Wilson Ramos and Health, While It Lasts

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals catcher has the pedigree to be productive, and his hand is getting healthier all the time. Now is the time to buy in.

In our preseason catcher ratings, we had Wilson Ramos 11th, and individual rankers had him as high as ninth. Coming off a 2013 in which he hit .272/.307/.470 with 16 home runs in only 303 plate appearances, Ramos was seen as a possible breakout candidate at catcher.

So far this year, though, Ramos is not so much doing the breakout thing. He's hitting .196/.254/.250, and his next home run will be his first home run. (UPDATE: I wrote that sentence on Tuesday, because I'm out of town Thursday-Saturday this week and wanted to be productive. Well, of course Ramos hit his first home of the season Wednesday. Hurts my last couple sentences, but helps my overall point.) He also missed time - as he is wont to do - with a broken hamate bone. That has his Yahoo! ownership percentage, which started the season so high, down to about 44 percent, and has him among the most-dropped catchers in ESPN fantasy leagues.

We know that hand/wrist injuries like hamate bones can sap a player's power for a time. Well, Ramos missed only 32 games, which is definitely on the low side of the hamate impact. Would it really be a surprise if he took a little extra time to get his feel back after that sort of injury?

Again, we ranked Ramos 11th among catchers to start the season. He put up a 112 OPS+ in 2013, was seen as a future-star catcher before that, and doesn't even turn 27 until August.

There's an argument for avoiding Ramos because of his injury history. He's torn an ACL, fractures a hamate bone. He's hit the DL with a hamstring strain, with a torn meniscus. There's a lot to like about Ramos, but the trustworthiness of his body is not one of those things.

But - and this is another point I've made before - when you have a guy who gets hurt a lot, the solution to that isn't "avoid that player"; the solution to that is "invest in that player and ride his production until he gets hurt, then move on." Ramos will hit fine, and soon (that home run Wednesday helps my cause). He's available in a lot of leagues. Buy in, enjoy the production. If (when?) he gets hurt, cut bait. But enjoy him until then.

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