What To Do With Aramis Ramirez
As dynasty leaguers, we usually spend a disproportionate amount of our time focusing on young players and what they could be. After all, that’s a huge part of how you have to build a successful roster. What we, collectively, do not spend enough time focusing on are the post-prime (32 or older) crowd that can help us win titles right now. Today I’m going to focus on one player who doesn’t quite seem to get his due in long-term leagues and could probably be had for below market value in your league.
If it seems like Aramis Ramirez has been around forever, it’s because he pretty much has. He debuted for the Pirates back in 1998 as a teenager, and has bounced his way around the NL Central with the Cubs and now the Brewers. Now 34 years old, Ramirez just finished up the first year of a 3 year, $36m contract – which was commonly seen at the time to be a bit of an overpay on behalf of Milwaukee. The funny thing is that he was so good in 2012, that according to FanGraphs, he was worth $29.1m alone in 2012. Of course, this takes into account some fluky UZR performance, but you get the point – he was very good this past season.
When most people think about Aramis Ramirez, three separate things come to mind: consistency, early season struggles and injuries. We’re going to tackle them now.
Consistency: This one is spot on. Over the last ten seasons, Ramirez has put up an AVERAGE season of .294 with 28 HR, 98 RBI and 79 runs scored in 137 games. And if you’re thinking, “oh great, that is probably just heavily skewed by his prime”, let’s instead take a look at just his post-prime numbers. 2011 was his age 32 season, so over the last two years, he has put up an average season of .303, 27 HR, 99 RBI and 86 runs scored in 149 games. Yes, he’s been just as good, if not better.
Early season struggles: This one is also spot on. We know that offense tends to increase as the weather gets warmer, but the upticks are not dreastic. With Ramirez, it’s drastic. In 2012, Ramirez was hitting .218/.289/.366 with 2 HR and 19 RBI in 142 AB after the Brewers lost to the Twins on May 18th. From May 19th to the end of the season, Ramirez hit .327/.384/.598 with 25 HR and 86 RBI in 428 AB. Now, previous seasons haven’t been as dramatic, but here are his monthly OPS splits for his career: April – .795, May – .786, June – .863, July – .912, August – .910, September – .890. That’s enough of a sample to be significant at this point.
Injuries: This one is a bit deceiving. Ramirez does appear as day-to-day throughout the season a lot – in fact, he has 11 entries in his Baseball Prospectus injury page just in the past two years. However, he only missed 18 games combined with all of those maladies. On top of that, Ramirez has only made two trips to the DL in the past five seasons (and just five for his entire career). Yes, he did miss 50 games in 2009 with a shoulder dislocation, but he hasn’t missed more than the minimum 15 games for a DL stint since 2005. In essence, he’s not a guy you’re going to count on to play 160 games (mostly because he never has), but he should be good for 140-145 games – which is more than enough for him to get you the stats you’re looking for at the hot corner.
Over the next couple of seasons, Ramirez should continue to provide dynasty leaguers with near star-level performance. In 2012, he was the #5 third baseman on the ESPN Player Rater. In 2011, he was #4. And to top the whole package off, he even stole 9 bases in 2012 – the same number he had stolen in his previous 9 seasons combined. With Runnin’ Ron Roenicke still at the helm, maybe he can even wrangle up a handful of steals. After all, stranger things have happened.
So if you’re a contending team, sit back and enjoy the production you’ll continue to get from Ramirez. And if you’re a rebuilding team, he should still fetch a pretty penny – although be cognizant of his historical early season struggles. You’re likely to get more for him during the off-season than in the first half of 2013. Of course, if you’re on the other side of that coin and are interested in dealing for him, try and use that timing to your advantage.