For whatever reason, some people are under the impression that Aramis Ramirez is going to regress this season, but I don’t buy it. Ramirez hasn’t really had a bad season unless you’re counting 2002 and 2009. In both 2011 and 2012, he played in 149 games, which for someone who going on 35 in June, is rather impressive.
So why do people think he’s falling apart?
Last year, A-Ram hit for a solid .300/.360/.540 slash line with 27 home runs, 105 RBIs and scored 92 runs while even stealing nine bases. You put that together with his 2011, Ramirez seems to be getting better as he ages, much like wine as the popular saying goes. He’s got a heck of a lot of power, his ISO (isolated power) of .240 in 2012 will tell you that and the fact that his BABIP rose from .308 to .310 shows that he’s not slowing down.
While Ramirez did strike out more in 2012 (13%) as compared to 2011 (11%), it overall didn’t affect his performance. If anything, he saw a slight, and by slight I mean 0.1%, change in his walks, so his patience at the plate really didn’t factor into his production in any way, shape or form.
Projectionist Bill James says that in 2013, Ramirez will hit for a .275/.335/.475 slash line with 21 home runs and only 77 RBIs. That’s quite the change for someone who has consistently been able to hit not only 25 or more home runs in the past three seasons, but also drive in 80 or more runs.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Ramirez is going to go above and beyond and continue to hit a .300 average every season, players just aren’t built for that. Age isn’t a kind thing to baseball players, especially third basemen like Ramirez, but he seems able enough to play. What Ramirez did well is something that really went unnoticed and that was ability to back-up Ryan Braun in the line-up. Ever since Prince Fielder left, nobody seemed to fit the bill to be Braun’s complement in the line-up, but A-Ram went out and proved himself.
He’s a notorious slow starter yes, but despite that, he made a niche in the clean-up role. The ability to tinker with the Milwaukee line-up in general makes nearly every hitter a threat, Ramirez included. Now in 2013, we’ll see on whether or not that’s a role he can retain.
Obviously Ramirez isn’t going to last forever, he’ll eventually regress, but not now. 2013 just doesn’t seem like the year that we’ll start talking about how the Brewers need a new third baseman due to our declining talent. That just won’t be the case, Ramirez is going to still be a stabilizing force for the Brew Crew.
So to answer the question, Brewer fans can expect the same production out of Ramirez in 2013. He has a veteran approach that hasn’t lost its touch quite yet and by the end of his contract, Milwaukee will have been more than satisfied with the righty.
My 2013 projection for Ramirez: .290/.342/.485, 25 home runs, 94 RBIs, 75 runs scored.
Stats courtesy of FanGraphs.