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.