I know a lot of you have been asking about Hanley Ramirez’s whereabouts in these tiers. I’ve purposely excluded him simply because I honestly don’t know where to include him. I’ll have a whole discussion on his rank come Friday. You can hurl your insults at me then. For now, on to Tier Four.
There may not be a more consistently mediocre hitter than Ramirez. Over the last three seasons his wOBA’s are .319, .322 and .319. He’s hit 15, 18 and 15 home runs. He’s driven in 68, 70 and 70 runs. His stolen base total was cut in half this past season, but from 2008-2010 it was 13, 14 and 13. It’s safe to say he likes duplicates. His plate discipline and batted ball numbers have been steady as well. He’s not a star and really doesn’t have the potential to be one. What is he? He’s an average shortstop who benefits from playing in a hitter friendly park. There will be no surprises one way or another in keeping Ramirez.
Speaking of average shortstops, Escobar fits that bill nicely. Where Alexei Ramirez is lacking in average and on-base-percentage, those are areas Escobar does well. I’m overlooking his 2010 season for a number of reasons. Excluding that year he’s never hit below .288 nor had an on-base-percentage under .366. His career 54.9 percent ground ball rate takes away any power potential he may possess. He was greatly helped by the Rogers Centre in 2011, hitting .321/.416/.480 there; a .226 point difference in OPS from his road games. Escobar was a pleasant surprise in 2011, flying under the radar and going later than he probably should have in most drafts due to his rocky 2010. He’s the last of the shortstops you should consider keeping.
The only asset Escobar possesses on the offensive side of things is his speed. He stole 26 bases last season and has stolen as many as 42 at the Triple-A level. He had some hot streaks last season, posting a .357 wOBA in June and a .372 in September. In the other four months he failed to muster anything higher than a .278. If you’ve drafted properly Escobar shouldn’t be starting over any other shortstop you have in a standard league. Unless you’re desperate for steals, he’s more of a bench player and profiles to a fringe starter in deeper leagues.
Ian Desmond $4
Being a slightly better version of Alcides Escobar isn’t a compliment. They each cannot hit for average or take a walk, but Desmond hits for more power, granted he’s not exactly Tulowitzki-like in that category. Unlike Escobar he failed to have any exceedingly good months, peaking with a wOBA of .348, otherwise riding along in the sea of obscurity. He has a minor league track record of hitting success, but in his two full MLB seasons that has yet to translate. There’s double digit home run potential and he’ll steal you ~20 bases, but he’s below par in runs, runs batted in, average and on-base-percentage.