Bounce-back Candidate: Aramis Ramirez
Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
If Aramis Ramirez stays healthy, he’s going to hit. Regardless of his age, the guy can still rake and his lack of production last season was because of injuries – not the fact that he’s 35 years old.
He missed 90 games in 2013 with ongoing knee problems but, in the games he did play, he posted a .283 with 12 home runs and 49 RBI – down from .300 with 27 home runs and 105 RBI in 2012. Since 2002, Ramirez has hit 20+ home runs in every season but two – 2009 and 2013, and in both years he played less than 100 games. In 2013, Ramirez saw his walk percentage increase by over three percent and his BABIP stayed virtually the same. However, his isolated power drastically declined from to .240 to .178. But again, that can be attributed to his lack of playing time.
Aside from the injury bug, there’s no reason to believe Ramirez won’t produce next season. He’ll have Ryan Braun hitting in front of him which will create more RBI opportunities. Additionally, if Corey Hart re-signs (which seems 50-50 at this point), he will provide great protection behind Ramirez.
If there is a spike in Ramirez’s stats in 2014, it will not only help the Milwaukee Brewers win games, but it’ll improve their chances of trading him before the deadline. The Brewers would be glad to rid themselves of at least some of the $14 million they owe him and additionally, he’s in the last year of his contract with a mutual option in 2015.
On the defensive side, there’s no one really pushing Ramirez for time at third base. It’ll be interesting to see what the Brewers do with Juan Francisco though. He will remain at first base if the Hart signing doesn’t happen but if it does, will Francisco share time with Hart or will he cut into Ramirez’s at-bats?
Ramirez isn’t the MVP-candidate he once was (although he did finish ninth in voting in 2012) but he is still an effective player and signing him was a good move for Milwaukee. If he can remain healthy for a minimum of 120 games in 2014, he should put up numbers similar to 2012.