There are few things less exciting during fantasy baseball draft prep than conservative projections and catchers. But, in the case of Wilson Ramos, the projections are flawed and you have to draft a catcher after all, right? Let’s dig in.
Coming off a difficult knee injury toward the end of the 2016 season, The Buffalo was limited to 224 plate appearances in 2017. His breakout 2016 season with the Nationals was questioned by some: what does the real Wilson Ramos look like? After signing with the Mets this off-season, they and your fantasy team should be confident that the real Wilson Ramos is a top 5 fantasy catcher that should could carry immense draft day value if you can get him after pick 175.
Will he sustain a .353 BABIP from a year ago? Absolutely not. However, Ramos hits enough ground balls to expect a slightly elevated BABIP that will correlate with a decent batting average. He finished 7th among catchers in Hard Hit % from a year ago, which does not scream elite production. But, the unique combination of a hitter who pulls the ball just 40% of the time and strikes out about 18% elevates that high floor provided by his ability to make solid contact.
I don’t see a lot of batting average risk with Ramos even with an expected regression of BABIP. He does not walk a ton, but should take on a run producing role in the Mets offense which will provide some upside. The true upside can be unlocked for The Buffalo if his FB% jumped back over the 26% mark which would provide for 20+ HR in 2019. Look for a 60/20/80 with a slashline of .280/.335/.475 from Ramos.
I would still call those projections somewhat conservative considering his last 3 year average has resulted in .298/.343/.483 with 120 wRC+. The relative obscurity from which he came into the 2016 season and the missed at bats that followed keep projections for Ramos from outlets such as Steamers down. But, if you look at the Wilson Ramos of the past 3 seasons, this is a capable hitter who can do damage.
He does not have the most upside at his position, but outside of Realmuto, there may not be a higher floor for any catcher based on the batted ball data. Durability is an issue, but that argument can be made against most players at this taxing position. All of you Buster Posey owners from a year ago understand this.
I rank Ramos 5th among catchers for 2019. However, based on the price I think I’d have to pay on draft day, I will probably end up with a lot more shares of Ramos than the pricier Posey and Contreras. Still not convinced? Projections, and subsequent draft rankings, crush guys like Ramos for varying plate appearance totals. However, catcher, of all positions, is the position in most standard leagues where replacements are readily available.
We need to stop rewarding guys like Molina and Salvy Perez for just showing up. Yes, their numbers tend to look as we expect them to by year’s end. But, particularly in a Head to Head Categories leagues, 385 plate appearances of Ramos combined with 150 replacement plate appearances from a free agent in a 12 team standard mixed league will outperform both Molina and Perez in my view. If you were to get 475 plate appearances from Ramos alone, you have a clear advantage at Catcher over 2/3 of the starting catchers in your fantasy league.
At a position that elicits little excitement, take a calculated risk. Draft Wilson Ramos as the 7th or 8th catcher off the board and you could very well own an asset at Catcher, not just a placeholder.