Aramis Ramirez and Father Time

Aramis Ramirez doesn’t age. At least, he didn’t show signs of being mortal until last season. While some numbers were down, Ramirez’s overall stat line wasn’t all that bad. He hit for a solid average, and still managed 15 home runs. In most fantasy leagues, that will play at third. For years now, analysts have predicted Ramirez’s collapse, causing his value to plummet in most leagues. And while playing next season at age-37 isn’t something to be ignored, it’s hard to argue with the track record.

While age is likely to most pressing issue Ramirez is facing, a change in parks could impact his value. The Milwaukee Brewers intend to pick up Ramirez’s $14 million option for next season according to Jon Heyman, so it’s up to him to decide whether he wants to return. Being in Milwaukee has it’s benefits, as Miller Park has always played friendly to home runs. On the other hand, Ramirez seemed to get caught up in the Brewers’ swing at everything philosophy last season, which may have led to an abysmal 4.0% walk rate. That’s not an issue in standard leagues, but will impact Ramirez’s value in more advanced scoring leagues. If Ramirez does walk, it’s going to be hard for him to find a better park.

All of that will be rendered moot if Ramirez can’t play anymore. In order to determine whether Ramirez still has something left in the tank, we can take a look at similar players through the same age. Once we find some decent comps, we can look at how these players performed at age-37.

Name PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Kevin Youkilis 2167 12.100% 19.900% 0.273 0.379 0.485 0.376
Wade Boggs 4491 13.700% 6.500% 0.319 0.412 0.431 0.374
Ken Caminiti 3732 11.700% 17.00% 0.287 0.37 0.504 0.374
Bob Bailey 1851 15.200% 16.200% 0.271 0.381 0.443 0.374
Adrian Beltre 3601 6.300% 12.300% 0.309 0.356 0.513 0.373
Pete Rose 5214 10.600% 6.500% 0.312 0.39 0.425 0.37
Aramis Ramirez 3632 7.700% 14.00% 0.289 0.354 0.492 0.366
Bobby Bonilla 3519 11.100% 15.100% 0.284 0.362 0.49 0.366
Tony Phillips 4487 15.400% 15.200% 0.276 0.389 0.406 0.362
Joe Torre 3321 9.300% 12.00% 0.298 0.369 0.431 0.361
Bill Mueller 2460 11.200% 11.300% 0.293 0.375 0.454 0.361
Ron Cey 4100 11.500% 15.100% 0.265 0.353 0.456 0.359
Toby Harrah 3880 14.400% 9.100% 0.275 0.385 0.404 0.359
Melvin Mora 4167 9.00% 15.300% 0.285 0.361 0.459 0.358
Troy Glaus 1608 13.300% 19.500% 0.257 0.359 0.45 0.356

The above list shows third baseman who have posted a similar offensive wOBA as Ramirez from age 30 to 36. The age range here is a bit arbitrary. I wanted it to reflect that Ramirez has defied aging curves for a while, while still allowing for the possibility that his decline kicked in last season.

A funny thing happens once we narrow down the list to look at how these players performed at age-37. A fairly large chunk of these players were not active at that point in their career.

Name wOBA 30-36 wOBA 37
Wade Boggs 0.374 0.374
Pete Rose 0.370 0.352
Tony Phillips 0.362 0.362
Ken Caminiti 0.374 0.417
Ron Cey 0.359 0.319
Melvin Mora 0.358 0.304
Toby Harrah 0.359 0.314
Bobby Bonilla 0.366 0.336

That’s it. That’s the list. Of the original list of 15 players, only Ramirez and Beltre are still active. That means five of these players were out of the majors at age-37. Guys like Youkilis and Bailey didn’t even make close to that long. That doesn’t give us a great sample. What it mostly tells us is that Ramirez is unique. Few players are this effective for this long. Wading through the performances of these eight players tells us little as well. Boggs, Caminiti, Phillips and Rose were fantastic, while Mora, Harrah and Cey finally dropped off for good. Bonilla saw some decline, but was still passable.

Looking at each player’s performance during their age-35 and age-36 seasons tells us little as well. The only guy who saw a similar decline in wOBA to Ramirez was Cey, and he completely fell off at age-37. The other guys just didn’t follow the same aging patterns.

Not surprisingly, that makes Ramirez a big risk next season. There’s just not a lot to go on here to say with any certainty that he’ll hold off Father Time again. There’s an argument to be made that perhaps conditioning and training regimens are better today, and that Ramirez has a better shot to be productive than some of the other players on the list. It’s not like fantasy owners are going to downgrade Adrian Beltre for age, even though he’ll also be 37. Still, it’s a tough gamble to make. The track record says Ramirez should be effective when healthy, but his performance last season may have been a sign that decline is coming. There’s just too much risk here.

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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

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Matt
Member
Matt

I’m not sure that he’s that ‘risky’ in the sense that it won’t cost much to get him. He’ll probably be around the 175-200 player off the board, with the upside of .290 20 hr 80 runs 90 rbi? If he’s hurt or ineffective it won’t kill you, but he seems like a decent ‘risk’ to take considering how weak 3b was last year.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

An issue I have with taking Ramirez is that he is a notorious slow starter. Is it just a slow start or a sign of things to come?

Matt
Member
Matt

Sure, but if I’m drafting Ramirez, I’m almost certainly making sure I have another 3b on my roster for that reason (and durability issues). I’m just saying the low ‘risk’ of drafting him late is worth the potential reward of him providing mid-round value.