Key Stats: Someone has to play shortstop. The deeper the league, the more value Alexei Ramirez will have. Stats wise, he probably doesn’t belong in the top 200, but among his peers at shortstop he does. There wasn’t any real significant change in his production last year from his first in the Majors. The home runs went down by 6, but his fly ball rate increased so don’t put much stock in that. The combination of a little power with a little steals is sufficient when Derek Jeter, Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins, and Ben Zobrist are all taken at least forty picks before with the ability to hit more dingers and record more thefts.
Skeptics Say: Omar Vizquel was signed recently and he plays one position, and plays that position really well. Obviously Vizquel is not an everyday option at this point in his career, but with Gordon Beckham sliding over to second base, when Vizquel does play (and he will if he’s on the roster), Alexei will either sit or play in unfamiliar territory. I don’t foresee the White Sox starting Alexei over Beckham at second base because Beckham was the better offensive player last year and will only get better.
Peer Comparison: If the names listed in key stats are names to pass on because of other opportunities in a draft there will be a choice among what might be called the third tier at shortstop. Those players would include Alexei, Yunel Escobar, Stephen Drew, Jason Bartlett, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Marco Scutaro.
Alexei vs. Escobar: If Escobar was asked to play the roll of Harry in Home Alone for twice the amount of money he makes now, he couldn’t do it. The guy can’t even act like he’s a steals threat. Consider all the roto leagues that get decided by an increase of 9 steals before writing off that both players won’t really do anything to the bottom line in steals compared to Jose Reyes or Jacoby Ellsbury.
Alexei vs. Drew: You ever have those kids growing up that your mother forced you to hang out with becaues they had no friends? Watching the emotion that the Drew brothers play with and given the results they give from a fantasy perspective, I think the Drews need to thank their friends’ mothers for giving them the self-esteem to get where they are today. Drew is only going to be 27 on Opening Day, but his career highs of 21 home runs and 9 steals aren’t better than Alexei’s.
Alexei vs. Bartlett: Perhaps Bartlett will ride his 2009 Chumbawamba season to a better average draft position than Alexei, but he shouldn’t. Alexei has had two straight seasons with similar finishes at the end. Bartlett has had one good season from seemingly nowhere.
Alexei vs. Asdrubal: It sounds more like a Mortal Combat fight than a comparison between shortstops. Unlike Escobar above, Asdrubal can match Alexei steal for steal. He can’t match him home run for home run though.
Alexei vs. Scutaro: The likelihood of Scutaro hitting leadoff again after coming off of a season with a .379 on base percentage is pretty good. The likelihood of Scutaro finishing with an on base percentage of .379 again is not good since it was the highest of his career by 29 points. When 33 year olds have sesaons like that, it’s rare that they continue to trend upward.
Lineup Outlook: Last season the preseason hype was a little too high for Alexei. In Mock Draft Central he was going 48th on average as of early February. As that link details, most people incorrectly assumed that Alexei would bat first when Orlando Cabrera departed, but that never happened. He didn’t get one at-bat as the lead off hitter. The big knock on Alexei as a potential leadoff hitter heading into last season was his walk rate (3.6%) in 2008. He more than doubled that last year while actually decreasing his strikeouts. With the departure of Scott Podsednik, the year everyone was waiting for last year might happen this year – if Alexei continues to improve his plate discipline in year three.
Projection: Happy Thanksgiving – I’m thankful for all my readers!
77R 20 HR 70 RBI 15 SB .289 AVG .755 OPS
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