He’s already passed names such as Grady Sizemore, Rocky Colavito and Al Rosen. Most, and maybe all, of the franchise’s most prolific hitters could be next.
With his first home run of the 2023 season, Jose Ramirez moved into 10th place on the Guardians all-time home run leaders list.
He then hit his second home run in Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Detroit Tigers. That gives him 194 for his career.
It begs the question: When might Ramirez pass each of the remaining names on that list? And what are his chances of reaching No. 1?
Jose Ramirez’ home run pace and the Cleveland Guardians homer leaderboard
Let’s do some math. The number we’ll sort of be shooting for here, specifically, is his home run pace. To calculate that, let’s use his last three full season excluding the shortened 2020 season. His home run totals in those seasons: 23 (2019), 36 (2021) and 29 (2022). Since we’re projecting into the future, let’s also use some sort of projection system for 2023.
FanGraphs provides us with a number of different projection models, including ZiPS, Steamer and THE BAT X. All three have Ramirez with 25 home runs for 2023, so let’s add that into the equation to determine his pace, just to have a more nuanced mathematical component.
So, all in all, that’s a pace of 28.25 home runs per season. And with a 162-game season (assuming Ramirez takes his usual off days, though they aren’t common), that’s a home run every 5.73 games.
Now, additional factors will of course come into play, and it’ll be difficult to find out how exactly they’d alter that pace. Ramirez will turn 31 years old this September, and since we’re talking about most or all of the rest of his career, we know that power numbers tend to eventually regress once hitters reach their mid-to-late 30s.
A significant injury is also a possibility at some point down the road, which would change these projections if he were to miss time. Ramirez has had borderline incredible injury luck and plays nearly every single game the Guardians play (he’s played at least 152 games in five of the last six 162-game seasons), but it’s always a factor. That’s why we’re including his 2019 season, in which he played only 129 games, to sort of balance that. Though, it must also be noted that he hit 29 home runs last year while playing half the season through a thumb injury that needed surgery.
So, with these numbers, we’ll be projecting when Ramirez will pass each of the remaining nine players on the Guardians career franchise home runs list based on his home run pace, calculated by his last three full seasons and FanGraph’s projection for 2023.
Using the aforementioned calculation of a home run every 5.73 games, here’s when Ramirez can pass those hitters if he were to maintain that pace (also including his two home runs in the first 19 games this season). For the exact dates beyond 2023, let’s go ahead and assume Opening Day falls on the same date each year.
9. Travis Hafner (200); June 4, 2023
Travis Hafner finished his Cleveland career with a clean 200 home runs.
Ramirez is at 194 home runs 19 games into the 2023 season, meaning he’s roughly 40 games away from passing the man known as “Pronk.” That’d be around the beginning of June, when the Guardians are in Minnesota for a series with the Twins.
8. Andre Thornton (214); Sept. 5, 2023
There’s a pretty wide gap between Andre Thornton and Hafner, so it’ll take a few months for Ramirez to move into eighth place.
Based on this pace, he’ll pass Thornton with his 215th career home run against the Twins in early September, just this time in Cleveland.
7. Larry Doby (215); Sept. 11, 2023
Only six days later, Ramirez passes the legendary Larry Doby with a home run in San Francisco. It’s his 216th of his career and No. 24 in 2023.
T5. Carlos Santana, Hal Trosky (216); Sept. 17. 2023
After waiting months to pass Thornton, Ramirez can vault into the top 5 in a matter of days. He can move into fifth, passing Carlos Santana and Hal Trosky in one swing, which is on pace to be against the Texas Rangers at home in mid-September.
Ramirez ends the 2023 season fifth on the all-time franchise list.
4. Earl Averill (226); May 21, 2024
Ramirez passes Earl Averill, perhaps one of the most underrated players in Cleveland baseball history, in late May of the 2024 season.
Again, the dates are simply using the same dates that align with Game No. 46 of this season.
3. Manny Ramirez (236); July 27, 2024
Ramirez passes the first of three 90s sluggers atop Cleveland’s all-time home runs list in late July of next season.
Jose Ramirez, prior to hurting his thumb, was threatening Manny Ramirez’s franchise single-season RBIs record a year ago. It could be next year when he usurps Manny Ramirez’s hold on the No. 3 spot on this list.
2. Albert Belle (242); Sept. 3, 2024
With health intact and a consistent pace of dingers, Ramirez can move into second on the team’s all-time home runs list by the end of next season, passing Albert Belle, the hitter who had one of the most productive seasons at the plate in baseball history.
1. Jim Thome, 337; May 7, 2028
Here’s the tough one.
To become the franchise’s all-time home runs leader and pass Jim Thome, Ramirez would have to maintain his 5.73-game pace through May 7, 2028, when he finally takes hold of first place with his 338th career home run in the 34th game of that season, which happens to be the last year of team control under his current long-term deal, which he signed a year ago.
Ramirez, who would be 35 years old at that time, will need just about every ounce of that contract to chase down Thome.