At age 34, you aren’t exactly expected to go through a renaissance period in your baseball career. Just don’t tell Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez that.
While his numbers have certainly never dropped off, Ramirez is living out one of his most productive of the 15 Major League seasons under his belt. While there is a lot of talk centered around the man bats in front of him, Ramy is more than deserving of a great deal of the motivation behind the Crew’s remarkable run for the second Wild Card spot.
For his decade-and-a-half in the Big Leagues, Aramis Ramirez lines read .285/.343/.502. This year, he has a slash line of .297/.362/.534, with an .896 OPS to boot. He has blasted 25 home runs, and knocked out 46 doubles – for a time chasing Lyle Overbay‘s record of 53 in a single season in 2004. I guess he’ll have to settle for chasing down Jeff Cirillo and Robin Yount for the number two spot in Brewers history.
In terms of power hitting, Aramis has more than lived up to the billing of ‘replacing Prince Fielder‘ – a title that never should have entered the conversation to begin with. He is currently tied with – who else? – Ryan Braun for the most extra-base hits in the National League, which is good enough for third in all of baseball. He is currently turning 47% of his hits into extra bases – the best ratio of his career.
But extra bases isn’t the only place where he’s exceeding. In terms of the overall value he brings to his club, Aramis Ramirez is performing above his own stellar levels on both sides of the ball. Ramirez currently has a WAR of 4.8, second only to his 2007 campaign when he received some of the most MVP attention in his career. His offensive WAR in 2012 is second only to his 2004 season, at 4.4 wins above the average replacement player. If you prefer FanGraph’s calculation over Baseball-Reference’s (which is used for this article), Ramy is outperforming his previous numbers without question.
But his value to the club doesn’t just come from his bat – his glove is showing some surprising value as
well. His Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) is 11.0 – essentially expressed as the number of runs saved (or lost, in the case of a negative) by each of his chances turned into outs. It is one of the highest numbers of his career. In a more traditional aspect, his .975 fielding percentage is the highest he’s ever had.
Obviously, Ryan Braun is putting up numbers well beyond what Ramirez is producing in 2012. But that shouldn’t take away from the performance that Aramis has put in for this team. Despite Ramirez’s slow start in April and May, the pair’s numbers have climbed in sync with each other for nearly every month of the season – a dangerous combination for the three and four spots in the lineup. We can, to some degree safely assume that RBI means ‘Running Braun In’ for a substantial portion of Ramy’s RBI. This is a relationship that has been built over the season that provides both players with security in the lineup and opportunities for production.
If you want to speak in terms of value, there is an argument to be made outside of the numbers that Ramirez’s performance and position in the line-up make him more valuable to the Brewers than even Braun. It’s a stretch, perhaps, but not by much if you consider Ramirez’s position behind Braun in terms of what it means to Braun’s opportunities to produce.
Aramis Ramirez has always been a great player – he just needed to come to Milwaukee to be his best. And this year, his best means the continued success of the Milwaukee Brewers.