There is only so much that Wilson Ramos can do for the Nats. He catches pitches, he does not pitch. He has one bat, not eight. His glove is made for catching fastballs, not tracking down dying quails in the outfield.
Yet, he did what he could on Tuesday night for the Nats in a 6-4 losing effort to the Mets in the first of a three-game set at Nationals Park. He hit two home runs, had an RBI single and fielded his position well when New York went small ball bunting. His 3-4 night raised his average to .378 and the dingers were his first two of the year along with the first multi-home run game of his young career.
“You hate to have a guy hit a couple homers in a losing cause but it was a good night for him. He is a good player,” Nats manager Jim Riggleman said. “You know, he has really taken to instruction real well from Pudge. He works real hard, they communicate a lot. It is real nice to see the relationship develop between those two guys. He is a special player in his own right and he is going to show you what he did tonight, you are going to see more of that.”
Coming into the night Ramos had an on-base percentage of .413, about .90 points higher than the OBP of an MLB player over the course of the season. The problem with Ramos has been that most of his hits have been singles. His slugging before the game sat at .415, which is almost exactly league average yet very low for a player batting .341 entering Tuesday.
There will be regression for Ramos. He is 23 years old in his first full MLB season. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) — a stat that measures the certain degree of luck that a player has of getting a hit when he makes contact – is a high at .467 through 41 at-bats. League average BABIP through the years is almost exactly at .300. Players will normally come within a couple standard deviations of that number and even if Ramos is one of those odd players that defies the law of BABIP though his career (some players just do), his average will come down. The hope is that his slugging percentage will go up at the same time. Wrap that up with his solid OBP and you have the makings of an All-Star catcher.
Yet, Ramos is not the Nat listed on the All-Star ballot, which was released today. Ivan Rodriguez, he of 2,824 career hits, is listed. The two catchers are splitting time for the foreseeable future but it will be hard to keep Ramos out of the lineup, especially if his power starts to blossom. That may be hard for him at this stage of his career. He is only 23 years old and his best slugging percentage as a professional ballplayer came in 2009 for the Twins Double-A club when he slugged .454.
On the pitching side of the battery for the Nats on Tuesday,Jordan Zimmermann was not on top of his game. He allowed five runs on 9 hits with one strikeout in 5.1 innings. The last two runs were inherited to Doug Slaten in the sixth with one out who allowed them on a can of corn double by Josh Thole.
“He pitched a winnable game tonight. He wasn’t at the top of his game but, you know, if something happened here or there we could have won that ball game and he comes away with a win even though he wasn’t at the top of his game,” Riggleman said.
Zimmermann is in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery and it has been mostly downs and not quite as many ups for the talented pitcher. He has electric stuff and consistently hit the radar guns at 94 to 95 miles-per-hour on Tuesday, but the Mets lit him up anyway as he dropped his season record to 1-4.
“Certainly with his place in the game and his time in the game to this point is not that much,” Riggleman said. “There is going to be some ups and downs coming off the surgery. But, he faced a hot ball club there. They came in here hot and they are still hot. They have an ice lineup when they are all healthy, they have a nice lineup.”
Jayson Werth also had a homerun to account for the Nats scoring. It was his fourth of the year.