No. 2: Yohan Ramirez
Yohan Ramirez was the only good Mariners bullpen pitcher this season. The Seattle bullpen was one of the worst in the league, and Ramirez was the lone bright spot. Expectations were pretty low for Ramirez who was a Rule 5 Draft selection in 2019. To be honest, I did not even know who he was until the season started.
When he was with the Astros, his minor league numbers were average. In 2019, he posted a decent 3.99 ERA where he started 15 games and made 12 relief appearances. His K/9 rate was at an amazing 13.4 but his BB/9 was 6.3.
When the Mariners organization acquired him they knew he had an electric fastball with the potential of becoming a solid reliever. But the question was whether he would be able to find the strike zone more often. And in 2020, Ramirez managed to work around his control issues and deliver a 2.61 ERA. He struck out 26 batters in 20.2 innings as well.
I don’t think Jerry Dipoto or Scott Servais expected the 25-year-old to be as dominant as he was. Hitters had a tough time getting hits off of him. In 2020, he only allowed 9 hits. When looking at some of the advanced metrics, batters’ average exit velocity off of Ramirez ranked in the 81st percentile of the MLB (the higher the better).
His allowed hard-hit percentage was in the 89th percentile. And Yohan’s whiff percentage was in the 73rd percentile. These are all awesome numbers and he definitely blew the expectations out of the water.
I think what was even more surprising was how effective his slider was. Jerry Dipoto knew of his upper 90s fastball, but his slider was the most effective pitch for him in 2020. Hitters hit .031 against his slider. It generated a 42.9 whiff rate.
The best chance hitters had against Ramirez was walking and it will be interesting to see if he can take another step forward and limit his walks in 2021. Yohan was a surprise performance in 2020 and even entered his name into the future closer conversations. Now, onto the third and final breakout player…