After going 2-3 with a double, 2 runs scored and 2 knocked in during Thursday night's 8-2 win over 1st place Cleveland, Alexei Ramirez now has a .750 OPS on the season.
That may be something to write home about in some circumstances, but probably not by the time the 4th major league season has rolled around.
"Couldn't you have just tweeted this?", Alexei's now-disaffected parents might say.
This development might be further overshadowed by the Sox' relatively
putrid start, the blinding incompetence of several positional starters,
shoddy attendance numbers, Jake Peavy's return, and this recent
three-game winning steak that has ChiSox fans pensively poking their
heads out from under their stacks of 2005 World Series DVDs to see if
the cost is clear.
No, there just doesn't seem to be any time to reflect on how the
traditionally league-average hitting shortstop is hitting slightly above
average on May 20th.
Sometimes you have to make time.
Attributing things to the weather isn't a popular practice in the
statistical community, but so rarely does a player lend themselves to a
narrative as thoroughly as Alexei has reaffirmed the "The skinny guy
from Cuba can't hit in the cold" yarn.
In terms of OPS:
The Missile had some kind of power surge in '08, but other than that,
it's pretty easy to trace his rigor mortis start to the year, followed
by a mid-summer hot steak of varying length, wrapped up with Alexei
spending the final month realizing it's hard to swing while covered
head-to-toe in heating pads.
This April, Ramirez rode 8 walks (notable, seeing as he had 18 his
entire rookie year) and 3 HR to a .701 OPS in the opening month, and has
already matched that walk total in May while continuing to show
sporadic power. As stated before, his current .750 OPS is right around
his career mark, but the elimination of his typical stumble out of the
gates has him way out ahead of every previous year of his career.
Not only is .750 the highest OPS mark Ramirez has had on any May 20th in his career, it's the only time it has even been above .600 at this date in the year. Typically by May, he's only still getting his tongue detached from the lamp post.
Given that this level of play still seems extremely Alexei Ramirez in nature, can this really be viewed as a step forward?
Other than having a slight career-high for HRs for this point of the
season, Ramirez's pop is very much in line with his norms. However he's
sporting a career-high 9% walk rate. He had a spike in free passes in
2009 that coincided with the worst-offensive season of his career....so
that's not inherently exciting.
But combined with Ramirez's history of hitting for more power as the
summer drags on, and a .278 BABIP that's bound to improve a little,
Alexei seems poised to set some new benchmarks for himself in 2011.
Better yet, this is all coming in the worst run environment in years.
Ramirez' numbers are treading water with his season totals of previous
years, but he's already at a 100 wRC+ (career-high) before Thursday
night's heroics have even been factored in.
With a roster full of veterans struggling to maintain their old levels
of production, and offense in all of baseball cycling down, Alexei's
production should be plenty enough to garner some notice. He won't have to roll around to get attention for much longer.