Let me get this out of the way right at the off. I’m a big fan of Aramis Ramirez. I have always been a big fan of Aramis Ramirez and I will always be a big fan of Aramis Ramirez.
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Ramirez just completed his third season with the Milwaukee Brewers and the 17th season of his long career. He’s got a mutual option with the Brewers for 2015 at $14 million, but we’ll look at that tomorrow.
2014 Contract: $16,000,000
2015 Contract: $14,000,000 mutual option, $4,000,000 buyout if Brewers decline
Ramirez came into the 2014 season as the Brewers highest paid player and defacto third baseman. Ramirez had a solid, if unspectacular season for the Brewers.
His 109 OPS+ and wRC+ are the second lowest he’s recorded since 2003 when he was traded from the Pirates to the Cubs in mid-season. In fact, other than his out-of-character 2010 season, his lowest OPS+ over that span was his 126 in 2006, and his lowest wRC+ was his 125, also in 2006.
At 36-years-old, Ramirez has defied what a normal baseball aging curve should look like, in fact, he’s gotten even better with his bat in the later years of his career. This year it looked like age finally started to catch up with Rammy.
Lets take a look at a couple of graphs to illustrate that point:
Aramis Ramirez wOBA, courtesy of FanGraphs
Once Ramirez is finished struggling through his first years in the big leagues, he turned into a very productive hitter for a very long time. But we can see from his wOBA over time that agent is starting to catch up with him. It is entirely possible that Ramirez ’14 season was an aberration, but given his age and the fact that he’d fought it off for so long, I don’t think that is the case.
But, lets look into luck and see if it was possible Ramirez was just unlucky in 2014.
Aramis Ramirez BABIP, courtesy of FanGraphs
In his final year in Chicago and his first three in Milwaukee, Ramirez has had the first stable BABIP of his career. given that trend line it doesn’t look, at least at first glance like it was unlucky. No, the real problem was that Aramis Ramirez, doubles machine and 20-plus home run hitter, lost his power.
Aramis Ramirez ISO, courtesy of FanGraphs
Ramirez has been a well above-average power hitter for the overwhelming majority of his career, but you can see that number start to fall in his injury shortened 2013 and drop dramatically in his 2014. It could be that his knees are finally catching up with him, it could be an aberration, but again giving his age I just don’t see it.
Now we’ll look at Rammy month-by-month.
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Ramirez started the season with an above-average April, which for him is already an accomplishment. He was out for most of May and came back with a vengeance in June. He struggled his way through July before tearing it up in August and disappearing in September.
A cynic would say that all that time off in May helped Ramirez slug his way through June, but he didn’t see any of that benefit from the All-Star break in mid-July, and he didn’t have any real time off for August when he slugged again.
So, with that confluence of events and the fact that Ramirez was 7th among National League third basemen on the season, I gave him a C for this year. Not exactly what you want from your team’s highest paid player, but it still doesn’t actually hurt you on the field.
Tomorrow I’ll look at Aramis Ramirez option and contract status going forward.