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Roster preview: Wilson Ramos

Jan 13, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

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We are now exactly one month away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Viera. So as the final countdown to spring training begins, we’re going to preview one member of the Nationals roster each day, looking both at how these players fared in 2013 and what to expect from them in 2014. We begin today with catcher Wilson Ramos…

Age on Opening Day 2014: 26

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

2014 salary: TBD (should make roughly $2 million in first season of arbitration eligibility)

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

2014 storyline: After two injury-plagued seasons, Ramos finally proved himself healthy and productive over a significant stretch late last year. In 64 games after returning from a hamstring injury, he hit .276 with 14 homers and 53 RBI. He also started 23 consecutive games, most by any major-league catcher in 2013.

Now Ramos returns for 2014 hoping to prove he can do that over a full season. The Nationals plan to give him every opportunity; new manager Matt Williams would like for the 26-year-old to catch roughly 125 games. Ramos must prove he’s durable enough to handle the heavy workload while also remaining a productive offensive player and quality catcher behind the plate.

Best-case scenario: The second half of last season truly was a sign of things to come. Ramos starts 130 games and avoids the DL altogether. He clubs 25 homers with 85 RBI, hits .290 and gets bumped up to the No. 6 spot in the Nationals’ lineup. With renewed confidence in his own health, he also improves defensively and becomes one of baseball’s toughest catchers to run on, throwing out 35 percent of would-be basestealers. The rest of the sport takes notice, and Ramos gets to tip his cap during player introductions at Target Field in Minnesota during his first career appearance in an All-Star Game.

Worst-case scenario: Ramos’ body simply can’t hold up to the grind. He reports to spring training overweight, tweaks a hamstring on a cold April night and lands on the DL yet again. He needs nearly two months to recover, and though there are moments in which he proves productive, he can’t sustain it and can’t keep himself on the field with enough regularity. The Nationals, in the middle of a pennant race, feel they have to acquire a more reliable catcher before the July 31 trade deadline, so Ramos spends most of August and September on the bench, unable to prove himself the way he always hoped.

Most-likely scenario: Ramos mostly stays healthy for the season, though he does require one brief stint on the DL due to a nagging muscle strain that won’t heal without rest. He continues to hit for power, finishing with 20 homers and 70 RBI in 450 plate appearances. He hits .270, but his walk rate remains low and his strikeout rate high. He is an above-average defensive catcher but still struggles at times throwing runners out, in part due to his pitchers’ slow delivery to the plate. He proves a good, if a tad inconsistent, player who still feels like he has more to prove in 2015.

  1. JayB - Jan 13, 2014 at 6:10 AM

    Rizzo needs to get that Vet Backup Catcher soon. Reading Mark’s most likely comments sounds really bad for a team that must win between 95 100 games this year or they waste yet another year due to poor roster construction.

  2. David Proctor - Jan 13, 2014 at 6:16 AM

    Ramos’ 2013 was unlike his career numbers in that he has typically been a guy who could take a walk. Regardless, maybe I’m naive, or maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I think Ramos can stay healthy. I think the hamstring injuries were a result of rushing back from the ACL. I think his OBP goes up and his SLG goes down, but he still hits a solid 20 homers. I actually thought he did a very good job throwing out base stealers compared to Suzuki, though our pitchers don’t always give them a chance.

    As for a backup catcher dooming us, that’s silly. We need one, yes, but Rizzo said if Ramos misses a lot of time, he’ll trade for one like he did with Suzuki. We did fine in 2012 with Jesus Flores, we’ll be fine in 2013 with whoever backs up Ramos.

  3. zmunchkin - Jan 13, 2014 at 7:47 AM

    I agree with David. This doom and gloom about signing a veteran backup catcher is overstated. Your backup catcher is unlike every other bench player in that he only goes into the game as a last resort. And the most important job of a backup catcher is defense. Solano, Leon and Snyder are all more than adequate defensively.

    • Jw - Jan 13, 2014 at 8:05 AM

      Under Mark’s best case scenario the backup catcher will start 32 games. That’s 20% of the season! Ramos is expected to be a major offensive cog, which means run production will really suffer when he’s out if the backup is nothing but a good catch and throw guy.

      • sjm308 - Jan 13, 2014 at 9:02 AM

        I think that is the scenario around the league Jw. There just are not that many backups who can produce and the catcher is probably the guy who gets the most rest due to his position. Day game after a night game is almost automatic for the backup and that is usually Sundays. If you give the starter another days rest during the week it can be more than 20%. Look at most backups at any position and run production suffers (or, duh, they would not be backups) but lets hope we have enough pop in our lineup that we keep on rolling.

    • zmunchkin - Jan 13, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      Looking at the available catchers, exactly who is any better than Solano, Leon or Snyder?

      • Jeff - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:44 AM

        Buck in Seattle
        Leon my pick

  4. sjm308 - Jan 13, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    One point that might not be a major concern, but maybe a minor concern, is that I never thought Ramos did a good job with throws from the outfield. I am sure its not a major issue, like throwing out guys trying to steal, but I think he dropped more than his fair share of throws. Again, not a big deal because that play is not something that happens every game but I do hope he works on that skill as well as others defensively. I was surprised to see an almost 30% caught stealing mark for last year because I felt we were easy to run on. I also felt most of that was on the pitchers and their lack of ability to hold runners so I am not upset with Wilson for that. If he can get it up to 35% that would be great.

    I have an ongoing discussion with my nephew who can’t let go of his Oriole fandom no matter how much I try. Two years ago I told him to watch our catcher pass his catcher and he almost went into spasms. He is not laughing as much now although Weiters is still a fine defensive catcher. Question to this group? Would you trade them even up? Weiters is going into his final year or two of arbitration and will make much more than Ramos. He is also a Boras client, at least I think he is. I don’t think either GM even thinks about it and I am not sure I make the move as a faux GM but Wilson’s injuries are a part of his career history so far.

    I saved the comment on gloom & doom for last. It is true JayB and what else would you expect? He honestly does not know how to write from the glass half full perspective. Eeyore at his finest, but he does want us to win. He honestly didn’t use the word doom and thank god he didn’t actually mention the “window” but he did imply we would not be in the playoffs without a better back-up catcher. Only time will tell

    Go Nats!!

    • janebeard - Jan 13, 2014 at 8:47 PM

      Nope. I stick with Wilson. Look at his potential upside offensively. He is still young; Weiters has been in the bigs in an everyday position longer than Wilson. Wilson will get it. he will.

    • Manassas Nats Fan - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:52 PM

      The Buffalo solid second half last year.

      Excited to see his growth again thiscseason.

      Good luck Wilson.

  5. Doc - Jan 13, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    Ramoose had a good season in the VWL, DHing. Great that they kept him away from squatting duties.

    Sandy Leon had an even better Winter League season behind the plate.. Let’s hope that Leon can open some eyes in ST.

  6. nats128 - Jan 13, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    Strasburg avoids arbitration. That’s one down.

  7. Mark Zuckerman - Jan 13, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    For those interested: Only 4 MLB catchers started 120 or more games last season (Wieters, Perez, Molina, Lucroy). Wieters was the only one to start more than 130 games.

    So if Ramos can start 120 games this year, that would put him among the league leaders at his position.

  8. Eugene in Oregon - Jan 13, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    I’m less concerned about whether the Nats go into the season with a veteran back-up catcher than I am with them having a adequate back-up. What’s adequate? A back-up who can — using Mark Zuckerman’s numbers above — catch one out of every four or five games, handle pitchers and base runners reasonably well, and hit somewhere above the Mendoza line. That back-up is not necessarily — and probably shouldn’t be — the catcher to replace Wilson Ramos for the rest of the season if Mr. Ramos were again to go down with an injury. That replacement should either be in the minor leagues getting regular ABs and staying sharp defensively or could be acquired by mid-season trade. I’m thus comfortable with Sandy Leon or any of the other contenders as the back-up.

  9. nats128 - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    I watch lots of pointy ball aka football and you rarely see a pulled hamstring or oblique injury. Baseball is full of them. Is the key doing more stretching in the on deck circle?

    • NatsLady - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      Really? I saw a half-dozen yesterday in two games. Guys limped off the field, got shot up and came back. Then they rest for a week (or in yesterday’s case, for six months).

      • NatsLady - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        There was a runner/receiver playing with two bad ankles. The announcers doubted he would play more than half the game. (Last week he was taken out before half-time.)

      • nats128 - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:29 PM

        Sure, I saw lots of injuries for concussions and knees and ankles. Where did you specifically see pulled hammies? Maybe I missed it.

        You are talking about impact injuries which happens all the time in contact sports. I’m referring only to pulled muscles.

    • Doc - Jan 13, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      Suffering through a hamstring pull myself, I was wondering the same thing nats128. Why baseball, and not football??? Do they just not report them as such? You would think that football would have more hamstring injuries.

      Basketball I don’t follow, so I’m not sure how that sport does with hamstrings.

  10. TimDz - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    Posted this on the MASNSports Face Book page…any chance it will stay posted?

    Mr. Angelos…
    PLEASE set the NATIONALS free!!!!!
    You are holding another major league team HOSTAGE because of your greed….If you want to run the once proud Orioles franchise into the ground, so be it…you are the owner….
    But holding the Nationals down and keeping them from getting a FAIR and EQUITABLE local broadcasting deal is just WRONG…

    • naterialguy - Jan 13, 2014 at 6:14 PM

      Have seen the posts on the Nats Facebook page? They could use a little damage control on the LaRoche trophy hunting pick. People are hammering him and the team over that. I know the team has nothing to do with it but they need to put a message out there to make it known to those that don’t realize.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 13, 2014 at 6:54 PM

        I don’t think it’s that they don’t realize, so much as they don’t care, they just want somebody to yell at about it, and FB commenters aren’t famous for being picky about their targets.

    • Jeff - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:43 AM

      Expos fans smelled this as part of the relocation agreement from the get go.
      Especially after Selig held Angelo’s hand at Cuban exhibition game :
      Here Peter spend some aspect is lawsuit $$$$$$
      Lerner has more cash than Peter right??
      Surely….

  11. Jeff - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:40 AM

    Nothing like January insomnia when you want to sleep off a virus
    The 4:37 am question:
    If Reynolds reunites with Ryan11
    On nats – does this spell a phone call to
    Bo porter in Houston about Tyler Moore???
    Detweiler, Blevins, Solis, Robertson, Spann, Grace, Applebee’s , Harper,
    And the small brigade below Hags.
    E

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