Aramis’ Troubles with the Wood

The finest moment in Jim Hendry’s general managing career still might be that July night in 2003 when he landed Aramis Ramirez. Henry wound up acquiring Kenny Lofton too for Jose Hernandez, a minor league pitcher, a promise of future employment to Dave Littlefield, and Bobby Hill (much to the chagrin of Randall Simon, this was not the animated character who adores fruit pies). The Cubs were a series of unfortunate events away from reaching the World Series, and the Pirates were the Pirates.

Six and a half years later, Ramirez is the only player from that trade still in the confines of Major League Baseball (Hill has carved out a niche in the Newark Bears, hitting .286/.417/.414 for his career). Some fans of the Cubs may very well wish he was elsewhere with his production so far in the 2010 season. He’s batting .155/.215/.278 with three home runs and three doubles to his name.

Some aspects of Ramirez’s struggles aren’t showing up in his slash line either, such as his strikeout rate which is approaching 26%. Ramirez’s career strikeout rate is hovering above 15%. One of the other underlying issues with Ramirez is his inability to hit fastballs. He’s giving away five runs per 100 fastballs, which is the worst in baseball. In fact, Juan Pierre is second worst, and he’s only giving away three runs per 100 fastballs seen.

Ramirez only has a .169 batting average on balls in play, but some would probably raise the question: is this bad luck or is it a slow bat? Call the sudden decaying run values against fastballs by Morgan Ensberg and Richie Sexson to the stand and there’s a battle brewing. Through Saturday’s affairs, Ramirez was swinging and missing at roughly 11% of the fastballs he’d seen and fouling about 19% off. In 2009, Ramirez found himself whiffing a little under 8% of the time and fouling off 27% of fastballs seen.

It’s probably nothing to worry about. Ramirez started the 2006 season with a similarly poor April against fastballs and chugged along to a .381 wOBA. Still, sharing a dishonorable accolade with recent leaders like Brian Giles and Kevin Millar can’t do much to inspire confidence alongside the slow start.

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6 Responses to “Aramis’ Troubles with the Wood”

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  1. Andy S. says:

    This is the greatest article title ever.

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  2. CFIC says:

    my hunch is that he still has shoulder issues

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  3. CubsFan says:

    Aramis has looked much better as of late. After an absolutely HORRID start, he’s at least starting to hit line drives again (I believe his LD% has jumped significantly, though I don’t have the numbers in front of me). Purely from watching him play, he seems to have been the victim of some serious bad luck over the past two or so weeks. He’s hit some absolute rockets that have gone right at defenders.

    None of this is to say I’m not at least a little concerned. But, there has appeared to be a bit of a turn around for him (even if it is painfully slow).

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  4. resolution says:

    @CubsFan, I was going to post this anyway, but it’s good that you specifically mentioned it. I was checking out Aramis’ numbers about a week or so ago and his line drive rate was at 8%. Right now it’s at ~14% so he’s raised it a bunch in a short amount of time. The batted ball numbers back this up too.

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  5. Klatz says:

    The negative pitch type values for fastballs is the most worrisome part. If you take a look at the fastball values for Ensberg, Sexson and Griffey for example, the fastball values have all coincided with their rapid declines in offensive stats.

    Aramis’s swing percentages aren’t too out of line suggesting that he’s not fishing more. His contact percentage is about 8-9% down from his average. These data suggest that his swing is slower than it should be and he’s failing to catch up to fastballs. Lingering effects of the shoulder injury? That would seem weird considering he was fine last year after he came back. But there does seem to be something wrong that can’t be explained by just plain luck.

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  6. hoggin88 says:

    and a month later…Aramis is just as bad as ever. :(

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