It was an eye-opening 2010 campaign for Alexei Ramirez.
Ramirez's .282 average, 18 home runs, 29 doubles and 70 RBI earned him his first Silver Slugger Award, and let's not get started on the fact he should have won a Gold Glove at shortstop.
Granted, shortstop was a pretty weak position in the American League, but Ramirez led the league in average, home runs, slugging percentage and OPS among shortstops. Ramirez was rewarded with a contract extension for four years worth $32.5 million.
Okay, pessimistic White Sox fans, I know you're waiting for the "but."
Ramirez is still an X-factor for the White Sox this season because he is unpredictable. How will he react to getting paid? He is 29 years old in Cuban years, which could make him 40, and he still has that .205 batting average in April, which never helps.
Can Ramirez end the first-month drought and pull a Robinson Cano, proving he is a full-year player, or will people once again use the cold weather as an excuse for him not being able to hit?
Ramirez did have a career-high in strikeouts last season, but then again he had 43 more at-bats than he's ever had in his three-year career. It looks like Ramirez will be batting in the eighth spot in the lineup, where he sports a slightly better slugging percentage and OPS than the second spot in the order.
Ramirez had gone his first two spring trainings homerless, but already has seven extra-base hits, including three home runs, beating Gordon Beckham by five total bases for the most on the team so far in this spring training. But once again, that is in the nice warm weather of Arizona.
Have you been outside in Chicago today?
Essentially, Ramirez's numbers matched his career averages last season, but with an extension, the White Sox are hoping for more.
People whisper that he can be a 25-30 home run guy or he can bat .310. It would seem Ramirez has found a middle ground, but doing both wouldn't hurt.
Ramirez's glove, however, pays for itself.
Then again, that's easy to say now. If he's batting near the Mendoza line come May, people will be singing a different tune.
Ramirez could easily be an All-Star this season, even though geniuses have already voted Derek Jeter in, but for now, until we're given more proof, he remains an X-factor that can go either way.