Playing Hide and Seek with Aramis Ramirez

Aramis Ramirez hasn’t always been this kind of hitter. He has occasionally been productive in April and May over his long career — but that’s an exception to his rule. In his career, and especially over the last several seasons, Ramirez has had a serious case of Jeckyl and Hyde.

In 2010, it very much looked like Ramirez was finished. Over the course of the first half of the 2010 season, Ramirez hit .178/.243/.296 with six home runs and just seven doubles. Ramirez was hitting the waiver wire all over fantasy baseball, but patient owners were rewarded. From that point on, Ramirez hit .294/.338/.583 with 19 home runs, 14 doubles, and 60 RBI – vintage Aramis Ramirez.

That smoking finish brought Ramirez into the 2011 season ranked at the top of the third tier at third base, and he rewarded owners with a perfectly acceptable batting average but just TWO home runs in the first two months of the season, and you could audibly hear the foot tapping as owners tried to wait out another unbelievable slow start. And then he hit 24 home runs to the end of the season.

With Ramirez changing teams, coming into the season at 34 years of age, count me among the many that thought the proverbial jig was up and Ramirez just wouldn’t be able to reproduce his solid contributions to fantasy squads. Or at least he couldn’t keep this ridiculous slow start business up and get away with it. Right?


After posting a .246/.318/.435 triple slash line over the first two months of the season, the new Brewer has since gone .321/.378/.582, hitting 15 home runs and driving in 52 runs. During this span, he’s been one of the most valuable third basemen in fantasy baseball. And looking at that chart above, it seems rather silly that we didn’t all 100% expect it.

Ramirez just seems to take the first couple of months off before he starts earning his paycheck. If you can find someone to explain why, that would be mighty valuable (and intriguing) information. But the fact is, it’s demonstrable over thousands of plate appearances now — you simply want Aramis Ramirez in the second half.

Now I know that extra base hits is wrapped up in the wOBA calculation, but his crazy slow starts are even exacerbated when we look at his historical ISO by month (League AVG is 2011, just for context):

So across the league, ISO is up a teensy bit over the course of the season but you can see where Ramirez, in his career, is notoriously a slow starter relative to his power stroke. 2011 was a real roller coaster, and this season, he appears to be peaking rather late — even by his standards. If we were to trust his career, you’d have to guess it will settle in somewhere around .240 for the remainder of the season, but even so — Ramirez is setting himself up to have yet another classic Aramis Ramirez .290/.350/.500 with 25 home runs and 90+ RBI season.

I find the consistency of his inconsistency fascinating and irritating at the same time. As a fantasy owner, you get used to the ups and downs of player performance, but it’s unnerving to endure a two-month-long drought with the expectation that the patience will pay off. Heading into 2013, I’m probably not going to be targeting Ramirez and I’ll likely only draft him if it’s a real value pick. But sure as hell, when mid June rolls around, I’ll probably be floating offers for him.

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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.

8 Responses to “Playing Hide and Seek with Aramis Ramirez”

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  1. chri521 says:

    Hi Michael as an Aramis owner this has always frustrated me. The big reason I had thought (and was postulated here as well) was temperature. Chicago and Pittsburgh were outdoor stadiums where it could get real cold and Aramis likes the heat. In Miller, figured that since it was climate controlled he would stabilize a little bit.

    Any way to compare temperatures and home/road/dome/outdoor splits and add to this analysis?

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    • Michael Barr says:

      No smoking gun here. Hits better in the daytime, better in open than dome. But I wouldn’t be making any fantasy baseball decisions based on this data.

      There’s evidence that home runs increase in hotter months in large part because the ball travels further in warmer air, but it’s certainly not enough to explain ARam’s insanely slow starts.

      If we could find gametime temp, now that might be interesting…

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    • Michael Barr says:

      Alright, so B-ref has gametime temp. From 2010-2012, in games that ARam has played in 60 degrees or under, he’s hit .236 with 3 HR in 217 PA’s. But obviously, those games are all going to be at the beginning of the season when it’s colder, so it doesn’t really answer the slow start question.

      So I looked at all games that were 70 degrees or hotter in March/April/May going back to 2009. In 286 plate appearances, ARam had 255 AB’s, he hit 11 HR’s and had a .290 Batting Average, Slugging .620. Slugging percentage stabilizes after about 350 plate appearances, so I’d need a bigger sample size, but based on this cursory glance, I’d say ARam likes to hit in warmer weather.

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      • chri521 says:

        Thanks confirms suspicions on that front. But wouldn’t a dome be a constant temperature no matter what if the thing is closed of course?

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      • DBA455 says:

        Sorry, but – where can you find the game time temp data on B-R?

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      • Ender says:

        The Brewers don’t play in a dome, they play in a retractable roof stadium. Big difference between the two chri521.

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  2. JR says:

    Considering his effort level over the years,it’s not at all hard to imagine that his early season woes come from an utter lack of preparation in the offseason. By the way,one of my true joys in life is listening to a Cubs TV broadcast of a Brewers game. Brenly can barely conceal (if he even attempts to!) his absolute contempt for Aramis.

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