The 2008 Chicago White Sox have been full of surprises, from Carlos Quentin's league-leading 24 home runs to John Danks' sub-3.00 ERA to Gavin Floyd's ten wins before the All-Star break.
Somehow, though, the production of Alexei Ramirez has been lost in the multitude of unexpected performances by a team that unexpectedly is in first place here in late July.
When Ramirez was signed straight from Cuba to a four-year, $4.75 million contract on December 21, 2007, it was widely known that the "Cuban Missile" had loads of talent. When he would realize that talent was a question mark.
Before the White Sox reported to spring training in Arizona, Ramirez was expected to either begin the season in the minors, with AA Birmingham or AAA Charlotte, his destination depending on his performance in March.
However, in March, Ramirez flashed the ability that led him to star status in his baseball-crazed homeland. He was hitting the ball all over the field, and he was doing it with authority. He was running the bases with speed not seen since Lance Johnson. And he was playing solid defense at three different positions.
Ramirez played himself on to the roster for the White Sox this year, and many forget that it was he, not Carlos Quentin, who was starting alongside Nick Swisher and Jermaine Dye in Ozzie Guillen's outfield on March 31 in Cleveland.