Remember when Aramis Ramirez donned the despicable Chicago Cubs uniform? Remember how we (Brewers fans) let out an emphatic roar every time he met his doom? My, how things have changed. Now it’s the Cubs fans who view Ramirez as a traitor, the Darth Vader of their franchise.
If not for Ryan Braun, Ramirez might have been the Brewers MVP in 2012. The 34-year-old enjoyed a marvelous offensive season, his first in Milwaukee, and played exquisite defense which resulted in him being named a Gold Glove finalist. Ramirez is the definition of consistent. Take away his injury-plagued season in 2009 and his numbers look identical from year to year. When playing at least 100 games, Ramirez has only failed to hit 20 or more home runs in one season (2002). His RBI totals have hovered around 100 each year and has only reached triple-digit strikeouts once.
But at his age and with him dealing with a knee injury in spring training, can we really expect him to continue to produce at such a high level?
We can and we should.
Barring injury, there is no reason to think the right-handed power hitter will suffer a statistical drop off in 2013. Yes, he’s getting up there in age, especially for every day player, but his game isn’t built on speed or quickness and a player’s legs are usually the first thing to fail. Besides, Ramirez stole a career-high nine bases in 2013 – his legs are just fine.
Look at what Ramirez did in 2012 and consider the circumstances. He was coming to a new team in a different city and it didn’t help matters much when he got off to an abysmal start that led people to start questioning the Brewers decision to trade Casey McGehee (yes, I was one of them). And yet, he boasted huge numbers. He hit for a .300 batting and led the National League in extra-base hits. As a result, his isolated power (ISO), which determines how good a player is at hitting for extra bases, was .240, 11th best in the MLB. Not bad for his inaugural season with the Crew. This year, Ramirez is fully comfortable and is aware of what the Brewers are trying to do. The awkward first year syndrome is gone. He’s ready to build on last years MVP-type season (he finished 9th in MVP voting).
Fantasy baseball-wise, Ramirez should be a hot commodity come draft time. He was baseball’s fifth highest scoring third baseman in standard leagues in 2012 and, with third base being a shallow position, grabbing Ramirez in the middle rounds could prove to pay off big.
This season, I expect Aramis to be Aramis with just a little hint of better mixed in. His home run numbers should rise as he becomes more accustomed to how the ball flies in Miller Park. His doubles may dip in return, but I’m sure the Brewers would rather see a long ball than a double. Ramirez is getting older but his game has yet to be altered; 2013 will be no different. And for the second consecutive year, Cubs fans will wish he was still on the their side (or should I say the dark side).
Do you think age will affect Aramis Ramirez this season?