There is no player more important to the success of the Chicago Cubs than their third baseman. That is where today’s discussion in my “Around the Horn” discussion brings us. Today, is all about the player who many call the Cubs Most Valuable player. I am talking about none other than Aramis Ramirez. Every team has one player who is the focal point to their offense. For the St. Louis Cardinals, that player is Albert Pujols. For the Cubs, you have to look no further than to Ramirez when trying to find the main RBI guy. With Ramirez missing half of the 2009 season, you don’t have to look too far to see why they failed to make an impact.
Despite missing half of the 2009 season, Ramirez still finished third on the team in home runs with 15 and second in RBI with 65. If that isn’t a very sad, but telling stat, I don’t know what is. Last years Cubs team was missing a lot of offense, as you can see. One glaring piece of reality from seeing Ramirez’s near the top of the home run and RBI lists, is that no one outside of Derrek Lee was able to contribute much of anything to help the Cubs win anything. While I am not blaming the failure of the 2009 Cubs on Ramirez, his absence from the lineup was damaging.
There isn’t much you need to worry about with Ramirez when you look at his offensive production. If he plays a full season, you know he will hit around 30 home runs and drive in over 100 RBI. However, that word if needs to be discussed. Ramirez, hardly ever plays what can be considered a full season. As a member of the Chicago Cubs, his high in games are 157, 149 and 145 which are all acceptable from your everyday starters. Not many players can play all 162 games, the days of Cal Ripkin are over. The problem comes in when you look at his game totals for other years. You will see total games played at 132, 129 and last years 82. Because of these game totals, Ramirez has been labeled as an injury prone player. Something he has stated he wants to disprove this year. That may be easier said than done though.
Last year, he missed half the year with a separated shoulder, and injury which he has a history of. While in Pittsburgh he fell victim to the same injury, and missed a chunk of the year as well. The main worry with Ramirez, is that he will injure the shoulder again, with a similar dive and attempt to make a solid defensive play. Because he opted not to have the surgery which was recommended, some are saying that he is at a greater risk of missing games again with the same injury. If he does miss significant time again, the Cubs will suffer the same fate as last year. Everyone says a team is more than just one player, that “there is no I in team”. While that saying is true, in some cases one player is more important than any other. Whether you agree with me or not, the Cubs season hinges more on the health and production of Ramirez than anyone else on the ball club.
I already stated my predicition for Ramirez as far as production goes, but for him I will give a more in-depth prediction. For the player who helps the offense move, I see Ramirez playing hopefully close to 140 games this year, if his shoulder is able to hold up. If he is able to play in at least 140 games, Ramirez will put up some amazing stats as always. His home run total should be in the low to mid 30s, and with the three players that are in front of him in the batting order, his RBI chances should be plentiful giving him ample opportunity to drive in over 100 RBI. If he fails to play close to a full season, there is no telling how bad this team could be,