We’ve been waiting… And waiting… And waiting for the Indians’ Jose Ramirez to wake up and start producing as had been expected entering the season. Yet he just continues to struggle, hitting .197 with 4 HR, 15 RBI, 17 R and 12 SB over his first 52 games. Sure the stolen bases have helped to save some value, but let’s not forget that there were concerns heading into the season.
Ramirez slumped badly in the second half of last season, raising some red flags. Obviously we didn’t expect it to be this bad, but we did have this to say as part of our 2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide:
No one is going to argue against him, though there are a few warning signs that can’t go overlooked. He clearly took a more home run-centric approach, seeing his fly ball rate rise (39.7% to 45.9%) and also becoming even more pull happy (his Pull% went from 46.3% to 50.0%). That helps to explain his .252 BABIP, and while he does bring an incredibly strong approach (4.7% SwStr%, 22.3% O-Swing%) there may not be enough upside. Let’s not ignore how dramatic of a falloff there was in the second half, when he hit .218 with 10 HR (.302 with 29 HR in the first half) as his Hard% plummeted (28.5%). Considering his career 30.1% Hard%, can we call it that unbelievable? We don’t expect him to be as bad as he was after the All-Star Break, but it’s fair to wonder if he’s going to be among the most overvalued players in the game.
So there were concerns in regards to several underlying statistics, so it makes sense to start there:
- Fly Ball Rate – He continues to take a far more fly ball heavy approach, even more so than last season, at 47.8 %
- Pull% – He’s done a better job using the entire field, with his Pull% dropping to 40.5% and his Oppo% rising to 27.2% (compared to a 23.9% career mark)
- Hard% – Ramirez is currently carrying a career best 37.3% Hard%
You can argue that the approach has taken a step backwards, though are there any red flags with a 6.7% SwStr% and 27.9% O-Swing%? Outside of his fly ball rate, he’s shown improvement in his use of the entire field and ability to hit the ball hard. The fly ball heavy number is going to drag down his BABIP, but a .221 mark? That doesn’t jive, nor does his dramatic power regression (HR/FB):
- 2017 – 14.1%
- 2018 – 16.9%
- 2019 – 5.3%
In other words there should be significantly better days ahead. Maybe he doesn’t match the elite level production that may have been expected, but he’s going to be better than this. There’s a buying opportunity, depending on how frustrated an owner has become, and it’s one we’d want to take advantage of.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs