In the midst of a breakout season from the Milwaukee Brewers, the catcher position was largely irrelevant on the offensive end. That isn’t an oddity with a typical baseball team.
Many organizations sacrifice offense for a game manager, stronger arm, or due to a lack of offensive stalwarts. However, the Milwaukee Brewers catchers were notoriously bad with the bat last year. Milwaukee finished 23rd at the position in weighted runs created plus (wRC+), the most notable offensive statistic in baseball.
The bottom of the lineup struggled without that strong offensive presence. So what could be done about this?
Enter Wilson Ramos, the 31 year old backstop from the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies. He’s coming off an extremely productive year, putting up a wRC+ of 131 in 416 plate appearances. If Ramos was a major league team, he would have ranked first by a mile (15 points above the next highest franchise). If he qualified with enough at-bats, he would be the leader at the position offensively, five points higher than J.T. Realmuto. Yes, that J.T. Realmuto. The one the Miami Marlins are asking an arm and a leg for in trade talks.
There are issues with Ramos. He is two years removed from his second ACL surgery and is aging at a position that does not age kindly. Yet for all of the injury concerns, the former Ray still caught 96 games last season and doesn’t have nearly the same mileage that promising backstops usually accrue.
His defense isn’t the greatest. He’s not the two-way force that the Marlin’s catcher is. That’s the reason for Realmuto driving rumors while Ramos is merely along for the ride. And yet, his fielding isn’t horrid enough to drive him out of the lineup. And he’s only four years older than the Marlins backstop.
For all of those concerns, Ramos is still clearly one of the top offensive catchers in the majors. Since fixing eye issues with Lasik eye surgery he has consistently been productive on the diamond (when healthy) yet is often overlooked. He hits righties and lefties well, a necessity in the playoffs when opposing managers use countless relievers to get an advantage.
Ramos also fills one of the few gaping holes in the Brewers lineup. Trotting him out in the 6-8 spot would be a huge boost in keeping pitchers from relaxing at the back end. Yes, starting pitching is still a need for Milwaukee. Yet the organization ranked 5th in the league in earned run average (ERA) and have a crop of young pitchers poised to take the next step.
As one of the top catchers on the market, Ramos won’t come as cheap as some other options. But given the poor production last season from the Milwaukee Brewers backstops, an upgrade could be warranted.
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The 31 year old backstop could be the missing piece from solid playoff team to possible World Series contender for a squad that is ready to win now. Oh, and he will be the last person to have postseason jitters after being the protagonist in one of the oddest MLB stories this decade.