It’s been quite a while since Ramirez was the best prospect in the Boston Red Sox farm system, only to be traded after just two September plate appearances and go on to win the 2006 National League Rookie of the Year Award. Boston went on to win the World Series the following in 2007, while Ramirez began a three-year stretch of outstanding offensive performance. He led all of baseball with 225.9 VORP from ’07-’09, but never received even one first place vote for the most valuable player award—the closest he came was a second place finish to unanimous winner Albert Pujols in ’09—likely due to his porous defense at shortstop.
What Went Right in 2014
Ramirez went on the disabled list just once, for an abdominal strain toward the end of the season. He played in 128 games and produced a .283/.369/.448 batting line. His Instagram account was also very entertaining.
What Went Wrong in 2014
While Ramirez only went on the disabled list once, he still battled a variety of injuries as the season went along as he’s no stranger to getting hurt. The list reads: arm, hand, face, thumb, lower leg, shoulder, and elbow. Chief among them was the shoulder inflammation that caused him to miss a few games at the end of June. Ramirez’ shoulder seemed to continue to bother him while negatively impacting his hitting, as his OPS fell off from .836 in the first half to .781 in the second half. It could’ve been worse if not for his .363 BABIP in the second half; he wasn’t able to hit for power like he did in the first half (ISO down from .192 to .114 and 13 percent HR:FB rate down to four) and began striking out more often (Krate up to 18 percent from 15).
The second half power outage led Ramirez to the second lowest home run total of his career with 13 and he only played 92 games when he hit just 10 home runs in 2011. Even his first half numbers before the shoulder started bothering him failed to live up to the dominance he displayed in 2013 (.345/.402/.638).
What to Expect in 2015
It would be foolish to expect Ramirez to produce another season like his otherworldly 2013. PECOTA sees him reaching 580 plate appearances, which would be his highest total since 2012, and the power returning (18 home runs) while his OPS regresses slightly. The move to Boston’s stacked lineup and all the hitter friendly ballparks in the AL East should give his numbers a nice little boost and perhaps his shoulder has recovered to the point where he can regain some power and reach 20 home runs playing at Fenway.
Even if Ramirez comes through on some of those unknowns, it would be unwise to consider him an “elite” or $30 player in fantasy. He earned $18 in standard 12-team mixed leagues last year and $21 in NL-Only, where his average price of $32 across expert leagues CBS, LABR, and Tout (as prepared by Mike Gianella) made him one of the biggest losers at the position. The lesson here is simply not to chase Ramirez like he’s going to approximate his 2013 production and treat him like a good, albeit injury-prone, hitter whose power faded in the second half last year and is on the wrong side of 30.
His NFBC ADP is currently 24th overall, which is just too high for me. There are players I feel more comfortable with this season going around that time such as Ian Desmond, Robinson Cano, Josh Donaldson, and a host of others. The next highest shortstop by NFBC ADP is Jose Reyes and he’s going nearly 25 picks later. Owners taking Ramirez that high are either chasing after his past production or overreacting to the positional scarcity at shortstop. Getting good production from shortstop is going to be an advantage this year, but that’s not something that needs to be addressed in the first few rounds. It’s important not to weigh the most recent season too heavily, but here Ramirez is being drafted almost as if last season didn’t happen.
The Great Beyond
Ramirez will finally get to play with the Red Sox again, though he’ll no longer be playing shortstop. The move to Boston, and subsequently to the outfield, throws a bit of a wrench in his value in keeper and dynasty formats. With Xander Bogaerts entrenched as the starter, Ramirez’ shortstop eligibility in fantasy is due to run out. Still, it’s not like he’s moving to first base or somehow joining David Ortiz in gloveless obscurity. He’ll play the outfield, which isn’t as physically demanding as playing shortstop, and that could possibly keep him healthier than he’s been in the past. While Ramirez’ health is likely to remain a cause for concern as he ages, he has enough power and speed to still be a productive player for the foreseeable future.
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