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2018 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Jose Ramirez

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A really bad six innings gave way to a season-ending injury.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

For some reason, there’s one moment of Opening Day that I remember with clarity. Specifically, it was a disagreement I had with someone in the Game Thread. A very futile disagreement: whether Rex Brothers was the worst reliever the Braves had (I disagreed), or whether it was someone else, namely, Jose Ramirez. After Opening Day, we already knew the extent of Brothers’ “contribution” to the 2018 Atlanta Braves season (he came in and walked two guys). What we didn’t know (since Ramirez didn’t appear in the Opening Day game), however, was how bad Jose Ramirez would be in his not-quite-as-short-but-still-short 2018 tenure.

Ramirez appeared in seven games for the Braves towards the beginning of the year. Three of those outings were perfectly fine — scoreless stints totaling 11 batters, over which Ramirez did not allow any walks nor any runs. The other four outings, though... oh boy. 27 batters faced, of which 16 reached base. A BB/K ratio of 8/5. It was... bad. Here are various gruesome stats about his total seasonal line, inclusive of those perfectly fine outings:

  • 17.05 ERA
  • 5.69 FIP
  • 7.77 xFIP
  • 8/7 K/BB ratio
  • -0.1 fWAR (Brothers finished at 0.0, ha!)
  • -0.95 WPA (which, in so few outings, is kind of impressive; Brothers finished at -0.1, ha!)

So, you know, in the words of Officer Peralta: cool, cool, cool, cool, cool. Except, you know, not.

Of course, the real question is why anyone expected anything different. With this season being no exception, Ramirez has never finished a calendar year with an xFIP below 5.00. He’s never finished a calendar year with a single-digit walk rate. He’s issued more walks than strikeouts in two of his five major league seasons, and in the other three, his separation between those two rates did not increase above 10.5%. Basically, by employing Jose Ramirez, the Braves were being Quentyn Martell, and they, predictably, got burned.

For what it’s worth, at least Ramirez didn’t finish with the team’s lowest WPA among pitchers, as Sam Freeman takes home that dubious honor. Still, Sam Freeman had like five dozen appearances over which to accrue that negative WPA; Jose Ramirez had seven. Again, see “cool, cool, cool, cool, cool” above.

Jose Ramirez hit the Disabled List in mid-April with shoulder tightness. That malady persisted all season, and he did not appear in another major league game, though he did make one rehab appearance with Triple-A Gwinnett in September.

Bottom line, what did he do in 2018? Self-immolated four times while posting a walk rate north of 22%. Just imagine how high the Braves’ walk rate would have been had Ramirez not spent most of the year on the shelf, and the Braves kept using him in games. It’s scary.

Will Ramirez be on the roster next year? Ramirez is eligible for arbitration for the first time in 2019. MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn $700,000 as a 2019 salary. The real question is why the Braves would be interested in continuing to employ a guy with a career 117 ERA-, 119 FIP-, and 133 xFIP- in over 115 career innings, but that’s not a question I have an answer for. Reference once again to the wise words of Officer Peralta.

What is he going to do next year? Probably post another xFIP above 5.00. Hopefully for someone else. I do hope he’s healthy, though! Shoulder injuries are the worst.

Highlight of 2018: Back on April 11, Ramirez fired a 1-2-3 frame in extra innings. He retired Ryan Zimmerman and Trea Turner on balls in play, and struck out Moises Sierra. That kept the game tied, and while it took 12 innings, the Braves eventually prevailed.

Lowlight of 2018: His performance in the typhoon game at Wrigley Field. I don’t really want to talk about it, but he had five runs charged to him while getting just one out. Even if you don’t want to blame that on him, his next outing wasn’t any better: in the tenth inning, he allowed four runs (three hits, three walks) to sink the Braves against the Phillies. He was never seen again.