I covered both of Wilson Ramos’s season previews in 2020, both for the original adaptation of the season and the truncated, ad-libbed version of this season, and both times I made the same judgement on Ramos: that he was going to have to outhit his defense. Given just how bad his defense is, he was going to hit probably 10 or 20 percent better than league average in order to have real value to the team.
I also opined that, with his offensive inconsistencies in his career and his tendency to hit the ball on the ground, his offensive profile was a risky one with precipitous downside. And through the first 25 games of the season, we have seen just how precipitous that downside can be.
Ramos currently sports just a .204/.280/.294 line and a 66 wRC+ through 75 plate appearances. Of course, 75 PAs would be almost nothing in a normal season, but we are already 42% of the way through this shortened season. It’s not like Ramos has been hitting into particularly bad luck either. He’s striking out at a 20% clip, a jump from his career 16.5% strikeout rate, and he’s not hitting the ball as hard as he usually does; his average exit velocity is just 87.6 MPH, which would be his lowest mark since 2017.
Believe it or not, his average launch angle is actually at 8.4 degrees, which would be the highest mark of his career by a significant margin, and much higher than his -0.1 average launch angle from last year. Even though it’s most likely statistical noise, Ramos hitting the ball in the air more feels like it should be a positive, because someone with his body type should probably hit the ball in the air more than he does. The problem is that he’s not hitting it in the air with any sort of authority.
Obviously, 75 plate appearances is far too small of a sample to be really digging into the nitty-gritty of his numbers and trying to reach any conclusion. But the point is that there aren’t a lot of signs of hope here that a turnaround is imminent. Given that Ramos already gives you nothing on defense—as we saw last Friday when his inability to to reach down and place a proper tag allowed the winning run to score—how long of a leash can they give him?
With the expanded playoffs this year and a weak NL East, the Mets still have a chance to make a run at the postseason. They don’t really have time to wait around to see if the 33-year-old’s numbers offensive numbers stabilize with more playing time. They need to decide if it’s worth letting Ramos figure it out, or if they should cut their losses and go with the surprisingly effective Tomas Nido as their primary catcher going forward, who’s had a hot start to his season.
Plus, Ramos is not under a guaranteed contract for 2021, and his $9.5 million team option is probably not going to be picked up. So if the team falls completely out of the race, they may owe it to themselves to see just how legit Nido’s offensive gains are before going into next season.