Stock Watch: Plouffe, Ramirez

Third base has been a real test to the adage that baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. Sticking with players through their slow starts or long stretches of vacant counting stats has no doubt tested many of you, not to mention having to plug holes when injuries arise. Keeping a pulse on third base trends, there’s a decent waiver wire pickup, an annual early June buy low candidate.

Trevor Plouffe

In fanatasy baseball circles, it’s likely that Trevor Plouffe has more value as a shortstop (among the multitude of positions he’s eligible at) but up until a few weeks ago, he hardly had any value whatsoever. From April 6th to May 18th, Plouffe was “hitting” .135/.264/.284 with three home runs and a pair of doubles and if not for his positional versatility, he probably would have been sent back down to the minors.

Since May 19th, however, he’s caught fire — batting .327/.351/.727 with six home runs, four doubles, 11 RBI in 57 plate appearances  His overall line stands at a not-so-awe-inspiring .217/.299/.473 but it’s worth pointing out that his BABIP is only .207 on the season. During the stretch from May 19th, it was a little more league-average at .308 and he consequently posted terrific numbers. Based on his hit trajectory, his expected BABIP is about .270 on the season in large part due to an elevated fly ball rate, but while that’s perhaps not ideal, it’s certainly not .207 bad.

Note: After Tuesday night, Plouffe’s line since May 19th is now .350/.371/.783.

An interesting note on Plouffe is that as his hits started piling up, his walks dried up and his strikeouts have come down. In his first 25 games, he walked 13 times and struck out 18 and since May 19th he’s walked just twice and struck out 10 times. It could be that he’s simply getting meatballs in a “I dare you to hit it” approach by opposing pitchers or he’s being more aggressive at the plate. Regardless, it does seem like he’s seeing balls that he likes in the strike zone as he’s certainly tightened up his zone:

Plouffe has never profiled as a particularly high batting average kind of guy, but if his batted ball profile can start to resemble something closer to his career rates and his BABIP hovers around .275, he could hit .260 for the rest of the year — and his home run pace would certainly be worth having him around at that rate. No, he’s not likely to hit 30 home runs, but he definitely could finish up over 20.

Aramis Ramirez

Ramirez rather predictably came out of the gates looking wholly disinterested in hitting a baseball. From April 6th through May 1st, Ramirez was hitting just .205/.253/.364 with two home runs. His wOBA in April was starting to look like a caricature of his career trends at just .284 in April, up to .366 in May and now pushing .400 in June. Here’s his career wOBA by month:

So Ramirez really started his trend up earlier this season, although almost all of that production came in late May. Since the 19th of May, Ramirez is hitting .345/.438/.618 with three home runs, six doubles, and twelve RBI. It’s not all wrapped up in good fortune either as his BABIP is .348 over that time span, which might be a little rosy, but not otherworldly.

His batted ball profile is almost exactly what his career averages are and yet he’s getting just killed on home runs per fly ball at 7% (versus a career 13.1%). Milwaukee might not be the friendliest place on earth for right handed batters to hit, but it’s not much different than what he knew in Chicago, and statistically speaking, it’s actually a touch better – so you can expect that to improve. And perhaps improve a lot. His contact rates are down in comparison to his career rates, but consider the aforementioned crummy starts to the season, so don’t let that get you down quite yet.

If you’ve been hanging on to Ramirez through a miserable April and most of May, you should have a big cigar in your mouth looking like George Peppard, flanked by Faceman, Mr. T, and a funny looking dude because the proverbial plan has come together. If you’re in a buying mood and you’d like to pounce while his overall line isn’t terribly impressive, you might want to float some aggressive offers out there because the wait is probably over on Ramirez. He might not be the 30 home run, 110 RBI machine he once was, but there’s a good chance Ramirez will hit 15 home runs from here on out and his place in the order will likely net him another 50-60 RBI given good health.

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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.

12 Responses to “Stock Watch: Plouffe, Ramirez”

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  1. antoine says:

    A month ago, there was a chat poll asking who was more valuable, Plouffe or Liddi? 2/3 of chatters voted Liddi and I tried to explain to them why they were wrong (ISO, K rate, BABIP).

    I went and traded Liddi for Plouffe in my AL-only in early May and have been reaping the rewards ever since!

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  2. soamx says:

    I had a rare case of good timing on these guys, picked up Plouffe in all my leagues a couple weeks ago and traded Pedro Strop for Aramis Ramirez around the same time.

    I think Plouffe’s power is intriguing considering he has SS eligibility and the twins will be able to give him every day at bats for the rest of the year.

    I already traded Plouffe as part of a deal for Nelson Cruz in 1 league, and I wouldn’t mind selling high on him if the offers came but for now I see him as a guy with a ceiling to be an above average fantasy SS this season. Also he has some nice splits this season he’s killed lefties. not sure if the trend extends haven’t looked at his track record but he’s currently sporting a 1.140 ops against lefties.

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    • Brandon says:

      Who traded Aramis Ramirez for Pedro Strop? I’m against vetoing trades except in extreme cases, and that trade is extremely bad.

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  3. Paul says:

    The only caveat on Plouffe is the manager. On such a horrible team where a lot worse players have gained significant ABs for over a year, Plouffe should have been playing every day somewhere since at least last May. Maybe he has finally earned Gardy’s trust, but after repeatedly being burned by fickle managers who I suspect are constantly drunk, I’ll have to downgrade the rating and up the risk. Based on talent and skill development alone, I think Plouffe is two years away from being Josh Willngham, with a similar position profile. In the short term, if he plays and he qualifies at SS for you, he’s top 5.

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  4. chri521 says:

    I was ridiculed for asking about plouffe around these parts and unfortunately I caved to the pressure. Would have enjoyed his 2 week run if I had picked him up but c’est la vie.

    Btw, fanatasy new word for fanatical fantasy player?

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  5. J says:

    I would be a little wary about Aramis due to injury risk. He has been playing through a sore quad for a while and was limping a little after a base hit last night. He’s been toughing it out, but is clearly not 100%.

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  6. Kris says:

    “Ramirez rather predictably came out of the gates looking wholly disinterested in hitting a baseball.”


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  7. JR Ewing says:

    “No, he’s not likely to hit 30 home runs, but he definitely could finish up over 20.”
    Assuming Plouffe’s ~ 20% HR/FB rate comes down to 10% (closer to league average) he’d still be on pace to hit 26 HRs over the course of a 550 at-bat season. An 11.% HR/FB would pace him for 30 HRs in 550 at-bats. If he can get the at-bats he looks like JJ Hardy with positional flexibility.

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  8. rotofan says:

    My low-cost keepers in an A.L. only league from last season to this one included Plouffe and Seager, so I am pleased to see production from both.

    I am still more skeptical of Plouffe; while he has always had above-average power for a SS he has never shown this level of power and his 10 home runs include 4 just enough shots – he doesn’t elevate the ball as consistently as does someone such as Willingham. That said, Plouffe is just entering his peak years and I do expect 25 HR power with a tolerable if not good batting average.

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  9. Hacksaw Jim Duggan says:

    Can I ride a guy like Plouffe until Pedroia comes back around? Will Pedroia come back around? I’m sad. Pedroia, why oh why? I hate middle infielders.

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  10. TheLoLgen says:

    I traded Adam Wainwright and Chone Figgins for Aramis Ramirez and Dylan Bundy, about 2 days before Figgins was relegated to the bench. If Ramirez can perform like his career stats say he will for the rest of the year, I’ll be even more thrilled with this trade

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