Heading into 2011, Aramis Ramirez looked like the perfect bounce-back candidate. His overall line was depressed by a pathetic BABIP, but most of his other peripherals remained consistent. With a little more luck this season, it was easy to see Ramirez rebounding in a big way. While Ramirez has been able to improve his line from last season, there’s one area where Ramirez’s production is unacceptable. Ramirez has only been able to club four home runs this season, and is on pace to post his lowest slugging percentage since joining the Chicago Cubs. Due to his recent power outage, and injury history, Ramirez is a player you’ll want to stay away from around the trade deadline.
It’s easy to see why owners might sucker themselves into believing in Aramis Ramirez. Most of his peripherals are hovering around his career averages and he’s been relatively healthy all season. While his average and on-base percentage are what you should have expected, Ramirez was drafted to produce power and RBI. Even though he’s hit near the middle of the Cubs’ lineup all season, Ramirez has only driven in 26 runs this season; good for 48th in the National League. The Cubs offense has looked equally pathetic this season, so even if there’s a mild breakout, Ramirez might not drive in as many runs as expected.
The main issue here is the complete loss of power. Honestly, it’s nearly impossible to explain why he hasn’t hit more home runs this season. Typically, that would mean that we should expect a bounce-back as the season progresses. The problem is, it’s already mid-June and Ramirez only has four dongers. In order to reach 20-25, he’s really going to have to turn it up during the second half of the season. It’s not impossible; as Ramirez clubbed 19 home runs over the second half of last season, but it seems like a lot to ask from the 32 year old.
Even if you buy into a second-half power surge (ZIPS ROS only calls for Ramirez to hit 10 more home runs), Ramirez’s injury history in recent seasons has to be a cause for concern. A dislocated shoulder caused Ramirez to miss nearly two months in 2009, and a thumb injury kept him down last season. He was also plagued by various nagging injuries which also limited his playing time and effectiveness. Ramirez isn’t getting any younger; he’ll be 33 before the month ends, and it looks like he’s bound to suffer from some type of nagging injury as the season drags on.
Look, it’s easy to look at Aramis Ramirez and envision a nice turnaround that helps you win your fantasy league. Resist the temptation to strike, though. Ramirez’s lack of power, age and injury history make him a risky candidate going forward. In order to meet his pre-season projections, Ramirez would have to absolutely mash over the second half. He would also have to avoid the nagging injuries that have taken in down in season’s past. Don’t buy into the hype; avoid Aramis Ramirez.
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.