To say Aramis Ramirez was having problems at the plate prior to Saturday’s game would be an understatement. Ramirez had not recorded more than one hit in a game since smacking three singles against the Cardinals on April 16th. That 18-game stretch with no multi-hit games was the second longest of his career.
Now, Aramis Ramirez is no stranger to slumps and slow starts. He made his major league debut on May 26, 1998, at old County Stadium as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ramirez went hitless in two games against the Brewers then got blanked during a three game series versus the Montreal Expos. It took Ramirez 26 ABs, over six games, before recording the first hit of his career – a double, of course, that plated two runs. The slow start has stuck with him his entire career. Prompting Ramirez to joke with Todd Rosiak that, “I would have like, five MVPs, in my house right now if I could ever get off to a good start”.
The slow starts are evident in Ramirez’s career monthly splits —
By wRC+, where 100 is league average, Ramirez is at his most pedestrian the first two months of the season. So even after Ramirez got off to a sizzling start to this season, .377 AVG / .905 OPS / 155 wRC+, it wasn’t surprising to see him struggle over the past few weeks. Slumps are no stranger to Ramirez but the length of his latest one was becoming a concern.
In the 18 games between April 17th and May 9th, Ramirez posted these unsightly numbers —
Now, Ramirez has gone 10 consecutive games or more without recording multiple hits 25 different times in his career. So he’s accustomed to scuffling and still putting together a productive season. Once the streak reaches 15 games, it enters a bit of a danger zone.
Here are the fives times that has happened –
|2010||4/7 – 5/11||31||137||18||2||10||13||8.8||21.9||.074||.172||.148||.440||13|
|2014||4/17 – 5/9||18||71||6||2||3||7||7.0||12.7||.100||.078||.100||.411||13|
|2000||4/7 – 4/27*||15||51||5||1||2||2||5.9||15.7||.083||.103||.104||.345||-21|
|2002||5/27 – 6/14||15||57||5||1||3||4||5.3||14.0||.093||.100||.175||.321||-13|
|2004||4/26 – 5/12||15||63||10||2||6||9||12.7||11.1||.151||.178||.189||.642||68|
*Ramirez returned to AAA following this particularly rough patch.
Out of the previous four times such a streak has lasted 15 games or more, Ramirez only finished one season (2004) with a wRC+ over the league average. With Ramirez’s 2014 wRC+ currently sitting at 92, he’s in danger of it happening again.
That’s why Saturday’s game was so important for him. A first inning, broken bat single to center was just what Ramirez needed. He had sported a miniscule .078 BABIP over the last 18 games and was due for a few corrections. Then, in the bottom of the third inning, Ramirez launched a solo home run into left field. With two hits in two ABs, Ramirez was breaking out of his slump. Hopefully to reclaim some of the magic he had over the season’s first fifteen games, in which he posted these obscene numbers —
Then came the top of the fourth inning. Ramirez scampered towards second to make a play only to come up limping. When the trainer approached, Ramirez just walked off the field. He was later diagnosed with a strained left hamstring.
So far this season, the Brewers have seen both the surging and struggling sides of Aramis Ramirez. After suffering through one of the more pronounced slumps of his career, Ramirez was due to turn a corner. Yet, instead of reaping the benefits, the Brewers will now have to cross their fingers and hope that his injury isn’t serious. At the end of the day, a healthy Aramis Ramirez is the version the Brewers need the most.