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A shortened season makes Wilson Ramos even harder to project

The aging catcher’s expected workload is significantly lightened by a shorter schedule, but predicting his offense is as volatile as ever.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at Washington Nationals Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Back before 2020 spring training 1.0 started, I previewed Wilson Ramos’s 2020 season with the idea that we’d have normal baseball this year. One of the main points discussed in that preview was that the Mets were relying heavily on Ramos to play in as many games as he did in 2019, and the catcher’s history of injuries and his advancing age was going to make that an extremely difficult goal for him to meet.

Now, in 2020 Baseball: Attempt No. 2, the season will only be 60 games long, so the workload for Ramos is no longer a large issue. Obviously, he will still need regular days off, as 60 games in 68 days would be a tall task for any catcher, but the Mets will only have to hope Ramos can stay on the field for about two months as opposed to six. Plus, the Mets can use the DH to their advantage to keep Ramos in the lineup but give his legs a rest.

As for the rest of his outlook, not much else has changed since February. Ramos is still going to have to out-hit his defense, which is unlikely to get better, and his 2019 offensive numbers should be considered only a baseline for what’s necessary to do that.

Obviously, the volatility of a 60-game season applies to every single player this year, but Ramos has a particularly streaky bat due to his reliance on balls in play, which makes him especially hard to project. We saw this streakiness just last year, when he hit .345/.389/.480 from July 31 to the end of the season, a stretch that included a 26-game hitting streak. But we’ve also seen him completely disappear for months at a time, like from May 28 to July 30 last year, when Ramos hit just .240/.315/.367, and put up an 84 wRC+ in that timeframe. A stretch like either of those would basically encompass the entire duration of this season, and define his value to the team.

The veteran catcher’s range of outcomes in this small sample size season is about as wide as any Mets hitter. Ramos could genuinely be one of the Mets best players or one of their worst for this 60-game sprint, and it seems that both outcomes are equally likely. And whichever version of himself he is could be the difference in his $10 million option for 2021 being picked up or declined.

Nobody could blame Ramos if he wanted to opt-out of the season either, as he has a wife three young children at home, including a six-month-old infant. He mentioned that his family has stayed in Florida while he is in New York, so being apart from his family for nearly three months is going to be a difficult task, and he has admitted as much.

The 32-year-old has plenty more important things in his life than baseball at this point, but he seems as intent to play this season as anyone, having been one of the first players to return to the Mets training facility in Port St. Lucie when it re-opened. So with Ramos fully committed to the team, the team remains fully committed to Ramos behind the plate. The Mets are relying on him to stay healthy and hit well for these two months.