Alexei's good(?) year at the plate

Alexei's good(?) year at the plate
Probably a really important moment // Tribune Photo

Don't be fooled by the headline, or the later conclusion of this article; Alexei Ramirez is having a horrible year at the plate.  Just horrible.

I had all but given up on the idea that there would be a 'breakout' season, and grown to completely accept and love the 'league-average bat with an incredible glove' combo he provided, but even that's gone.

Alexei's scrapped any semblance of a patient approach, and has yet crack the 20-walks plateau at the end of August.  But the increased aggressiveness hasn't brought anymore contact, or power.  In fact, it's brought less of it.  Barring a huge spurt, he's going to set career lows in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, home runs, walks, and runs scored.

Yet for RBI, he's got 60 on the year, and is on pace for 75, which would fall just two short of his career-high.

We know RBI are pretty close to meaningless for assessing hitters, though.  Stick an average hitter in a great lineup, he'll knock in plenty.  Stick a great hitter in a poor lineup--for example, Paul Konerko at the beginning of the season when he was hitting .400 and everyone else was half-dead--and you'll get meager RBI totals (Konerko also has 60).

But Alexei isn't profiting off of playing with the '27 Yankees.  He's not getting more opportunities than usual (the Sox are around average for all their rate stats, and are especially not special at getting on base), he's just absolutely nailing the opportunities to knock in runs he does get.  In 120 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, Alexei Ramirez is hitting .355/.381/.476, for 46 RBI.

.355/.381/.476 !!!

That's the breakout season we dreamed of, and then a fair bit more.  But, this doesn't validate RBI either.  We have no reason to believe Alexei Ramirez is especially capable of turning it on during run-scoring situations, certainly not to this absurd degree.  He may not even keep it up any farther than last night's 1st inning two-run single, since even his current success with runners in scoring position is dependent on an unsustainable .385 average on balls in play.  He's getting more or less lucky, or to put in a less dismissive terminology--he's succeeding in a fashion that he won't be able to for long.

Does it matter, though?

The runs Alexei have produced are in the bank.  It's the end of the August, and he's been succeeding like this for nearly the whole season.  He can't continue much longer like this, because not being a good hitter would eventually catch up with him, but how concerned about sustainability are the White Sox, ever?  The roster is still built with an emphasis on succeeding before most of these guys get old, "win now" may well be scrawled on Kenny Williams' bathroom mirror, and it's the way the White Sox as a whole have been succeeding all year.

Overall, the White Sox rate out as average at best offensively, but are 5th in the AL in runs scored because absolutely no one is better than them with runners in scoring position - .291/.357/.464.

Alexei could render this all moot by simply snapping out of his season-long funk and returning to his career-levels as a hitter, but even if he doesn't, his flaws this season have been covered up somewhat by the same thing propping up this wonderful season....timing.  And with the White  Sox where they are, with just a month left, how really concerned are we about the long-term implications?

 

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