2022 Fantasy Baseball Trends: What Happened to Jose Ramirez’s OBP?

by Ryan Kirksey
2022 Fantasy Baseball Trends: Jose Ramirez

Welcome to the 2022 Fantasy Baseball Trends: What Happened to Jose Ramirez's OBP?

In this week’s 2022 Fantasy Baseball Trends column, we will look at one of the strangest trends you will ever see from an elite on-base percentage hitter.

Jose Ramirez is rightly seen as one of the premier on-base and contact hitters in our fantasy game this season, but lately, his ability to get on base in the last 30 days has fallen off a cliff.

Is there a realistic chance that Jose Ramirez will get back to the top-three fantasy player status where he was drafted before the season is over? And how high should we draft Ramirez in 2023?

This piece will look at the keystone player for the surprising Cleveland Guardians and what's causing the strange streak.

2022 Fantasy Baseball Trends: What Happened to Jose Ramirez's OBP?

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Over most of the last decade, Cleveland Guardians' third baseman Jose Ramirez has been one of the more reliable fantasy assets in any league, but particularly in on-base percentage leagues. Ramirez has three top-ten OBP finishes in the last six seasons and is averaging a .351 OBP this season.

And while that is a strong number and is just a few points off of his career OBP (.354), something has happened over the last six weeks to cause his OBP to crater from its season peak of .402 on June 15th. You read that right, Ramirez has last more 50 than 50 points of OBP in just two months. His batting average has tumbled 20 points as well, but nowhere near the drastic drop in his ability to take walks.

Through about the middle of June, Jose Ramirez was looking like the surefire first pick in all fantasy drafts for the 2023 season. He had an average over .300, 16 homers, 11 steals, 40 runs, 62 RBI, and still half a season left to play. The Guardians were riding high as a surprising playoff contender and Ramirez was generating MVP buzz.

It might surprise you to learn that since July 1, Ramirez has an OBP under .300 (.299, to be specific), has hit only six home runs, and stolen two bases. He is still driving in runs (31 over the last six weeks), primarily a result of Steven Kwan and Andres Gimenez being such strong OBP guys in front of him. But the days of him returning first-round value were left behind in the first half of the season.

Why The Sudden Collapse for Ramirez?

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If we just separate Ramirez's performance in simple first-half and second-half breaks, the splits are even more drastic. Up through June 30, Ramirez was 17th in the majors in OBP (.381). Since the beginning of July, he ranks 115th (.299). This is officially not a few game or even few week bad luck streak now. What is Ramirez doing differently to cause the collapse?

Simply put, Ramirez decided to suddenly start swinging at everything outside of the strike zone. And when I say "suddenly," I mean SUDDENLY. Look at Ramirez's rolling average of outside zone swing percentage (O-Swing%) for the season.

Towards the end of June, that rolling average jumped from 26.8% in mid-June to 40.7% by the end of the month. And he has been fighting to get back to elite levels ever since. To put that into some perspective, 26.% O-Swing% is top 30 in MLB this season while 40.7% would be 139th out of 146 qualified batters.

Better days ahead?

Fortunately, it looks like things are starting to turn back around for Ramirez as he had another spike in early August, but has just pushed the rolling average back under 30% in the last couple days.

This trend has, of course, decimated his walk rate. Ramirez walked 10.7% of the time in the first half of the season, but is about half that number (5.5%) for the second half. A 5.5% walk rate would be bottiom-15 on the year, not much higher than guys like Javier Baez (4.1%) and Maikel Franco (3.9%) who are simply allergic to taking a free base.

The movement back towards a more normal O-Swing for Ramirez is a positive sign. His career rate is just 26.6%, so if he can start living in that range again, it will be a good sign that he is back to normal?

Why did J-Ram start pressing like this? That's unclear at this time. Injury? Pressure of being linked to the MVP? Wanting to will the Guardians into a playoff spot? We may never know, but some positive signs over the last six weeks of the season will help us determine where to draft the soon-to-be 30 year old in the 2023 season.


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