Alexei Ramirez‘s fantasy ranking has trended down each of the last two seasons. In his first three (2008-2010) he batted .290, .277, and .282. In the last two years he’s failed to bat better than .269.
Last year the free-swinging Ramirez took that approach to a whole new level, walking just 2.6% of the time and swinging at 41.5% of the pitches he saw outside the strike zone (for comparison he was around 35% in 2010 and 2011). His 12.4% strikeout rate was within his career norms, but because of lack of plate discipline he does a poor job of squaring up on the ball for solid contact. While his 19.8% line-drive rate in 2012 was a career-best, it was still below league average. And Ramirez’s 12.6% infield fly rate was worse than league average as well. For a player with as much speed as Ramirez, he shouldn’t struggle to have a .300 BABIP, but alas, he does.
But we’re OK sacrificing the great batting average for a chance at 30-35 homers and steals combined. It’s just that usually we expect Ramirez to do that with about 16 homers and 14 steals. Last year he was steal-heavy and light on the pop. While it didn’t change his overall value much (he ranked 155th in 2012 versus 138 in 2011), it does change how he fits into your fantasy lineup a little bit.
At a Glance
Neutral: R, HR, RBI, SB, BA, SLG, OPS
Weaknesses: BB, OBP
Best-case scenario: Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE)
Likely scenario: Danny Espinosa (WAS), Zack Cozart (CIN), Rafael Furcal (STL)
Worst-case scenario: Mike Aviles (CLE)
Alexei Ramirez 2013 Fantasy Projection
We project Ramirez gets back to his more balanced homer/steal approach with 14 bombs and 13 thefts in 2013. What affects his value most, though, is where he bats in Chicago’s lineup. As recently as 2011, Ramirez used to be a fixture in the team’s top third of the order. That resulted in 684 plate appearances that year in 158 games. Last year he fell into the bottom third and mustered just 621 plate appearances in the same number of game. That’s a 9.2% drop, and that’s really going to hurt his counting stats.
We figure to see more of the same in 2013, and though Ramirez will score more than the paltry 59 runs he left us with last year, it’s going to take something special for him to put up a top-100 or -125 ranking like he did in 2010.
And like we said in the intro, Ramirez doesn’t walk. He’s to be downgraded significantly in OBP leagues.