by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
With Matt Duffy lost for the season there is playing time available at SS in Tampa Bay. They clearly aren’t turning to Tim Beckham or Tyler Motter, as evidenced by their lack of a callup and the signing of Alexei Ramirez off the scrap heap. Could Ramirez provide value? Is there another under-the-radar option we should be eyeing? Let’s take a look:
Since we already mentioned him, let’s get this out of the way. It’s hard to imagine Ramirez even getting much playing time, let alone making an impact. He is likely nothing more than a safety net, considering he had lost his job in San Diego after hitting .240 with 5 HR and 6 SB over 444 PA. Needless to say, he’s irrelevant.
He’s seen time all around the diamond, including starting at first base yesterday (though he was forced to shift to shortstop), and figures to get an extended look over the final few weeks. He’s always brought intriguing power/speed potential, since hitting 23 HR with 25 SB at Single-A back in 2010. This season he’s shown flashes of the same potential, with 6 HR and 6 SB in the Majors over 146 PA.
Of course there are questions, but with 8 doubles and 1 triple it would appear that the power is for real. The issue lies in his batting average, despite it currently sitting at .290. First the underlying numbers:
- Line Drive Rate – 16.5%
- BABIP – .352
Right off the bat there are concerns. He’s also had contact issues, with an 11.0% SwStr% (12.1% for his career) and 28.6% career strikeout rate. Those are numbers he’s going to need to improve, though there’s also reason to believe that he can improve his line drive rate (21.7% for his career).
At the very least he’s an intriguing player, if he can maintain his average. Over the final few weeks he’s well worth the gamble to see what he can do.
Considering the power he’s shown this season (26 HR in 469 PA), he should already be owned. Even then, it’s fair to wonder how real the number is (21.0% HR/FB).
He too has concerns about his average, given his 11.9% SwStr% and 24.5% strikeout rate. As it is he’s only hitting .254 this season, so if the power fades his average could really sink.
He’s become an important part of the middle of the Rays’ lineup, hitting in the cleanup spot, and there is no reason to think that he is suddenly going to lose AB (though he was forced from yesterday’s game after being hit by a pitch). He’s not a great option and there is a risk of regression, but he’s worth utilizing down the stretch.
Source – Fangraphs