It is starting to look like the 2012 season was the aberration for Alexei Ramirez.
The Chicago White Sox shortstop suffered through a down season that year. His batting average fell t0 .287 even as his RBI total increased to 73, his highest since 2008.
Many players would kill to have a down year like that. As it is, Ramirez has been above .300 every other season, and this year looks like the best of his career.
Through the first 49 games of this season, Ramirez has a .316 average and six home runs. That includes a home run hit Friday against the New York Yankees, which came off of starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.
What is it about the Ramirez renaissance? He is on track for the best season since his rookie campaign. Ramirez’s power numbers have steadily dwindled since that 21-homer season in 2008.
It got to a point last year where the Cuban defector almost ended up on the trading block a year ago. It is hard to believe the White Sox were considering a trade of Ramirez at some point last season. His power numbers dwindled considerably, and it looked like Ramirez was headed toward a high-average, low-power career.
Then came this season. Todd Steverson became the new hitting coach following time spent with the Oakland Athletics. Ramirez hasn’t credited Steverson with his renaissance, but consider Ramirez had 40 hits before May 1. He has cooled off somewhat in the hits category, with 19 hits in the first 23 days of the month, but Ramirez still has a fairly strong batting average.
Ramirez signed a four-year, $32.5 million contract prior to 2013, and he is now living up to the lofty deal. There is still much of this season and the next two years left in the contract, but Ramirez already looks like a bargain.
His power and high average are helping keep a resurgent White Sox infield afloat. The addition of Jose Abreu solidified first base in Chicago, and Gordon Beckham has had a hot bat in his first month of action at second base. The White Sox may not go anywhere in the standings this year, but Abreu and Ramirez should help the White Sox as they transition from the Paul Konerko era into one where a younger team rules the day.
In the meantime Ramirez has electrified fans who attend games at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox may be down in the standings, but they sure can be fun to watch.
Ramirez has undergone a renaissance. That’s music to Chicago’s ears.