Can Alexei Ramirez Be An Elite SS? It’s Possible…

Since signing with the White Sox out of Cuba, Alexei Ramirez has been a player on the radar of fantasy owners.  His rookie campaign started off slowly, but by year’s end he was thought of as a potential stud. How could a 20/20 threat out of a middle infield position not be?.  Unfortunately, he took a small step back across the board in 2009, posting the following line:

542 At Bats
.277 Batting Average (150 Hits)
15 Home Runs
68 RBI
71 Runs
14 Stolen Bases
.333 On Base Percentage
.389 Slugging Percentage
.288 Batting Average on Balls in Play

It was not just the home runs that stepped back from ’08 to ’09, it was his extra base power in general.  In 2008 he had 45 extra base hits (22 doubles, 3 triples, 21 home runs) in just 480 at bats.  That fell to just 30 last season (14 doubles, 1 triple, 15 home runs).

The easy explanation for the home run decline was his decrease in HR/FB rate:

  • 2008 – 13.8%
  • 2009 – 8.2%

Which is the real Alexei Ramirez?  We just don’t have enough of a track record to know for sure.  Having never played in the Minor Leagues, the past two years are the only knowledge we really have (you can’t really correlate any success in the Cuban Leagues to the Major Leagues).  Chances are he comes in somewhere in the middle, but that’s a total crapshoot.

In fact, he needs to have a rebound in the power department to be a true, above average starting shortstop in shallower formats.  While he has decent speed (he showed improvement, reducing his caught stealing from nine in ’08 to five last season), he’s not going to match the totals lofty stolen base totals of guys like Elvis Andrus (click here for more on him), Everth Cabrera (click here for more on him) or Alcides Escobar (click here for more on him).  To over come their speed, he must hit more than 15 HR.

The average is something that is slightly surprising.  He vastly improved his patience at the plate in ’09, which you would think would help:

  • 2008 – 3.5%
  • 2009 – 8.1%

He also does a decent job of putting the ball on the ground in an attempt to use his speed to get on base, with a career groundball rate of 46.4%.  However, despite these things working in his favor (as well as not striking out much, with a career rate of 12.4%), he just doesn’t have much luck.  Over the past two seasons he’s posted BABIPs of .294 and .288.  With his strikeout level, marks like that leave him usable in the average department, but he has the potential to be significantly above average.

All he needs is to find a few holes.  All he needs to do is get a little lucky.  If his BABIP was at .315 last season, his average rises to .295.  If it went to .336, his average jumps all the way to .314.  Granted, a jump to .336 is significant, but it is not impossible.  That type of number would have still left him outside the Top 35 in ’09.  With his speed and ability to put the ball in play, it’s not impossible.

Of course, this doesn’t even take into account that if he hits more home runs, his average will increase without any extra luck (a home run is not a ball put into play).

Let’s take a look at my projection for him in 2010:

.280 (143-510), 18 HR, 75 RBI, 75 R, 20 SB, .293 BABIP, .328 OBP, .437 SLG

Given his two-year track record, I will admit to playing it a little safe with this projection.  Honestly, I believe this is more his floor than anything else (outside of the stolen bases), as he has a significantly higher ceiling.  As we discussed, hitting .300 is extremely possible.  He’s already shown the ability to hit over 20 HR.  He certainly has the speed to reach 20 SB.

The moral of the story?  If you can get him at a bargain price, don’t hesitate.  I know he disappointed in 2009, but we all know about sophomore slumps.  I have him as my sixth ranked shortstop (click here to view) and certainly won’t shy away if he slips from his current ADP of around 108.

What about you?  Is Ramirez someone you think will bounce back in 2010?  What type of production are you expecting?

If you would like to see a free preview of the Rotoprofessor 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide (available for just $5) now including a Top 50 Prospects for 2010 List, click here.

Make sure to check out some of our 2010 projections, including:

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

Spring Storylines: March 7 (Bonderman, Buchholz & More)
Spring Storylines: March 6 (Davis, Wood & More)

6 comments

  1. I like him more if he were hitting in the two-hole wedged between Pierre and Quentin.

  2. chris says:

    Yeah i agree with the statement above…he wont touch those numbers if he ends up batting 8 or 9 like Ozzie has stated.

  3. Sawyer says:

    I think he can end up batting near the top of the lineup, but he’ll have to force Guillen’s hand with a hot start. Thanks for the article, I appreciate the analysis.

  4. Pat says:

    What do you think of this team in a 10 team head to head league? After my 12th pick I simply turned on autodraft but was reasonable happy with the results. I was selecting 5th overall, so 5th, 16th, 25th, etc…

    1. Chase Utley (Phi – 2B)
    2. David Wright (NYM – 3B)
    3. Matt Holliday (StL – OF)
    4. Joey Votto (Cin – 1B)
    5. José Reyes (NYM – SS)
    6. Johan Santana (NYM – SP)
    7. Josh Johnson (Fla – SP)
    8. Carlos Lee (Hou – OF)
    9. Bobby Abreu (LAA – OF)
    10. Shane Victorino (Phi – OF)
    11. James Shields (TB – SP)
    12. Brett Anderson (Oak – SP)
    13. Miguel Montero (Ari – C)
    14. Rick Porcello (Det – SP)
    15. Jorge De La Rosa (Col – SP)
    16. Kevin Slowey (Min – SP)
    17. Erik Bedard (Sea – SP)
    18. Joel Piñeiro (LAA – SP)
    19. Jason Marquis (Was – SP)
    20. Brad Hawpe (Col – OF)
    21. Leo Núñez (Fla – RP)
    22. Alfredo Aceves (NYY – RP)
    23. Vernon Wells (Tor – OF)

  5. Chad says:

    Hoping he bounces back since I ended up with him as my starter in a 12 team mixed league after having a few other guys scooped a couple of picks ahead of me.

  6. Morat says:

    Ozzie hates the dude. Complained of his “body language” last year. Benched the dude, hit him 7-9. This affected the kid worse. No way do I see him hitting higher this year. I agree with Chris. No way does he reach those projections batting that low in the lineup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>