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Roster review: Wilson Ramos

Oct 14, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

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Age on Opening Day 2014: 26

How acquired: Trade from Twins for RHP Matt Capps, July 2010

MLB service time: 3 years, 47 days

2013 salary+bonuses: $501,250

Contract status: Arbitration-eligible in 2014, free agent in 2017

2013 Stats: 78 G, 303 PA, 29 R, 78 H, 9 2B, 0 3B, 16 HR, 59 RBI, 0 SB, 15 BB, 42 SO, .272 AVG, .307 OBP, .470 SLG, .777 OPS, 8 E, 29% CS rate, 1.8 WAR

Quotable: “I know I’m coming back from the surgery and two injuries in my hammy, but I’m happy for what I did. I was thinking: ‘Finish healthy, and it’s not about the numbers,’ but I made pretty good numbers this year.” — Wilson Ramos

2013 analysis: After Ramos missed most of 2012 with a torn ACL, the Nationals didn’t know what exactly to expect from their young catcher this season. And some of their worst fears were quickly realized when he landed on the DL with a hamstring strain, then landed right back there when he aggravated the same injury shortly after returning to the active roster.

Ramos made it back at long last on July 4, then not only stayed healthy the rest of the way but proved he could be a highly productive player while taking his position behind the plate almost every single night. He started 63 of the Nationals’ final 78 games, including 23 in a row at one point (most by any MLB catcher this season). And in those 63 games, he hit .276 with 14 homers and 53 RBI, most of it from the No. 8 spot in the lineup.

Ramos’ defensive work was just as impressive. In addition to deftly handling the pitching staff — the Nats had a 3.26 ERA when Ramos was catching, well below the club’s 3.59 ERA for the entire season — he also caught 29 percent of all would-be basestealers, solidifying one of the team’s biggest problem areas.

2014 outlook: There’s no question now that Ramos can be one of the best all-around catchers in the majors … if he can stay on the field. That will continue to be the biggest concern entering next season.

Ramos was determined to prove his durability during the final month of this season, and Davey Johnson happily gave him the opportunity, starting him in 23 consecutive games. Whether the Nationals’ new manager is quite as willing to ride his No. 1 catcher so hard remains to be seen.

Ramos will try to shed some weight this winter, giving his body the best possible chance to hold up through the long grind. And he’ll probably continue to take it easy on the bases, not exactly busting down the line to try to beat out a grounder to the hole at short. If that lack of hustle translates into 120 games started in 2014, the Nationals will have no complaints.

  1. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 14, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    I would consider Ramos an extension candidate. Like shortstop, there are not any catchers usually available of Ramos talent. He does have some holes in his game but they can still be addressed. He can work through these as he gains more experience behind the plate. The biggest concern is his health so I wouldn’t mind if Nationals sign him to a relatively cheap extension.

    • tcostant - Oct 14, 2013 at 9:00 AM

      I agree – Guys like Harper and Strasburg are tuff because they git big deals out of the draft. But Ramos barely made $1M in lifetime earnings. It would be hard for fim to turn down 6 years/$40M deal if offered.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Oct 14, 2013 at 9:09 AM

        I will try to pepper new extension with as many team options as possible.

  2. nats128 - Oct 14, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    Im surprized you didnt mention that Ramos led the team by a large margin with BA with RISP .326/.352/.512/.863

    Ramos mostly batted 7th and 8th and made the most of his RBI opportunities. Adjusting Ramos to 596 ABs for 2013 would have put him at #1 of the team with HRs (33) and RBIs (122). I adjusted Bryce Harper also to 596 ABs and his HR total would have been 28 and RBIs only 81.

    • pdowdy83 - Oct 14, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      Adjustments like that are dangerous. Had Harper not gotten hurt he would hve had much gaudier numbers. You are adjusting Harpers out by only adding 1 month into it while you are adding half a season almost for Ramos. It is highly unlikely a catcher will get 596 at bats and if he did there would be so much wear and tear his offense would drop considerably.

      I’m sure your point was to praise Ramos and not slight Harper but extrapolating numbers out like that usually gives a false set of data. Just like all the people who were talking about Harper hitting 40-50 homers after his torrid start.

      • nats128 - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:02 AM

        pdowdy83, thats a good point on the comparison to Harper but still Ramos had 59 RBIs for the season and Bryce had 58 and Bryce had 137 more ABs. Hard to imagine the production from both players if they were both healthy for a full season.

        I do think that the RBIs is where Ramos excelled. So many times he extended his hands and guided balls over the infielders for base hits.

        You are also correct that a NL Catcher won’t get to 596 ABs. I wasnt trying to say he would. Just showing that he was by far the most productive RBI man on the team and a good full year comparison on his HR numbers. Ramos tallied 59 RBIs in less than 1/2 the season.

        Just remarkable offensive numbers for Ramos and as Mark pointed out, not to shabby on the defensive ERA stats.

        2014 could be a legitimate All Star season for Ramos.

      • therealjohnc - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:32 PM

        The guys hitting in front of Ramos (Zimmerman, Harper, Werth, Desmond) had much better OBP’s than the guys hitting in front of Harper (Span, Rendon, and a few times early in the season when Harper was hottest, Espinosa). It’s really hard to drive in runs when no one is on base.

      • nats128 - Oct 14, 2013 at 7:45 PM

        John, you are making excuses for the reality of the situation. RBIs mostly come from Runners in Scoring Position but also from solo HRs and XBH with runners on 1st base.

        Denard Span actually had more ABs with RISP than Ryan Zimmerman had. Span was 3rd on the team with RISP opportunities so that blows your theory right out of the water.

        Bryce Harper was not good in RISP situations batting only .230. Batting .330 is a 43% increase in RBI opps. Bryce had his opportunities and just wasnt good in those situations.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Oct 14, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      may be because of small sample size.

  3. sjm308 - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    Ramos might be the biggest value on the payroll and certainly one of Rizzo’s finest moves. I support the extension as well. The injuries each year are a concern but he is so young, I think he figures out how to take care of his body. I realize this is about individuals, but who is the front runner for backup catcher right now? I am guessing they stay in-house for this but there usually are quite a few vets out there just looking to hang in as a backup.

  4. jd - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    sjm308,

    When they played Ramos every single game down the stretch including day games after night games it told you volumes on how little trust they have in Solano. Don’t be surprised if they find one of these veterans you speak of to back up Ramos. Since catching is a risky position and Ramos has been injury prone you have to have a catcher you can slot in to play a lot of games if needed.

    I would consider bringing Suzuki back if the price is right.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      JD, I agree. The Nats will need a veteran backup. Solano is a good kid but you can’t give him 150 BAs.

      • sjm308 - Oct 14, 2013 at 12:20 PM

        agreed as well as to the Veteran backup and I do like Suzuki as long as the new manager doesn’t try and do that 50/50% thing. I realize that is past now with Ramos showing what he can do. He has not put up any kind of numbers but it would not surprise me to see Norris set free by the A’s as well.

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    128, don’t compare Ramos to Harper. Compare him to his peer group. Ramos would lead all catchers in full year adjusted RBIs. McCann would be 2nd at 97 and Yadier 3rd at 95. McCann and Ramos would tie with 33 HRs.

    Molina had 505 ABs this year and Ramos could be near 450 I would think if healthy. Kind of surprising Yadier’s HRs dropped to 12 this year from 22 the previous year. Yadier also plays 1st base to keep his bat in the lineup. 5 games at 1st base this season.

    I have said Ramos reminds me a lot of Yadier in his approach at the plate.

    • nats128 - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      Yes. I shouldnt have compared Ramos to Harper. I will point out Laroche had 62 RBIs in the middle of the order and played full-time and I think the RBI stat from the middle of the order players is very telling on why the team struggled much of the season.

      When your catchers as a group drive in 83 runs total for the season and the 1st baseman combined for only 72 and leftfield for 63 you can see that you have a problem as a team. Yes Harper was injured but the 1st base production was beyond poor.

      The combo of Ramos and Suzuki while not great with OBP were excellent at driving in runs.

      • therealjohnc - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:39 PM

        The RBI for the middle of the order guys IS very telling … it tells that they guys at the top of the order weren’t getting on base. If you look at the Nats’ starting 8 players, the two with the lowest OBP’s are Denard Span (.327) and Anthone Rendon (.329). The guys with the highest OBP’s are the middle of the order bats: Werth (.398), Harper (.368), and Zimmerman (.344). Which is why Desmond was second on the team in RBIs, by the way – he regularly had baserunners to drive in.

      • nats128 - Oct 14, 2013 at 8:00 PM

        John, OBP of the runners in front of a batter is one of the main opportunities for RBIs however a batter like Ian Desmond only got 65% of his RBIs when runners were on 2nd or 3rd. The rest were from runners on 1st or bases empty.

  6. Theophilus T.S. - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Like the mythical fourth outfielder, the backup catcher — espec. w/ Ramos — needs to be able to start for an extended stretch (the better part of 30-40 games) if the starter goes down. I think the best bets among FAs are Navarro and J. Molina. Navarro will be looking for a starting gig, multiple years and more money than I think the Nats should pay.

    I am pleased to hear that Ramos is planning on losing weight. If I like Molina clearly I don’t care whether Ramos can run. But I would like to see him flopping around the plate and blocking errant pitches more easily.

    When he was acquired the Nats hyped him as a 25 HR, 75 RBI guy. Last season shows he’s capable of those nos., if he keeps himself in shape and off the DL.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:49 AM

      Hype realized. I also agree that Ramos has now stepped up to be considered a real prediction for All Star. I think Ramos numbers would have been even better if Davey had rested him at key times.

      Matheny would good in blowouts to pull Yadi to keep him fresh. Davey pushed his catchers too much. Suzuki’s production nosedived as he piled on the innings and Ramos BA plummeted the same.

      Knorr being a former catcher will know how to handle his catchers better.

  7. sunshinebobby - Oct 14, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Sign him to an extension, assign a personal trainer to him every day, get him to a Pilates studio, stretch those muscles daily and get him on a weight program. Do the same thing for FoF as well.

    And sign a decent backup just in case the above doesn’t work.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      I think you’re right. All these players would benefit from a core stretching discipline. Too many muscle pulls and oblique injuries in baseball. There has to be a better preventative program that Rizzo could invest in.

      • therealjohnc - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:40 PM

        I love the fact that commenters assume that players aren’t doing core stretching, specialized weight training, etc. Based on nothing more than “this guy got hurt, therefore he must not be doing it.”

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        John, I don’t think your comment was intended towards me. I never said who was doing what. I just stated the obvious that “all these players would benefit” thinking its a good time that Rizzo adds a yoga instructor to the Strength & Conditioning group under Philbin.

        Also not all injuries are a result of not stretching out or core equilibrium. Injuries happen from a variety of reasons.

  8. Theophilus T.S. - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    (A) Knorr won’t be the next manager.

    (B) Yeah, I pretty much assume they aren’t working out very often in the off season, just as I assume they aren’t individually seeking complete medical workups and that the Nats docs aren’t flying all over the country, not to mention the DR and Venezuala, doing physical exams or checking the contents of their refrigerators. I remember, between 2011 and ST 2013, Johnson said Z’mann “didn’t do any throwing,” spent the winter in WI fishing and hunting. It just isn’t the nature of the beast. The NFL makes players come in for mini-camps in the off season, pays bonuses for working out, so that they can be certain players stay in shape. Training facilities remain open year around so that players can be monitored and work out under supervision, and many live year-around near the team HQ so they can work out together. For football players training is a full-time, year-around job punctuated by games. (Not to mention that they live — some of them — in fear of getting cut and not being paid because they are fat and don’t have guaranteed contracts.) Baseball isn’t like that. Need we be reminded how Zimmerman looked without a shirt during ST? Why was everyone excited when Bernadina show up in camp looking like Adonis? Because it was not the norm. Why did the Pirates complain about Navy Seal physical training? Football players get hurt running into each other at high speed. For a not-very-violent sport, an extraordinary number of baseball players get hurt swinging a bat and running between home and first. I give them credit for playing a 162-game schedule but, on the whole, baseball players are not superbly conditioned athletes the way football, hockey and even soccer players are.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      Can you imagine a baseball team wearing uniforms from Under-Armor? I can’t.

    • therealjohnc - Oct 14, 2013 at 4:30 PM

      It used to be true that virtually all players came into Spring Training to get into shape. That’s really not true anymore – most players take a couple of weeks to a month off after the season to let their bodies rest, and then start working out again. There are a lot of physical therapists who think that the reason for the increase in oblique (etc) injuries is that players are working out too much Ironic, no?

      And I really don’t worry about one picture. There was a big kerfuffle in NY because the NY Post published an unflattering picture of Derek Jeter that made him look fat. Anyone who saw Jeter’s follow-up interviews or pictures quickly realized that it was just a bad moment/bad angle.

  9. sunshinebobby - Oct 14, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Post of the day goes to …

    Theophilus T.S. – Oct 14, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Can you imagine a baseball team wearing uniforms from Under-Armor? I can’t.

    • Chazz - Oct 14, 2013 at 6:17 PM

      I am totally going to redesign my team’s unis now. great idea!

      • natsfan1a - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:36 AM

        Just remember, the rose goes in the front. Ohhhh. Under-*Armor*. Never mind.

    • ArVAFan - Oct 14, 2013 at 7:55 PM

      I can, and it’s not a pretty picture. I think Prince Fielder looks better as is, thank you.

  10. MicheleS - Oct 14, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    Sign Wilson to an extension BEFORE he get’s too expensive and yes, all players either should be doing Yoga or Pilates. And hire a nutritionist to follow Wilson around, and only let him see his Mom’s cooking 2 times per month MAX!!!

    • ArVAFan - Oct 14, 2013 at 8:55 PM

      OK, so Adam LaRoche should eat Wilson Ramos’ mom’s cooking. Although I have to say that Ramos didn’t do too badly after he started eating arepas for breakfast mid-season. So perhaps a bit of compromise is in order.

    • Sonny G 10 - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:48 AM

      Maybe we should have Detwiler eat at Wilson’s mom’s house.

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