Wilson Ramos has often been a polarizing figure among Mets fans this season. An offseason deal of two years $19 million was praised across baseball as a great deal for a free agent catcher who led the league in wRC+ the previous year. While not their first pick for the position, it appeared to be a move that locked down a position that has been a problem for the Mets (and for many teams) the past few seasons. There were; however, some difficult memories to overcome from Ramos’ tenure as a division-rival Washington National.
Ramos indeed did beat up on the Mets during his time in Washington and from his brief stint in Philadelphia at the end of last season. His 12 home runs and 63 RBI against the club are his career best against any team. He used to make Hansel Robles point his finger to the sky signaling an extra base hit. After eight seasons in the division fans learn to detest a player.
These initial thoughts were combined with early season struggles and poor defensive skills. His arm was not as-advertised, his framing was considered atrocious, and he was even benched for Tomas Nido for these defensive deficiencies. The catcher of choice for the team’s two best starters was not the $19 million man but a man with a career split of .194/.225/.294 in the majors. Ramos could not have been more understanding, saying the following about the reduction in playing time: “This is the first time it happened in my career when I am healthy, but like I say every single time: I respect the decision the manager makes when he makes the lineup. I have to follow the rules. I am that kind of player. I don’t have to go to the office every single time and say, ‘I want to play.’ I like to go one time and if they want to do what I say, perfect. If they don’t, I will always respect the decision the manager makes.”
What an amazing team attitude shown by the veteran. This was back in early July near the valley of the Mets’ season.
The offensive struggles went away pretty soon (he hit for an .843 OPS in May) despite hanging views caused by the over analysis of early season numbers. The defensive troubles remain. Still he has allowed 79 SB, but the passed balls have decreased. His pitch framing and game calling has improved tremendously as evident from the comments of Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. The later of the two was originally adamant about pitching to Nido instead, but after a productive start last month had this to say of Ramos: “I just trusted the fingers he put down. I really trust his judgment when it comes to those hitters coming up to the plate.”
When confidence grew in catching, the bat went from normal to incredible. His 26-game hit streak ties him for second on the all-time Mets mark. David Wright hit 26 across 2006 and 2007, and then Moses Alou set the club record at the end of that 2007 season with 30.
These were not unknown waters for Ramos, as this is actually the third time in his career he has led the National League in a hit streak. We learned in yesterday’s broadcast by the National’s color F.P. Santangelo that Ramos was not aware during the first of his streaks, back in 2015, what the major league record was. He certainly was surprised to hear of Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hit streak. While this streak failed to even reach the halfway point it is still impressive in itself, and perhaps what is more important is that it has propped up a Mets offense during a critical stretch. Not only did he hit in 26 games, he also slashed .430/.452/.590 and even extended the streak three times as a pinch hitter.
Now how does this impact the team going forward? His signing now shines positivity on the previous offseason and gives the team confidence at the position for next year. What perhaps is more important for this stretch run is the full fan acceptance of Ramos as one of our own. Now he is remembered for hitting as a Met and not against us. The Buffalo fist bump is finally celebrated and loved. Most of us were hanging on to the game yesterday not because we wanted to see if the Mets would collapse yet again in the ninth inning, but if Ramos could squeeze out a base hit to extend his magical run. While he ended a step short, the streak as a whole gave the team a big step forward as they look to the future.