Wilson Ramos is back in the lineup and hoping to prove he can be the durable catcher the Nationals are looking for.
“My hand feels good,” said Ramos, who broke a bone in his wrist on opening day and spent time on the disabled list for a third consecutive year. “I was worried that with surgery I would lose power, but I haven’t felt that. The power is still there, the swing is still there.”
In the five games he’s appeared in since returning from his injury earlier this month, Ramos has batted just .188 with a double, an RBI, three walks and two runs scored.
Despite the struggles in the first couple weeks back, Ramos will be key if the Nationals are going to make a postseason run this year.
Here are three reasons why:
1. Proven Power
After missing the last half of May and all of June in 2013, Ramos came back with a vengeance, hitting 14 homers and batting .276 in the final three months of the season. “The lingering effect with this injury is generally some wrist soreness,” manager Matt Williams said. “So that may occur over the course of time, and we’ll adjust to that.” Entering Thursday, the Nationals were 12th in baseball in slugging percentage at .396. If Ramos can overcome the soreness, he could lift this group into the top 10.
2. Patience at the Plate
Though considered a power hitter, Ramos demonstrates plenty of patience during his at-bats. Last season, he struck out in only 14 percent of his plate appearances (42 out of 303). Of Washington’s returning starters, only Denard Span (striking out 12 percent of the time) posted a better ratio of strikeouts to plate appearances in 2013. In 78 games played last season, Ramos also drove in 59 RBIs, good for fifth-best on the team — one more than Bryce Harper’s 58 in 118 games.
3. Reliable in Lineup
Williams has tinkered with his lineup quite a bit this season, moving guys all around depending on matchups with certain pitchers the Nationals face. But with Ramos, it’s been fairly consistent. In the six games he’s played in, Ramos has hit cleanup or in the five-hole, indicating the comfort level Williams has with his catcher. If Ramos can produce in this role, then the Nationals could get a more consistent output offensively.