With Aramis Ramirez signing with the Milwaukee Brewers we can now try to pinpoint exactly where he fits in the third base landscape. He is coming off a renaissance season for the Chicago Cubs, having hit .306 with 26 HR and 93 RBI. However, is it enough to put him back among the elite third baseman in the league? Is he a better option than someone like the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval? It’s an interesting comparison, so let’s take a look at who you should be focusing on during your draft.
Ramirez – Outside of a poor 2010 (.241), Ramirez has hit .289 or better every year since 2004. He does a very good job of making consistent contact (13.8% career strikeout rate) and as long as he doesn’t get fly ball happy (which was why happened in ’10), there is no reason to think he won’t hit at least .290 once again. However, his upside is probably in the .305-.310 range and nothing more.
Sandoval – Sandoval has proven that, when he is right, he has the potential to challenge for a National League Batting title. We all know about the weight issues that were there in 2010, which led to a .268 average. However, it was sandwiched between years of .330 and .315, which is higher than the upside Ramirez possesses. He has proven capable of maintaining a BABIP upwards of .350 (.356 in 145 AB in ’08 and .350 in ’09), which goes a long way in him hitting for a tremendous average. He also has a career strikeout rate of 12.9%, meaning he consistently puts the ball in play.
Verdict – Sandoval’s upside is greater than Ramirez’, giving him the edge
Ramirez – Once upon a time Ramirez was a vaunted power hitter, with the potential to hit 30+ home runs a season. However, the last time he accomplished that feat was in 2006. Since then he has topped out at 27 HR, as he has suffered from some shoulder injuries. At this point in his career does anyone want to go into the season expecting anything more than that in Milwaukee? There’s nothing wrong with 25-28 HR, it’s just that is all we should be expecting given his recent track record and potential health concerns.
Sandoval – He has shown that he is a 23-27 HR hitter himself, and there is no reason to think that he is going to be anything different in 2012. With a 37.1% career fly ball rate, it’s simply the type of player that he is. That said, he did hit 23 HR in 426 AB in 2011 so seeing him hit near 30 is possible, though not something we should expect.
Verdict – Push, as both will likely be in the mid-to-high 20s with a similar upside potential
Ramirez – He will be viewed as the replacement for Prince Fielder, meaning he is going to be hitting behind Ryan Braun and the top of the Brewers order (assuming Braun can avoid a 50 game suspension). That is an enviable spot to be hitting in and should result in ample RBI opportunities. Will he be able to post his seventh 100+ RBI campaign? It’s not out of the question, though Braun’s potential suspension could cost him that. I’d go in figuring around 90, with anything extra being gravy.
Sandoval – The Giants offense is not impressive, but there is potential there with Angel Pagan now in town and a returning Buster Posey back helping Sandoval in the middle of the order. He had 70 RBI in just 426 AB in ’11 and there should be no reason that he can’t approach 90 hitting in the third spot of the Giants order.
Verdict – Ramirez probably has a little bit more upside, though it wouldn’t be surprising if this was a virtual push
Ramirez – He has scored over 90 runs before, but those days are also likely behind him. He scored 80 runs last season and, while he should have a decent supporting cast behind him, with his lack of speed and potential to hit around .290 that’s probably a more realistic number.
Sandoval – Thanks to an anemic Giants offense Sandoval has never scored more than 79 runs in a season. His potential to get on base helps his cause dramatically, but it’s just impossible to think that he is going to surpass 80 runs scored this season. More likely, he will be right around the 70-75 range.
Verdict – Ramirez has a slight edge, thanks to the better supporting cast around him
Ramirez – Since 2002 he has stolen two bases or less every season. Is there really anything to discuss here?
Sandoval – Like Ramirez, there is little upside here. Yes he did steal five bases in 2009, but does anyone really expect a repeat of that performance?
Verdict – Neither of them have speed, so this is a complete push
The fact is that Ramirez is no longer the player that he once was. Could he have slightly more upside in the power and run department? It’s minimal if it’s there, and it is not enough to offset the potential .030 average advantage that Sandoval could have. The fact is that the two will likely be close across the board, outside of maybe average (with the younger Sandoval providing more upside for growth), making Sandoval the player I would rather own for 2012.
What about you? Which of the two players would you rather own? Why?
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Make sure to check out our other Draft Day Decision articles:
- Miguel Montero vs. Alex Avila
- Justin Upton vs. Carlos Gonzalez
- Josh Hamilton vs. Andrew McCutchen
- Andre Ethier vs. Jason Heyward