Aramis Ramirez and “performing when it counts”

The Cubs and Aramis Ramirez have a mutal option for 2011 at $16 million, but it’s unlikely he exercises that option. Ramirez is looking for more than a one-year deal and as the best free agent 3rd baseman he’ll easily get a multi-year deal on the free agent market. It’s hard to say whether or not the Cubs will offer him an extension because we really have no idea what the team plans to do. Until we do it’s only speculation.

One argument that was brought up in the comments on that Bruce Levine article was a popular one we’ve often heard about Ramirez: he only performs after the team is out of the race. This is easy enough to check. Let’s start with 2003 which was the first year Ramirez played any important games. I’ll be using rWAR below.

While with the Pirates in 2003 Ramirez batted .280/.330/.448. That was good for a 99 OPS+ and he was worth .7 WAR. After joining the Cubs he hit .259/.314/.491. That’s a 105 OPS+ and in many fewer games he was worth more WAR (1.1).

In the first half of 2004 he hit .326/.374/.550. He then hit .308/.372/.613 in the 2nd half.

First half 2005: .298/.356/.549 and then .311/.362/.608.

First half 2006: .259/.320/.481 followed by .328/.388/.556.

First half 2007: .312/.356/.556 followed by .308/.375/.542.

First half 2008: .285/.386/.515 followed by .294/.371/.522.

He spent much of 2009 injured so it’s not like that it’s his fault.

First half 2010: .207/.268/.380 followed by .276/.321/.526.

First half 2011: .298/.346/.497 followed by .311/.374/.515.

Other than 2010 I don’t know how anybody could say that Ramirez wasn’t performing well in the 1st half. It’s either a lie or it’s ignorance.

Not to mention the obvious flaw in the argument. These people assume it counts early in the season, but doesn’t count later in the season. If a batter goes 0-4 in 81 games and 4-4 in the other 81, does it really matter how it’s distributed? Would his 4-4 every game in the 2nd half have less value than 4-4 in the first half? Of course not.

To these people, it counts early in the season every single year even if you’re the 1999/2000 Cubs or the 2011 Astros. That’s ridiculous. Ramirez has been an excellent player for the Cubs and suggesting otherwise is just plain dumb.

Among players who had 3000 plate appearances as a Cub since 1947, Ramirez’s 126 OPS+ ranks 6th behind Sammy Sosa (139), Billy Williams (135), Derrek Lee (129), Leon Durham (128) and Ron Santo (127). There haven’t been that many with 3000 PA so let’s lower it to 2000.

Ramirez falls to 7th (Andy Pafko is now 3rd). So you know, Ramirez is ahead of Mark Grace, Ernie Banks, Andre Dawson and Ryne Sandberg.

Among 3rd baseman for the Cubs with 1000 PA since 1947, he ranks 3rd behind Bill Madlock and Ron Santo.

Going all the way back to 1876, Ramirez ranks 4th in OPS+ among Cubs players with at least 1000 PA.

Among all infielders he ranks 10th. Since 1876 only Santo and Stan Hack have more Batting Runs at 3rd base for the Cubs than Ramirez. Among all infielders he’s 10th, just barely behind Ryne Sandberg who had twice as many plate appearances. He’s 9th in Batting Runs per 700 plate appearances.

Including all Cubs players since 1876 with 1000 or more PA, Ramirez ranks 21st in Batting Runs. Think about that for a moment. Only 20 Cubs players have produced more WAR Batting Runs in a Cubs uniform than Ramirez has in over 135 years.

Trying to argue that Ramirez has been anything other than a very good player for the Cubs makes a person look unintelligent. There is no argument in favor of such a position. None.