Image: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
2021 age: 26
Bats: Right; Throws: Right
Contract: Pre-Arb 2 (1 option remaining)
2020 stats: .200/.273/.200, RBI (11 PAs) – 2019: .276/.312/.416 11 homers,
2020 in review: Ramirez barely got on the field in 2020 after having something of a breakout rookie 2019 season. He tested positive for COVID-19 during the Marlins big 2020 outbreak and didn’t get back until September. By the time he came back, he sustained a hamstring injury and that was pretty much all anyone heard from Ramirez. It was not a strong follow-up sophomore campaign.
Offensive impact: Let’s just ignore Ramirez’s 2020 due to sample size (11 PAs) and look at 2019. In his breakout year, Ramirez hit .290/.323/.387 in the first half with three homers, 20 RBI, and five steals. His second half wasn’t as fruitful albeit with a little more power – .264/.304/.438, eight homers, and 30 RBI. He did carry a .357 BABIP in the first half and .308 in the second half. He managed an average exit velo (88.9) so not unbelievable to carry an advantageous BABIP. The problem with having a solid exit velo and trying to carry a high average on balls hit into play is that Ramirez hits the ball on the ground at over a 55% clip, so even with good speed he’s less likely to be able to get on base as much. Ramirez swings a lot, at 54% swing rate in 2019 and swings at the first pitch 36% of the time, which is aggressive. For example, the Tribe’s 2020 leadoff man Cesar Hernandez had swing rate of 42.5% and a first pitch swing rate of 26.1%. Luckily for Ramirez, he makes a lot of contact and only strikes out about 20% of the time, but he only walked 4% of the time in 2019. His game is to make contact and run. It’s a lower offensive profile but one he’s managed to make work with a .303/.358/.421 batting line in the minors. Ramirez also has a very wild, aggressive swing. In the past, Ramirez had issues staying in shape with his thicker build so it’s pretty incredible that he’s considered a great runner now according to Statcast’s sprint speed (92nd percentile).
Defensive impact: Metrics vary on Ramirez’s defensive performance. He’s an elite level runner (92nd percentile in sprint speed – 29.0 f/s per Statcast) but Statcasts Outs Above Average (OAA) had him at a -4 overall with only being a +1 in left field. Fangraphs’ defensive runs saved (DRS) had him at -1 in 2019 in CF, -1 in RF and -1 in LF. However, his UZR/150 (ultimate zone rating per 150 innings played) in CF was 6.8, which is pretty solid. He’s negative in other positions. It’s kind of a mixed bag which suggests he’s not a complete detriment in the outfield, but he’s not exactly a great fielder either. He’s not such a great fielder that it carries his mediocre bat. Likely Ramirez takes bad routes or gets bad reads considering he runs well.
Beyond the stats: Why does Ramirez swing so often? Well, for one, probably bat control. In 2019 he made contact at a 76.6% rate, which again, isn’t far off of Cesar Hernandez’s 81% rate in 2020. He swings at pitches out of the zone nearly 40% of the time, but manages to make contact on those pitches 61.6% of the time. Hernandez for comparison again, only chases pitches out of the zone about 25% of the time and makes contact almost 64% of the time. So Ramirez makes a fair amount of contact when he swings, which plays into his aggressive approach at the plate. That leads to a lot of undesirable outcomes with soft hit balls or hard hit grounders right at someone. It’s probably something he’d need to clean up to have a higher offensive floor.
2021 role: Ramirez was just claimed on waivers on 2/25/2021 in spring training, so it’s hard to say what his fit is on Cleveland’s roster. He has an option remaining and Cleveland has many candidates for its outfield. It’s likely if Ramirez gets through camp on the 40 man roster and stays with Cleveland, he heads to Triple-A to serve as depth. Jordan Luplow and Eddie Rosario are two outfield locks in 2021 so perhaps Ramirez can earn his way to a roster spot but he’d have to beat out Oscar Mercado, Bradley Zimmer at least, and possibly some minor league invites.
Fantasy impact: Shouldn’t be on anyone’s radar in the draft. If he gets any playing time in 2021 there’s a change you might be able to snag him for a few steals off the waiver wire, but you should be able to do better unless you’re in a deep, deep league.