Player Background

Signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1994, Aramis Ramirez became one of the best prospects in all of baseball by the late 1990s. Baseball America named Ramirez, a big third basemen with power, the 26th-best prospect in baseball before the 1997 season, and he went on to hit .278/.390/.517 with 29 home runs and 80 walks in 137 games in High-A that year. He was named the no. 5 prospect in the game the following year and was called up to the major leagues in May despite his lack of experience above A-ball. After struggling to adjust to the majors, he was exceptional at Triple-A in 1999 as a 21-year-old. Ramirez hit .328/.425/.546 with 21 home runs in 131 games and had both more walks (73) and extra-base hits (57) than strikeouts (56). He seemed poised to take over the third-base job in Pittsburgh even with his poor fielding—he made 42 errors in ’99—but the Pirates sent him down after a slow start, and once he returned in the second half, he separated his shoulder. Ramirez finally managed to hold a major-league position all season in 2001 as he hit .300/.350/.536 with 34 home runs and 40 doubles. He didn’t fare quite as well the following year as he was bothered by an ankle sprain and posted just a .229 TAv. The Pirates waited for Ramirez to show signs of life after losing weight and coming back healthy the next year before trading him to the Cubs in the middle of the 2003 season.

It was with the Cubs that Ramirez truly established himself as a power-hitting force to be reckoned with. From 2004-2008, he had an OPS of at least .898 and an AVG of at least .289 in every season. In that same period of time, his .252 ISO ranked 18th among all qualified hitters and his 158 home runs ranked 17th. He was on the All-Star team twice, in 2005 and 2008. While there have been a few bumps in the road along the way, as Ramirez has occasionally dealt with injuries, he’s rebounded and has actually aged fairly well for a ballplayer. After hurting his shoulder in 2009 and enduring a down year in 2010, he hit .306/.361/.510 with 26 home runs in his last year in Chicago, taking home the Silver Slugger award for third base.

He then signed a four-year, $46 million deal with Milwaukee and continued his slugging ways. While playing in the same number of games with only four more plate appearances than he had in 2011, Ramirez added 15 doubles, two triples, and a home run to his line. He hadn’t hit even 40 doubles since his first full season in the majors in 2001, but he hit 50 on his way to a top-10 finish in the MVP voting.

The music hasn’t stopped for Ramirez just yet, but he’s been slowed in recent years by knee problems in 2013 and a hamstring strain in 2014. Last year, he posted the worst ISO of his 18 year major-league career (.142), but did so with a .285 AVG. Ramirez hasn’t forgotten how to hit, but his body isn’t getting any younger.

What’s Happened So Far

Ramirez’s power has somewhat returned, as his ISO in 79 games this season sits at .189. In about a half-season, he’s already approaching both his home-run and doubles totals from last season with 18 two-baggers (23 last year) and 11 taters (15 last year). Ramirez is having his best power season in two years, which shows that he’s healthier than he’s been in some time.

While he had one season in the minors during which he took 80 walks, Ramirez has walked more than 50 times in a season just once in his career. His 5.5 percent walk rate this year is below his career seven percent rate, but his 14 percent strikeout clip has remained basically right in line with his career rate (13.8 percent). Given that his power has returned along with his health and that nothing seems out of the ordinary in his strikeout or walk rates, or batted-ball data (still at 20 percent line-drive rate), all signs point to bad luck being responsible for his .248 AVG.

His AVG is well below his career mark of .284 and the worst he’s had in a single season since 2010, which was also the last time he had a BABIP below .308. Ramirez’s BABIP this season is .253, and he has a career BABIP of .292.

What to Expect the Rest of 2015

Ramirez has been on fire over the past month. In his last 20 games, he’s hitting .345/.413/.569 with three home runs, 16 RBI, and a .357 BABIP. Unfortunately, the arbitrary endpoints are making him seem better than he is as those numbers are just being propped by a hot two weeks in July. As you can see from his monthly breakdown below, he really struggled to get hits on balls in play until this month.




































Ramirez is obviously a proven major-league hitter with a track record of better BABIP seasons under his belt, and after the first three months, he was due for some positive regression. Still, you can never really be sure when it comes to a 37-year-old hitter with no speed. It’s also worth noting that Ramirez’s hard-hit percentage is down significantly from 37 percent last year to 29 percent, which is the worst of his career since his days in Pittsburgh.













Over the past calendar year, he’s hitting .266/.309/.422 with 15 home runs and a .285 BABIP in 138 games. That’s not far off from his rest-of-season PECOTA projection (above) at all. While I don’t believe Ramirez has forgotten how to hit—and even though he’s not slugging like he did in his prime, he certainly hasn’t forgotten how to hit for power—we might finally be witnessing the erosion of his AVG skills.

The Great Beyond

Ramirez is no spring chicken, but while he may be nearing the end of his career, that end doesn’t appear imminent. His health and power have returned after a bit of a rough time over the last two years and will be crucial to his productivity over the rest of his career.

His defense at third base hasn’t been an asset in many years, though he does have a strong arm and there is some value in just being able to simply stand out in the field by third base. With Ramirez set to hit the free-agent market this offseason, we’ll see just how much he’s valued as a third basemen—or if he makes the move to the American League, where he could be a designated hitter.

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The Orioles love bounce-back possibilities. Is that Ramirez as a DH, perhaps getting more rest?
In February there were multiple reports Ramirez planned to retire after the 2015 season. Has there been any follow-up to this?
Not that I have seen. I guess this slipped my mind