Alexei Ramirez made a splash in his rookie season of 2008, hitting .290 with 21 HR, 77 RBI, 65 R and 13 SB.  After regressing a bit in 2009, he came back strong last season:

585 At Bats
.282 Batting Average (165 Hits)
18 Home Runs
70 RBI
83 Runs
13 Stolen Bases
.313 On Base Percentage
.431 Slugging Percentage
.300 Batting Average on Balls in Play

He has improved in runs scored in each of his three seasons in the Major Leagues.  Last season he spent most of his time near the bottom of the order (278 AB hitting seventh or eighth), but also got a shot near the top of the order.

Ramirez was started in the second slot for 179 AB, hitting .279 with 5 HR, 25 RBI, 27 R and 2 SB.  It’s not a new move for the White Sox (he had 249 AB in the second hole in 2009), but a more permanent move there would do a lot for his prospective value.

Playing in the American League generally means more runs scored, but it’s hard to imagine him replicating his 80+ runs hitting seventh or eighth.  Of course, if he doesn’t find a way to get on base more, where he hits is going to be irrelevant.  Just look at his walk rates over his three years:

  • 2008—3.5%
  • 2009—8.1%
  • 2010—4.3%

While we can hope that he can rediscover the 2009 rate, it is looking like the exception, not the rule.  Though he’s proven that he can hit for a solid average (career .283 hitter), he needs to walk significantly more to develop into a good run scorer.

That he will maintain said average is extremely believable.  Over his three seasons he’s posted BABIPs of .294, .288 and last season’s .300.  His strikeout rates have also been consistent, with marks of 12.7%, 12.2% and 14.0%.  There’s no reason to think that he won’t post a similar mark in 2011.

In fact, he could improve on his average with more power.  The 29-year-old saw his HR/FB rebound to 10.8% in 2010, but his fly ball rate fall to 33.3%.  While he did post a career high line drive rate of 18.7%, he also had a career high groundball rate of 48.0%.

What does all that mean?  There is reason to believe that he can maintain the elevated line drive rate, while also increasing the fly ball rate.  If that were to happen, his power would increase.  More home runs mean fewer balls in play, which in turn means a higher average.

Did you get all that?

Let’s put it this way…

There is reason to believe that Ramirez will increase both his power and his average.  If that were to happen, he could maintain his run total with or without an increase in walks.

The bottom line is that Alexei Ramirez appears to be an extremely attractive option for fantasy owners.  While he may start slowly (he hit .221 with 1 HR and 8 RBI in April), don’t panic.  He’s become a notoriously slow starter, but before long he is going to get things going.

He’s not one of the elite shortstops in the league, but he should be among the better options in the second tier.

What are your thoughts of Ramirez?  Is he a player you plan on targeting?  Why or why not?

Make sure to check out some of our 2011 Projections:


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