Harold Ramírez Is Good within the Weirdest Methods


Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports activities

In lots of elements of the sport, Harold Ramírez merely doesn’t appear like a giant leaguer. His 47.5% chase price ranks 193rd out of the 194 hitters with at the least 400 plate appearances this yr. Amongst that very same inhabitants, his line drive price ranks within the 14th percentile. Ramírez hits twice as many groundballs as fly balls and has homered in simply 2% of his plate appearances, worse than league common. As a DH, he doesn’t present worth together with his glove, and in his first two full seasons with Miami and Cleveland, he was worse than alternative degree.

Now let’s speak about how good Ramírez is. He has a number of the greatest uncooked energy within the sport, as soon as hitting a ball 114.8 mph, one thing the likes of Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and José Ramírez have by no means achieved. He avoids strikeouts at an above-average clip and may take advantage of the balls he places in play as a Sixty fourth-percentile runner. Ramírez is certainly one of simply three hitters with a batting common above .300 in every of the previous two seasons, together with Freeman and Luis Arraez.

I’ve introduced two views of Ramírez that might both make him sound like a profession minor leaguer or a fearsome offensive power. In actuality, he’s someplace within the center, with a 121 wRC+ and 1.9 WAR/600 PA since becoming a member of the Rays initially of 2022. Ramírez is a person of extremes, inserting himself both close to the highest or the underside of the league in each ability or statistical class. Many gamers show outlier offensive profiles – the aforementioned Arraez, for instance, is about to win his second consecutive batting title with simply 10 house runs. Gamers atop the batting common leaderboard usually make tradeoffs within the energy division. However in some ways, Ramírez finds a method to stand out even in comparison with the standouts. For instance, let’s have a look at the batsmen who chase as many unhealthy pitches as Ramírez. Most are below-average hitters, usually rolling over or whiffing on pitches nowhere close to the zone. However among the many free swingers who’re above-average contributors total, a standard trait they share is sweet energy, as hitters with low OBPs need to take advantage of the nice pitches they put in play to be productive:

Above-Common Chasers

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Of this group, Ramírez is the one participant whose remoted energy is worse than the league common of .166, but he ranks third in wRC+ among the many bunch. What he lacks in energy among the many massive chasers he makes up for in his skill to hit for common. Josh Naylor and Bo Bichette are the one different hitters within the desk batting above .300; the following closest is Ezequiel Duran’s .277. Most gamers atop the batting common leaderboard comply with the same formulation to rack up hits, persistently smashing line drives and low fly balls that drop within the outfield earlier than a fielder can catch it. However Ramírez once more stands out subsequent to his friends within the .300 membership:

Traits of .300 Hitters

Title Common Line Drive Percentile Candy Spot Percentile LD Percentile + SS Percentile
Luis Arraez .353 100 99 199
Freddie Freeman .332 99 100 199
Mookie Betts .309 90 97 187
Bo Bichette .303 98 62 160
Corey Seager .331 65 91 156
Josh Naylor .307 51 63 114
Cody Bellinger .305 27 85 112
Ronald Acuña Jr. .336 54 49 103
Shohei Ohtani .304 23 62 85
Yandy Díaz .328 42 15 57
Harold Ramírez .308 14 4 18

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Most batting title contenders are elite at hitting the ball on a line. Others are fairly good, and even Ronald Acuña Jr. and Shohei Ohtani make up for middling candy spot charges with monumental house run totals, balls that outfielders have zero likelihood of catching. Ramírez is a mile beneath everybody else right here, with abysmal line drive and candy spot charges. So how does he hit .300 regardless of all these components working in opposition to him? It’s been noticed that he imparts extra backspin on fly balls than common, permitting the ball to hold farther than different hits of the same launch angle and exit velocity, although with out batted ball spin information, it’s inconceivable to quantify precisely how a lot this impacts his efficiency. However Ramírez doesn’t set himself aside from others together with his fly balls; somewhat, it’s the balls that keep on the bottom the place he actually outperforms his competitors:

wOBA by Batted Ball Sort

Groundballs Line Drives Fly Balls
Harold Ramírez .318 .677 .388
League .243 .695 .368

Ramírez’s numbers on line drives and fly balls look so much like the remainder of the league’s, however he has the fifth-highest wOBA on groundballs. Getting roughly league common manufacturing on the worst sort of batted ball is sort of spectacular, but essential for somebody who hits grounders over half the time. His lack of aerial contact explains the massive discrepancy between his uncooked and in-game energy; it’s why somebody who can hit the ball as much as 115 mph depends on singles to make a dwelling. However not all grounders are created equal. Softly-hit groundballs are a catastrophe for hitters, simple to deal with by infielders. However batted ball outcomes on hard-hit grounders scale up quickly with exit velocity beginning at across the 95 mph mark:

The typical hitter hits about 34% of their grounders above 95 mph, however Ramírez has reached that benchmark on 71 of his 172 floor balls, good for a 41% hard-hit price. He’s amassed a wOBA of .408 on these hard-hit grounders, roughly the identical because the full-season efficiency of Freeman or Matt Olson. Even on the softly-hit groundballs, although, Ramírez has outperformed the abysmal outcomes of his massive league friends. Over the previous two seasons, his 38 infield hits rank tenth within the league, comprising over 11% of his complete hits. For somebody of his stature (5-foot-10, 232 kilos), Ramírez completely books it down the road; his 4.36 second home-to-first time places him in firm of AL stolen base chief Esteury Ruiz and forward of Marcus Semien and Xander Bogaerts, who rank above him on the infield hit leaderboard. His 27.9 ft/sec dash pace is the most effective amongst designated hitters, narrowly edging out Ohtani.

One other attribute of Ramírez’s sport that enables him to succeed regardless of not lifting the ball is his skill to crush pitches on the prime of the zone, particularly four-seam fastballs. As a hitter with out a lot pure loft to his swing, he’s amassed a run worth of -6 in opposition to sinkers and changeups, which he’s merely pounded into the bottom for outs. Alternatively, his shorter and extra downward swing permits him to get to excessive fastballs, a standard weak spot for a lot of different hitters.

To quantify hitters’ preferences for hitting one sort of fastball over one other, I regarded on the distinction between Statcast run values versus four-seamers and sinkers over the previous two seasons, normalizing every participant’s distinction to the variety of pitches they’ve seen. The hitter with the best choice for four-seamers is Chas McCormick, who ranks second to Aaron Decide in fastball run worth, however is beneath common in opposition to sinkers. Ramírez ranks within the 91st percentile on this stat. On the alternative finish of the spectrum, the hitters with the best proclivity for sinkers embody Cal Raleigh and Cody Bellinger, whose longer swings can carry low sinkers for homers however usually wrestle to catch as much as excessive warmth. Ramírez has been price +10 runs on four-seamers this yr due to his glorious injury price on elevated pitches:

Ramírez has reached 350 plate appearances in every of his 4 full seasons, however has by no means certified for the batting title as an on a regular basis participant. The Rays, all the time artful with their lineups, have given him about 100 begins per yr with a very good variety of alternatives off the bench as nicely. Whereas he’s a stable total hitter, Ramírez completely crushes lefties – hitting .368/.408/.498 in opposition to southpaws since becoming a member of the Rays. He’s gotten the nod in almost each matchup in opposition to a left-handed starter, however even when he’s been benched because of an unfavorable matchup, he has discovered methods to contribute. Ramírez has 43 pinch-hit appearances prior to now two seasons, eighth most in baseball and most on the Rays. In these alternatives, he’s hit .500 with an 1.110 OPS, highest within the majors of any common pinch-hitter. It needs to be famous that line comes with a .559 BABIP; he received’t pinch-hit this nicely for the remainder of his profession, however within the conditions the place the crew can deploy him greatest, Ramírez has thrived.

Regardless of having simply three certified hitters, the Rays are about to enter the playoffs with the most effective offense within the AL and by far the strongest in franchise historical past. Nonetheless far they go this October, Ramírez will likely be part of it, both as a beginning DH or lefty-mashing substitute. And in a league the place seemingly everybody possesses outlier expertise or skills, Ramírez has managed to succeed regardless of doing up to now in another way than anybody else.

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