Wilson Ramos was likely the Mets’ third choice when it came to importing a starting catcher prior to the 2019 season. But he was still an improvement over what the Mets had the previous year behind the plate. There were concerns about his durability and his overall defensive play, even if he was expected to be better than what they had in controlling the running game. Yet Ramos played in a career-high 141 games. And he was worse than advertised defensively. In a word not tossed around lightly, he looked lazy behind the plate and was just as bad as his predecessors in bouncing throws to second base on steal attempts.
Even his offense wasn’t as good as it was previously. However, he seemed to do a good job getting runners home and Ramos did have a 26-game hitting streak late in the year. Overall, he finished with a 107 OPS+. For comparison sake, the Mets’ catchers in 2018 had an 80 OPS+ – so he certainly was an upgrade.
Yet the biggest story surrounding Ramos last year was how both Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard expressed a preference for someone else to be behind the plate for their starts. Ramos and deGrom seemed to work out whatever the problem was and deGrom finished the year on fire, earning his second straight Cy Young Award. Syndergaard showed some improvement in his results with Ramos, too, but nowhere near the extent that deGrom did.
The Mets didn’t make things any better, as they insisted that they would not tolerate pitchers having personal catchers. Ordinarily, my reaction on the Mets’ stance would be – Good, you don’t let the tail wag the dog. But in this case, if a pitcher has an ERA of two fewer runs with a specific catcher, over the span of two seasons no less, then maybe you should make an exception.
For his part, Ramos took the high road throughout the season. And he came to camp prepared with a new defensive approach, one where he would plant one knee on the ground, in an effort to get the low strikes that pitchers crave. You could not craft a better response from a successful veteran and Ramos deserves credit for how he’s handled this situation.
But at the end of the day, Ramos is in the lineup for his offense more so than his defense. So, let’s see what the computer models projected him to hit:
ATC – 459 PA, .276/.332/.426, 15 HR, 64 RBIs
Steamer – 401 PA, .274/.333/.448, 15 HR, 53 RBIs
THE BAT – 422 PA, .266/.322/.407, 13 HR, 49 RBIs
ZiPS – 460 PA, .273/.328/.418, 14 HR, 68 RBIs
We see some variation in projected playing time and in SLG, too. Steamer actually forecasts Ramos with a .781 OPS, higher than he did in 2019, which would be nice to see. THE BAT is on the other side of things, with a .729 OPS, compared to last year’s .767 mark. None of the four models see him coming close to last year’s 524 PA.
Without either a great backup catcher or any reason to be cautious with a free agent on his last guaranteed season, my expectation is that the Mets will push Ramos to play nearly as much as he did in 2019. Here’s my forecast with an assumed 162-game season:
You’ll have more credibility if you chime in now with what you think Ramos will do this year. Next up to undergo the forecast microscope will be Dellin Betances.