Alexei Ramirez: Best Defensive SS in Baseball
When the White Sox first signed Alexei Ramirez, Ozzie Guillen was insistent that he could one day be the best defensive shortstop in baseball. After his rookie season, that looked like a laughable overestimation of Ramirez’s fielding ability. Playing mostly at second base, but a little in center field and shortstop, Ramirez posted across the board bad numbers. An overall UZR of -10.3, and a negative rating at all three positions.
Last year Ramirez moved to shortstop full time, and rated out very well. A UZR of 3.1, +2 according to DRS, his only issue being the frequent lapses in concentration. Those led to unnecessary errors on the most routine of plays, which was frustrating given Alexei’s ability to make a ton of spectacular plays.
This year though, it has all come together, and Ozzie looks real smart. Ramirez leads all shortstops in UZR, at 12.4, he’s third in DRS at +20, and should be in the running for a Gold Glove (don’t get your hopes up though, voters probably have no clue who Alexei Ramirez is).
Yet another statistical example of Ramirez’s stellar defense comes from Peter Gammons, who tweeted over the weekend that one team’s internal defensive metrics rank Ramirez number one “far and away”. Those internal statistics may very well be based off the mysterious Field F/X, which is beginning to make its way around baseball.
Alexei will never be that great a hitter, he’s been above league average once in three seasons, but that hardly matters when he plays the defense he does. He’s going to be a 3-3.5 WAR player this season, and it looks like he has locked down the shortstop position for quite a few years. Even when his price tag goes up, as long as he can keep his defense at this high a level, he will be more than worth his salary. It’s really nice to see him finally fulfill his vast defensive potential.