Jose Ramirez Could Be a Bust for 2018
There haven’t been many Fantasy Baseball drafts to date, but Spring Training is right around the corner and the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) has published the Average Draft Position data from the first drafts there. That makes it a good time to start looking at how players are being valued in the early going. That’s exactly what you’ll see and hear in the video below from the FNTSY Sports Network, as host Garion Thorne is joined by special guest Justin Mason (@JustinMasonFWFB.)
Average Draft Positions Disagree About Jose Ramirez
One of the players discussed on the program is Cleveland Indians 2B/3B Jose Ramirez, who stands out as a player whose value appears to be all over the map depending on where you look. For example, the NFBC crowd currently has him listed at ADP 19, while the industry consensus rankings at Fantasypros.com has him at ADP 55. That’s a pretty wide disparity. Let’s see if we can conjure up a reason for such a broad difference in valuation.
Holy Inflation. Jose Ramirez taken at pick 1.7 this is @thenfbc DC.
— Murse (@lilbonest) February 6, 2018
Ramirez, age 25, is entering his fifth season in the Major Leagues but he’s only been a full-time player since 2016, a season in which he slashed .312/.363/.462 with 11 home runs, 84 runs, 76 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. While those statistics aren’t indicative of a Top 20 overall player, there were other reasons to believe that Ramirez would improve and be more valuable as a Fantasy asset that season.
Jose Ramirez Has Been a Portrait of Consistency
First of all, he played four different positions in 2016. The majority of the time he played third base, but he also put in enough playing time in the outfield to make him eligible there in nearly all Fantasy formats. He also dabbled at second base and shortstop but fell short of qualifying there for Fantasy purposes.
Even more remarkable, though, was the consistency of his hitting. Ramirez, a switch-hitter, hit both left-handed (.311) and right-handed (.312) pitchers equally well. In addition, his monthly splits in 2016 reveal that his “low” months came during the summer in June (.273) and July (.287), and he managed to bat well over .300 during the rest of the season. While it’s true that he clearly enjoyed hitting at home (.347), his road average (.275) was hardly an embarrassment. The best part of all this is that it set the stage for his breakout 2017 season.
In 2017, Ramirez put together an equally great and consistent season that Fantasy owners were thrilled with. His triple slash of .318/.374/.583 is almost a carbon copy of 2016 with the huge exception being his slugging percentage, which rose an astounding 120 points. That will happen when you slug 29 home runs. Most hitters generally sacrifice something to produce so many more home runs – whether it’s a drop in batting average or an increase in strikeouts. Ramirez sacrificed neither; his batting average was several points higher than the previous season, and his strikeout percentage rose by less than one percentage point to 10.7 percent, which is ridiculously good compared to the league average of 21.6 percent.
Jose Ramirez 19.3 ADP - ? @Tedschuster says he had the best season of his life.
— Fantasy Sports Radio (@SiriusXMFantasy) February 9, 2018
Projection Systems Hate Ramirez for 2018
All of which brings us around to the 2018 season and the expectations for this year’s campaign. We’ve already seen a great disparity in his ADP to date, and oddly enough, the disparity is also apparent in the projection systems that are currently available.
Let’s see if we can figure out why all three projection systems seem to have little or no faith in Ramirez and the season he put up in 2017. We begin with a look at the skill metrics of a hitter. To see if there is a trend, we’ll examine both of his full seasons – 2016 and 2017.
|BABIP||K%||Eye||GB%||LD%||FB%||Hard %||Pull %||Contact%||SwStr%|
To be completely honest, there doesn’t appear to be anything here to support the dramatic drop off in production that all three of the projection systems here seem to forecast. (Numbers in parenthesis are rounded off combining both seasons) For his batting average, the contact rate (88 percent), line drive rate (22 percent) and batting eye (73 percent) are all right in line with an average above .300. Yet, only Baseball HQ is projecting .308 while the others are forecasting drop-offs, Pecota dramatically so.
The power-hitting metrics are one place where I might agree with a minimal drop off from the 29 home runs Ramirez hit in 2017. His Hard Hit% of 34 percent is above the league average 31.8 percent. However, it’s well below the 40 percent mark we typically see with true “power hitters.” However, Ramirez also maintained a 39.7 percent fly ball rate, and the 46.3 percent pull rate also bodes well for continued power hitting. Ramirez has an excellent batting eye (.73), and both his strikeout rate (10%) and walk rate (8.1 percent – not shown) are both excellent and easily support his overall hitting profile.
Low Projections and High ADPs: It Can't Be Both Ways
In the final analysis, I must disagree with all three projections for Ramirez. There is no reason to think he can’t maintain a batting average of .310 or higher. All of his hitting metrics easily support that kind of hitting. While I can understand how his 34 percent Hard Hit% might lead some to think he will regress in home run production, I would point to the league-leading 56 doubles he hit and offer that there is room for home run growth. He is just 25 years old, and if he follows what we’ve come to expect as a hitter’s productivity curve, his most productive years are still to come. No, I don’t think Ramirez is a 40-HR hitter; there is clearly some limit to how far he’ll go with that 34 percent Hard Hit rate. But I see no reason why he can’t continue to hit 25-30 HRs every year for the next 2-4 seasons and possibly more.
In addition to the hitting, I’d also like to put in word for his baserunning. It certainly appears that 20 stolen bases are his ceiling. So, I agree with the projection systems there; he should steal something south of 20 bases this season and perhaps for another season or two. Then we should see a drop off after that. So, now we’re ready to answer the question about his value and where he should rank in the ADP data.
While I totally disagree with the consensus rankings that have Ramirez at 55 overall, I also disagree with his NFBC mark of 19, which would make him the second-best second baseman (behind Jose Altuve), the fourth-best third baseman (behind Manny Machado) and the 15th best hitter overall. Clearly, Ramirez belongs among the better Fantasy commodities because he represents very well in all five major scoring categories. However, I’d place him closer to 25th best overall as a hitter, so his ADP should probably fall somewhere in the low 30s depending on how you value pitchers, which is another ball of wax to discuss another day.
One final thought I’d like to add is that you may not want to draft Ramirez, at least not at his current ADP. With a price tag that high and the projection systems generally down on him (regardless of what I think), the risk just might not be worth the potential reward. The only thing that may mitigate this is if his ADP drops when Fantasy owners start to see those lowered projections for Ramirez. Then there might be a bargain to be had.
Make sure to watch the video for insights into other player ADPs and Fantasy values and be sure to keep a lookout for RotoExperts’ projections and the Xclusive Edge Fantasy Baseball package which will be launched very soon!
*Sources cited include Fangraphs.com, BaseballHQ.com, Baseball Prospectus.com
Jose Ramirez Photo Credit: AP Photo/Tony Dejak
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