As part of our current pro/con series, Chris gave you an assessment of Aramis Ramirez that would probably have grandma Ramirez shaking her cane at the computer. Indeed, Ramirez hasn’t wowed the Chicago faithful with a bevvy of beer-splashing bleacher blasts and in general his triple-slash line of .278/.329/.401 inspires more yawning than CSPAN. However, I believe there are better days ahead for Ramirez, and not only should owners sit tight in anticipation of better production, but you just might attempt to wriggle him from an unsuspecting owner who perhaps still believes that batting average rules.
First of all let me say what everyone already knows, but just for the sake of transparency, Aramis Ramirez has been pretty darn bad. And yet, somehow it feels like we’ve been here before with him, doesn’t it?
Indeed, Aramis Ramirez entertained us with a .207/.268/.380 line before the break last season, which sent his act packing to waiver wires across America. And then, poof, he turned into an Aramis Ramirez lookalike and went .276/.321/.526 for the remainder of the season. This isn’t the first time he’s done pulled the old yo-yo routine. To reference a chart from a previous piece on Ramirez, he tends to get his bat going somewhere around mid-June and it pretty much stays at a pretty impressive clip the remainder of the season:
Why he seems to hate hitting from March through May, I don’t know – and in fact, he’s had a couple of years where he’s raked in those months, but on his career, the evidence is pretty telling.
We are, however, still waiting for that big June coming out party for Ramirez as his performance has been a bit of a mixed bag. While his ISO is following the general trend upwards, his batting average has become rather unseemly. This could partly be explained by dumb luck as his June BABIP is .206 and his expected BABIP is .280, so with a few more lucky hops in June, he ought to be a little bit back to normal. The important part is that he’s hitting for more power, and has already matched his RBI total from May in less than half of the games played.
On the ISO front, historically, he seems to really take off in July. The following chart is a little convoluted – but it is ISO by month looking at his career, what happened last year, and results so far in 2011:
At this date a year ago, Aramis Ramirez had 5 home runs and 6 doubles and he finished with 25 and 21, respectively. If he follows his own historical trend, this is precisely the time to own Aramis Ramirez.
Lastly, I can’t see any major red flags to predict the end of quality production from Ramirez. He is striking out less, making more contact, and his current batting average isn’t being buoyed by unsustainable good fortune. His hit trajectory is remarkably consistent with his career figures save for one pretty important one:
Just like 2010, his HR/FB rate is lagging way behind his career rate. Right now, he’s at 4.4% HR/FB and his career rate is 13%. Even if we are conservative and assume a league average 10.5% HR/FB from here on out, there’s a whole lot of improvement coming.
I can’t say for certain that Aramis Ramirez is going to turn things around and get red hot like he did last year. But looking at the indicators, analyzing his career, and considering the dearth of evidence suggesting that he will continue to be this unproductive, I’d have to put my money on another midsummer surge. Time will tell.
Note: this piece was written prior to the game on June 14th in which Aramis Ramirez homered, drove in two runs, and scored a run.
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