March 27, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez (10) get hit with the pitch and left the game in the second inning during a spring training game against the Cleveland Indians at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Alexei Ramirez’s status as a warm-weather hitter


You never get a second chance to make a first impression, according to Head & Shoulders’ commercials from the 80′s. And in Alexei Ramirez’s first three years on the south side, he established a few popular ideas about his identity that will be hard to shake.

  1. Swings at everything (Cue ‘Can’t walk off the island’ jokes)
  2. Not the most physically confrontational guy around
  3. Warm-weather hitter

All of them seem like stereotypes, but the last one was so ingrained in statistics that event the most sober statistical analysts had to wonder what the hell happened to Alexei Ramirez’s swing in sub-50 degree weather. From 2008 through 2010, Ramirez did this (AVG/OBP/SLG):

  • March/April: .200/.229/.278
  • May: .285/.322/.418
  • June: .305/.348/.474
  • July: .331/.347/.498
  • August: .291/.313/.471
  • September: .256/.317/.385

Getting through impotent early weeks was made easier knowing a middle-of-the-order masher would be around come July. And when he started out 2011 like this:

  • March/April: .265/.318/.382
  • May: .313/.380/.513

People rightfully got very, very excited. Ramirez followed it up with three-straight sub-.700 OPS months, including a season-worst .220/.309/.317 month of July and a mild recovery in the chill of September just to be as against type as possible. What to do with such a season? He produced a nearly identical season line, but went against all notions of warm-weather dependence.

Then things got complicated.

2012 brought a return of summer-month peaks for Ramirez, but it’s hard to couch a complete collapse of Ramirez’s offensive abilities alongside his typical tendencies. May was a trainwreck one year after it was the best stretch of his career and his power didn’t arrive till the second half of the season.

  • March/April: .207/.233/.264
  • May: .245/.263/.318
  • June: .292/.314/.365
  • July: .323/.344/.462
  • August: .290/.321/.480
  • September: .234/.248/.299

Ramirez himself even tried to pin last season’s struggles on a lingering sore wrist, stemming from his July 27 collision with Alejandro De Aza. But while he struggled in the immediate days after returning, August was one of the best months of his season. For the past two years, Alexei has slipped into a far more normal pattern of not having a set pattern, rather than being a would-be All Star who can’t handle the chill.

At age 31, decline obscures every notion of Ramirez’s offensive behavior. Any comfort taken in his odd patterns is likely misplaced as we enter a stretch of uncertainty for how Alexei’s bat will be able to hold up through the life of his contract (through 2015). Chances are a player with four years of average production and one season in the dumps is likely to return to the former, but we’re entering new territory as far as Ramirez’s tendencies, for better and for worse.

 

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

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