Ramirez turned 35 in June of this year and unfortunately he showed his age with a lack of durability. He missed a chunk of spring training with a knee injury, appeared in just four games before reinjuring the knee in April, went back on the DL in July and it was widely accepted that he was playing at less than 100% even when he wasn't on the shelf.
Despite missing large chunks of time and playing before he was fully healed, Ramirez was pretty effective at the plate in 2013. His .283/.370/.461 batting line was low for him but was still well above the NL average for third basemen (.258/.324/.404). He had 21 multi-hit games in 92 contests, and his 49 RBI were tied for the third most on the team.
If the Brewers are going to compete in 2014 they likely need Ramirez to have a bounce-back year, but history may not be on their side there. A few weeks ago I mentioned that Ramirez's top B-Ref comp is Carlos Lee, whose career was more or less over at this age. His top ten list shows some others who were shells of their former selves at this point: Matt Williams, Ernie Banks and Andre Dawson. There are some reasons for hope, though: Carlos Beltran is also on that list and is having a great year as a 36-year-old with the Cardinals. So is Paul Konerko, who was an AL All Star as a 36-year-old in 2012.
2014 will also be a big year for Ramirez financially. A return to form could lead to the Brewers exercising his 2015 option or allow him to cash in as a free agent next winter. If he struggles to stay healthy again or his performance declines, though, then he may be nearing the end of the road.
Ramirez has already had a great MLB career: 16 seasons, 2045 hits, 354 home runs (the ninth most ever for a third baseman), 1276 RBI and three playoff appearances. Now all we can do is sit back and see how long he can stretch it out.
Ramirez only appeared in slightly more than half of the Brewers' games in 2013, but he still had several somewhat remarkable performances. He hit a go-ahead double in the Brewers' Opening Day win, and drove in all six Brewer runs with a pair of homers against the Cardinals on May 17.
His only four-hit game of the season, though, came against the Pirates on August 27. All four hits were important as the Brewers edged out a 7-6 win. Here are the highlights:
As mentioned above, 2014 is the last season of the three-year, $36 million contract Ramirez signed before the 2012 season. It's also easily the most expensive at $16 million, but $6 million of that figure is deferred. Ramirez also has a club option for 2015, which the Brewers will either have to exercise or pay $4 million to decline.
Previous MVBrewers posts can be seen at the links below: