Since Wilson Ramos returned from the disabled list following a hamstring strain on June 26, he is hitting the ball well, among the best on the Nationals. He has a .321 (27 for 84) average with 12 RBI in 22 games. But one thing is lacking from his offense, and not just simply during the recent hot stretch: home runs.
In those 22 games, Ramos has hit only two home runs. On the season, he has only three home runs and eight doubles over 46 games. That’s one home run every 58.7 at-bats. Last season, he mashed 16 home runs over 78 games, good for one shot every 17.9 at-bats, one of the best rates in baseball.
The lack of power this season is understable. Ramos missed 32 games at the start of the season following hamate bone surgery. It takes time for hand strength to return. But it’s been nearly three months and 45 games since he returned from the hand injury, and even Ramos is wondering where his power went.
“It’s something I don’t know how to explain it,” he said before Thursday’s game. “My hand feels great. I don’t feel any pain or anything bad when I’m batting. I still feel the same strength. I don’t know why the home runs haven’t come.”
During batting practice, Ramos still hits home runs like normal, towering shots to left and center field. His hand and strength feel the same.
“It’s like any injury,” he said. “After knee surgery, I was scared about catching and crouching down. But once I did, it wasn’t a problem. It may be similar with the hand. I thought it was going to bother me. But it’s not bothering me.”
Loss of power is a common complaint of players after hamate bone surgery. Ramos feared that would happen to him when he returned and it has. Manager Matt Williams believes it will take longer than simply this season for Ramos to hit for power like he did pre-injury.
“It will come,” he said earlier this week. “It’s strength. Anytime you open a body up and take something out of it, there’s a healing process and that’s about a year. Regardless. The strength has to come back. He has to get through the rest of this season and get to the offseason and next spring training be fully back. It’s an everyday process for him to continue to strengthen. The power will be there. Who knows when that will be there. I’m not concerned about that right now. I’m concerned about his health and him getting base hits. He’s done really well with runners in scoring position. That’s what matters to us.”
Ramos leads the team with a .310 average (13 for 42) with runners in scoring position, and has hit the ball well up the middle over the past month. Given Ramos’s track record as a power hitter, it’s a safe bet that his power will return, too.
“I feel really comfortable at the plate,” Ramos said. “I’m recognizing the pitches better. I think it was a question of timing what’s happened. At this time, I feel really good. I’m recognizing pitches well and making good contact. I’m more relaxed. I think that’s helped me do the job I’m doing now.”