After the analytics revolution, stats are widely available both for fans and, especially, for teams. Now, we understand that the numbers say fly balls and line drives are significantly better than ground balls for batters. The New York Mets‘ starting catcher Wilson Ramos is starting to realize this, as well.
Ramos is known, at this stage of his career, as an offensive catcher. The fact that he has been good with the bat over the course of his career (.275/.322/.436, 123 home runs, 104 wRC+) has earned him that label. However, he isn’t a particularly good framer or a highly regarded game caller. He needs to bat to start.
Last season was a down-ish year offensively. He hit .288/.351/.416 with 14 home runs. Yes, the average and on-base skills were nice but the power output was below his standards.
For the Mets’ catcher, the main culprit was a highly elevated ground ball rate. In fact, among qualified Major League hitters last season, Ramos had the highest ground-ball-to-fly-ball rate in baseball 3.26.
The second-placed batter, Eric Hosmer, wasn’t even close to Ramos. That’s why the Mets’ hitter sought advice. He hired an independent hitting coach in the offseason and made mechanical changes with the intention of hitting the ball in the air more often.
The Mets’ catcher wants to quit cutting his swing
Specifically, Ramos worked to increase his launch angle and on avoiding â€œcuttingâ€ his swing.
â€œThat made me go around the ball and hit a lot of ground balls,â€ Ramos said to Anthony DiComo of his old style. â€œThis offseason, I was working on trying to stay through the ball and not cut my swing. That helped me to keep the ball in the air and not hit too many ground balls to the left side.â€
The results are showing. Ramos put on a show in batting practice on Monday and then uncorked his first spring homer at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. He crushed a ball, per DiComo, over the fence, over the New York Metsâ€™ bullpen, over another fence and onto a pedestrian concourse beyond that to propel the Mets’ first win of the spring.
â€œThat was a good swing. It made me feel happy,â€ he said.