By Nathan Petrashek
Editor’s note: This is the sixth article in Cream City Cables’ 2014 position preview series. Other positions: catcher, shortstop, center field, left field, and right field.
When the Brewers first signed Aramis Ramirez, no one was really sure whether or how he would hold up through the duration of his three-year contract. Things didn’t start too well; in 2012, Ramirez’s first year, he hit just .214/.264/.381 in April, leading many to comment on Ramirez being a notoriously”slow starter” and all that kind of nonsense. We thoroughly debunked it in 2012 and so far in 2014 Ramirez hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down, hitting a torrid .478 in 21 plate attempts.
Red flags abound with Ramirez, though. To say he’s not young is being charitable; he’ll turn 36 in June, well beyond most ballplayers’ primes. His age is showing, too, as he missed a substantial portion of the 2013 season with knee issues: first, a sprained left knee, and later, tendinitis. Even when Ramirez was active, he was clearly hobbled and had just a .773 OPS upon hitting the DL. Ramirez returned in August, and his .301/.387/.528 triple slash in the final months (and without Ryan Braun in the lineup) probably erased whatever doubt the team had about their starting third baseman coming into 2014.
Ramirez looks to have rebounded nicely defensively from numerous horrid seasons with the Cubs, and has made a few outstanding plays at the hot corner already this season. He’s not a rangy third baseman by any means, but still has a pretty good throwing arm and doesn’t commit many errors.
The Brewers aren’t paying Ramirez for his defense, though; they’re paying for his bat. Ramirez has been remarkably consist throughout his career, hitting close to .300 with 25-30 home runs. That power is clearly diminishing, but Ramirez still makes decent enough contact to hit for average. Ramirez is aggressive at the plate though, which could result in higher strikeout totals, something he has has typically avoided.
As is true of most aging players, the big question will be Ramirez’s health. Ron Roenicke has suggested he’ll give Ramirez regular rest, so don’t expect a repeat of the 630 plate attempts Ramirez made in 2012.
351 PA, 43 R, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 0 SB, 10.3 BB%, 15.7 K%, .283/.370/.461, 132 wRC+
Steamer: 533 PA, 62 R, 19 HR, 74 RBI, 2 SB, 7.4 BB%, 14.3 K%, .282/.343/.464, 125 wRC+
ZiPs: 469 PA, 56 R, 17 HR, 79 RBI, 2 SB, 7.0 BB%, 14.3 K%, .183/.343/.475, 128 wRC+
Will make $16M ($6M deferred) in the final year of his three-year deal with the Brewers; mutual option for 2015 with $4M buyout.
All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.