31 August 2010
Known to have one of the most egocentric personalities in sports, Ramirez's “Manny Being Manny” moniker hasn't been making many headlines since his move to Los Angeles. Despite the lack of press, though, Ramirez still possesses one of baseball's best bats.
Once Ramirez was dealt to the Chicago White Sox this past week, the national coverage returned. Forgive me if I'm a little surprised to see one of baseball's most powerful outfielders suddenly described as a useless player whose prime is long past. Last I checked, this “old-timer” was hitting .311/.405/.510 with a very good walk rate. Is the reason for Manny's dismissal because of his low home run and RBI figures?
I thought we were smarter than that.
Yes, Ramirez has suffered through a series of three costly injuries this season, the most recent of which sidelined him for 35 days according to Corey Dawkin's Baseball Injury Tool. Over the next month, Ramirez could very easily re-aggravate his calf or hamstring and be sent right back to the disabled list. But if he stays healthy he makes the White Sox a much better team.
None of Ramirez's numbers this season indicate any serious regression on the horizon. His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is right around his career average, and none of his batted ball ratios are very far from what is usually expected of the slugger. Yes, the 38-year old has lost any foot speed he once had, and is miserable defensively, but there is no reason to expect anything less than “very good” from Ramirez for the remainder of the 2010 season.
Ramirez will certainly make Chicago a better team, especially considering whose playing time he will be assuming. Currently manning the designated hitter role in the Windy City is Mark Kotsay, whose .239/.310/.388 triple-slash line is laughably poor, especially considering his position.
By replacing Kotsay's at-bats with Ramirez' for the remaining 31 games of the regular season improves the White Sox by roughly one win. Especially in the AL Central, where a Game 163 has been required the last two years, one win makes a huge difference.
Ramirez certainly doesn't give the White Sox a better chance of winning the division than the Twins, but it evens the race up by a considerable margin. Don't start the “woe is me” chants yet, though, the Twins are a better team with plenty of opportunities to further cushion their divisional lead.
Besides, even if Ramirez goes on an offensive rampage and makes the two AL Central teams more evenly matched, Minnesota has a four-game head start.
But let's be honest: Minnesota is a better offensive team than Chicago, even factoring in Ramirez's impact over the next month. The Twins also have a better rotation, and a much better bullpen. If the two teams were to play 31 head-to-head contests, Minnesota would certainly come out on top.
Let's just hope that any lucky breaks Chicago receives isn't enough to overcome the Twins' superiority.