone to step up in a big way. Ramirez did so by playing multiple positions, hitting out of every spot in the lineup and turning in a brilliant offensive campaign.

"Out of Spring Training," Francona said, "I would be lying if, when we didn't have Brantley, if I [said I] wasn't worried about how we were going to score runs. And Ramirez kind of took Brantley's at-bats, and he took the at-bats and ran with them. Now, he's turned himself into one of the better players in the American League, and he's done it in multiple positions."

Consider how closely Ramirez's production mirrored Brantley's, too.

In 2015, Brantley turned in a .310/.379/.480 slash line with 15 home runs, 45 doubles, 84 RBIs, 68 runs, 15 steals and a 3.7 Wins Above Replacement (per Fangraphs). This past season, Ramirez had a .312/.363/.462 slash to go along with 11 homers, 46 doubles, 76 RBIs, 84 runs, 22 steals and a 4.8 WAR.

Ramirez led the Indians and ranked seventh in the AL in batting average. He also led the club and ranked third in the AL in strikeout rate (10 percent), and paced Tribe batters in doubles. The switch-hitting Ramirez ranked second on the club in steals, on-base percentage and OPS (.825). His 122 Weighted Runs Created Plus was second to only Santana (132) on the team and 23rd in the AL.

Brantley was limited to only 11 games, but Ramirez helped the Indians finish second in the AL in runs scored.

Ramirez also had a knack for coming through in critical situations.

Among AL batters, Ramirez trailed only Mike Trout (6.96), Josh Donaldson (4.66), David Ortiz (4.65) and Adrian Beltre (4.16) with a 3.91 Win Probability Added. Mookie Betts, who finished second to Trout in the AL Most Valuable Player Award voting, finished right behind Ramirez with a 3.51 WPA. Ramirez hit .355 with runners in scoring position, .346 with two outs, .366 with RISP and two outs and .400 with the bases loaded.

Ramirez did all of that while handling multiple roles. Early in the season, he filled in as a left fielder, but he later transitioned to third on a full-time basis after the Indians parted ways with veteran Juan Uribe on Aug. 1. Ramirez played second base (six games), shortstop (four games), third (103) and left (48), and started at least one game in every lineup spot.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cleveland Indians