Aramis Ramirez has averaged 28 HR, 96 RBI and a .295 batting clip a year since 2004, despite missing 118 games over the last two seasons.
His torrid 2010 second half (15 HR, 51 RBI in 62 games) led many (myself included) to believe Ramirez would return to his former 25-HR, 100-RBI days this season, but he has yet to produce as such.
The soon-to-be 33-year-old third basemen whacked just his second dinger of the season on Sunday and sported a .280 batting clip in 175 at-bats entering the game.
The questions rises, then: Is Aramis Ramirez a good buy-low candidate?
When looking at Ramirez’s 2011 splits, two things stand out.
First, his splits against left-handed pitching.
During his 14-year career, Ramirez has hit .286/.350/.528 against southpaws with a home run every 16.9 at-bats, opposed to .281/.337/.485 with a long ball every 21.5 at-bats against right-handers.
This season, Ramirez is 10-for-39 (.256) with nine singles and one double against lefties. This is especially confusing, given his 27.3 line-drive rate against opposite-handed pitchers, though 39 at-bats is an extremely small sample size. These splits should even out given 125 at-bats.
The second stat that stands out is one that I’ve already touched on: His alarmingly low power output.
Through 193 plate appearances entering Sunday’s game, Ramirez’s ISO power was just .086, a far cry from his career mark of .213. Likewise, his HR/FB rate was 1.5 (career 13.1 percent), a mark lower than that of Michael Bourn, Chone Figgins and teammate Darwin Barney.
These numbers will rise after his blast on Sunday, but remain very disturbing.
Despite this, Ramirez has maintained a solid batting average (.280 this season, .282 career) and is making contact at an 85 percent rate (career 81.0). His walk rate (7.3 percent) is in line with his career mark of 7.2, and he’s actually whiffing on strike three just 12.6 percent of the time (career 15.4).
Ramirez’s batted ball totals are in sync with his career averages too, as he’s managed to minimize the major league-high fly-ball rate that plagued him last season.
These signs all point to a mid-season turnaround.
If history is any indicator, now is the perfect time to buy-low on Ramirez.
April and May have previously been his worst months, though he tends to heat up in June before reaching scorching-hot status by July:
Career Splits by Month:
- April: .261/.333/.460, 23.5 AB/HR
- May: .269/.327/.442, 26.5 AB/HR
- June: .302/.357/.496, 22.8 AB/HR
- July: .285/.329/.539, 16.5 AB/HR
- August: .298/.360/.535, 18.2 AB/HR
- September: .278/.336/.491, 18.5 AB/HR
Given the injuries to David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, Pablo Sandoval and Pedro Alvarez, third base is even thinner than it was before.
This may make it more difficult to pry Ramirez from his likely frustrated owner, but he’s worth trading for assuming a relatively low asking price.
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