Key Stats: For the fourth straight season Alexei Ramirez had 15 or more home runs. He’s only 30 years old and hasn’t ever had serious issues staying on the field. In four seasons Ramirez has never been ranked better than 96th or worse than 171st by Yahoo rankings. He has been a consistent player at a position that has been anything but over the same time period. There is also no glaring weakness in any of his splits which indicates he’s a lazy manager’s dream.
Skeptics Say: Ramirez had just 7 steals last year. He had averaged 13 per season prior to that. Writing him off as a double digit base stealer isn’t fair. We’ve seen players such as Chase Utley have bounce back years in steals even as age crept up on them – and that’s not saying that age is really that big of a deal with a 30-year-old.
Peer Comparison: ESPN, CBS, and I all agree that Derek Jeter should be taken prior to Alexei Ramirez. Jeter’s skills are obviously declining and he will be 38 this coming season, but from a fantasy standpoint, Jeter is the safer and better pick.
Jeter has been ranked ahead of Ramirez for all four of Ramirez’s four seasons according to Yahoo. Despite all of his “struggles” Jeter still hit close to .300 and was getting better as the season progressed last year.
That being said, I can easily see Ramirez being the better play this year. Jeter will probably not be the leadoff hitter this season for the Yankees which will lower the number of at-bats that he gets just a touch. And unlike Ramirez, Jeter has had issues staying on the field. That led to Alexei having 14 more extra base hits in 2011.
Lineup Outlook: Another reason to like Alexei surpassing Jeter at the shortstop position is the performance of the players around him in the White Sox lineup last year. Adam Dunn, Gordon Beckham, and Alex Rios all played well below expectations in 2011. Alexei reached base via hit or walk 216 times and scored 81 runs. While reaching base 23 fewer times in 2010, Alexei scored 2 more runs.
A Blogger’s Take: Now that he’s 30 and has four years in the league, we might need to accept Ramirez for what he is at the plate. Even in U.S. Cellular Field, the 20-HR pop he showed as rookie is going to float closer to 15-18, but his contact skills are good enough to expect a .275-.290 average with any kind of BABIP regression. He’ll bat near the top of the order and will have less cruddy leadoff hitter, so 80 RBI are possible. He’s not a skilled base-stealer, and the most run-happy manager in the league just left town, so don’t expect any contribution there, ever again really. He’s showed all the tools to be an above-average hitter out of the SS spot, just never at the same time, so he’s a decent sleeper candidate. – James Fegan, White Sox Observer
Projection: Alexei is due just a touch of better luck in terms of his BABIP and HR:FB. He’s due more than just a touch of luck with the other players in the White Sox lineup.
85 R 17 HR 74 RBI 9 SB .276 AVG .745 OPS in 595 at-bats