The consensus No. 2 pick before the season started, Hanley Ramirez has done little to justify his draft position.
Through 181 at-bats this season, Ramirez is flirting with the Mendoza Line (.210) and sports a Jason Bartlett-like OPS (.618). To make matters worse, Ramirez was removed from Sunday’s game after the first inning with lower back stiffness.
He recently missed a few games due to a foot injury, but his woes go far beyond this.
Ramirez’s BABIP is .238—more than 100 points lower than his career .340 clip. A closer look, however, suggests poor luck isn’t the only culprit of his lackluster production.
Ramirez’s ground-ball rate is 55.5 percent, ninth-highest in the majors and completely out of whack when compared to his career mark of 43.3 percent. Likewise, his fly-ball rate has suffered (30.1 percent vs. 37.4 percent career).
This explains the power outage: You can’t hit home runs without hitting fly balls, and only nine percent of his fly balls are leaving the yard (career 13.2 percent).
While the season line (four HRs, 17 RBI, .210 BA) could easily be mistaken for that of Yuniesky Betancourt, Ramirez’s May totals offer hope.
April: Nine runs, 0 HRs, nine RBI, three steals, .200 BA
May: 21 runs, four HRs, eight RBI, eight steals, .219 BA
If we take his April/May splits a step further, there’s even more reason to be encouraged:
April: 12.9 LD%, 60.0 GB%, 27.1 FB%, 0 HR/FB%, .059 ISO
May: 15.8 LD%, 51.3 GB%, 32.9 FB%, 16.0 HR/FB%, .137 ISO
Admittedly, his May totals are not spectacular, but they are a step in the right direction. If it’s any consolation, Ramirez’s bat has historically heated up in the summer months, and that includes hitting more home runs and less ground balls.
Career GB Rate and AB/HR by Month:
March/April: 51.9 GB percent, 29.7 AB/HR
May: 46.2 GB percent, 30.9 AB/HR
June: 44.8 GB percent, 22.1 AB/HR
July: 44.2 GB percent, 22.8 AB/HR
August: 39.9 GB percent, 25.4 AB/HR
September/October: 37.9 GB percent, 19.6 AB/HR
While Ramirez has never endured a two month slump quite like the one he’s stuck in right now, there are a few reasons to believe he can salvage his 2011 campaign. On pace for 89 runs, 12 HRs, 51 RBI and 33 steals, one good month, a level stroke and a normalized BABIP could put the 27-year-old back on track for a 20-HR, 30-steal, .275 season.
Assuming his back injury isn’t an issue moving forward, Ramirez’s value won’t get much lower anytime soon. Seek out his frustrated owner and swing a deal at a discounted price.
If you own the Marlins shortstop, hold your ground. No manager is likely to pay for his true worth based on his production through the first two months.
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