There’s nothing terribly sexy about Alexei Ramirez as a fantasy baseball player, despite his 2014 line. He batted .273 with 15 home runs and 21 stolen bases this past season, but we know that power isn’t a big part of his game anymore. This year’s homer total clearly pushed some of that volume in RBIs and runs scored.
Come to think of it, there’s nothing terribly sexy about Ramirez, period. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds (incidentally, also my dimensions). Look at him. He’s a stick. Granted, some people find men like him extremely attractive. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’m confident that folks in that demographic don’t make up the majority. He doesn’t exactly fit the image of the prevailing notion of a hot slab of man beef.
As far as Ramirez’s power goes, yes, he’s done this before, but that was a few years ago. His average round-tripper’s distance in 2014 was easily the lowest he’s posted as a major leaguer, and he pulled all his “bombs” to left field. His projection for next season should barely have him in double digits, as Steamer does, and that makes a difference in the projections for the high-volume categories.
Ramirez is 33. His best years are behind him. Yes, he plays half of his games in one of the best ballparks for home runs, particularly to left field. The fluky homer total isn’t enough to diminish the impact of the combination of the way power ages and the aggregate 15 jacks he posted in the previous two seasons. Speed doesn’t age well, so a projection of 20 thefts isn’t safe.
I suppose we could search for some good news. Ramirez’s plate discipline has remained pretty sharp. There are some signs of decline, but they reinforce the gradual slippage we should expect, unlike some of the great counting stats he produced this year. There’s nothing bad about his spray charts or heatmaps. He’s not a bad player, really.
Ramirez’s year was good, no question. If you retained, drafted, or bought him this past March, then you were really happy because of that choice. Coming off two consecutive years of quality production, he might not be much of a bargain next year. He could even be overpriced. We know all these things about his underlying performance, though. Won’t everyone know them? Besides, the Chicago White Sox’s shortstop was good in part because of the context of the position. We might be used to that sort of disappointment by now. But some of the shortstops who let fantasy owners down could easily be better next year.
Who are the sexier shorties? Troy Tulowitzki is way hotter. Jose Reyes, a bastion of health, already beat Ramirez this year, as you can see in Zach Sanders’ end-of-season rankings. Hanley Ramirez received the better genes in the Ramirez family and will be more expensive. Alcides Escobar and Elvis Andrus are several years younger. Jimmy Rollins, 36 next season, could have convinced some that he’s back among the better choices at the position. Heck, the youthful Jean Segura and Xander Bogaerts may even be in for rebounds. Some players who’ll be eligible at 6, like Danny Santana, will surely be more appealing.
Ramirez just isn’t sexy. I’m glad we agree on that. He’s not a power hitter. He’s on a bad team. He’s old. There’s nothing terribly exciting about his skill set.
Ramirez has been reliable, I guess. He played in 148 games for six straight seasons, including 156 in 2010 and 158 in each of the past four. I guess that’s something. How many shortstops can you say, confidently, will likely do that next year?
And so, we may have enough to set the stage. As a player who has avoided serious injury, Ramirez has advertised relative reliability as is his greatest “skill.” There’s something to be said for that, at least at shortstop. It’ll be an interesting position to handicap for 2015. Will fantasy owners finally be willing to discount some of the high-risk performers at the position? Recent history suggests that they still won’t be, not by much.
Ramirez, of course, isn’t without fantasy merit, even if he was better than expected in 2014. His Steamer projection could add several games. His batting average is at risk, but only marginally; I’d give him a few more points there, too. I’d probably end up with about a .270 average, 10 homers, and 18 stolen bases, maybe 70 runs and 60 RBIs. It’s not sexy, but it gets the job done. He could be just unsexy enough to slip past overly ambitious fantasy owners again next season … assuming that they see how unsexy he is.
Nicholas Minnix oversaw baseball content for six years at KFFL, where he held the loose title of Managing Editor for seven and a half before he joined FanGraphs. He played in both Tout Wars and LABR from 2010 through 2014. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasMinnix.