Pittsburgh Pirates: One Year Later, Ramirez Came Home


Dave Littlefield traded Aramis Ramirez on July 23, 2002 in what is one of the worst trades in recent baseball history. Last year, on the same date of July 23, Neal Huntington brought him home to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Last season the Pirates had a large need for a bat, especially one that could play third base. Starting shortstop Jordy Mercer went down with an injury against the Milwaukee Brewers on July 19th. Jung Ho Kang slid over to shortstop, and Pedro Florimon also started two games at short. Brent Morel – who had seven plate appearances, including the game winner in his last plate appearance, and Sean Rodriguez played third base for the club, and Kang was there when Florimon started at short.

Pedro Florimon hit a less than stellar .087/.160/.174 last season, had one hit in the three games he played in between Mercer’s injury and Ramirez’s arrival, and was hitting .204/.266/.300 entering the 2015 season. Brent Morel hit .286/.286/.429 in his seven plate appearances last season, but entering 2015 he was hitting just .226/.273/.327. Sean Rodriguez, who is having a solid 2016 season, was hitting .207/.233/.310 in the 154 plate appearances before Aramis Ramirez played in his first game for the Pirates on July 25, 2015.

Oct 4, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates president Frank Coonelly (L) and owner Robert Nutting (RC) present third baseman Aramis Ramirez (17) and starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) with gifts before the Pirates play the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park. Both Ramirez and Burnett have announced this is their final season. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Ramirez was a bat the Pirates could acquire for a low price, especially because the need for him was short-term as Mercer returned slightly more than a month later on August 23, and Ramirez already announced his plans to retire after the season started. The price of the deal was a 23-year-old relief pitcher in Yhonathan Barrios. Barrios has pitched in five career big league games, all occurring last season, and has not pitched this season due to rotator cuff surgery.

Aramis did not have the best welcome home story though. The Pirate from 1998-2002, began his second Pirates stint with an 0-14 start, and hitting just 2-17 in his first four games. He picked up his first RBI as a Pirate in 2015 against the team the Pirates traded him to, the Chicago Cubs on August 5th. The first two home runs Aramis hit for the Bucs last season gave the team the lead, both coming in the first inning. On September 2nd, Ramirez took Milwaukee Brewers right-handed pitcher Zach Davies hit a three run home run in the top of the fourth inning to tie the game at three.

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Ramirez’s 56 games as a Pirate were not his best stretch of games. He hit .245/.299/.413 with a .308 wOBA and 97 wRC+. He was a below average hitter with the team, but against left-handed pitching, Ramirez hit .259/.317/.466 in 63 plate appearances. With runners in scoring position Ramirez was huge, hitting .302/.387/.492 and with two outs in runners in scoring position, Ramirez hit .290/.436/.419. Ramirez being the run producer he was, had a 5.9 at bats per RBI, his lowest mark since 2012.

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Ramirez was far from being who he was as a Pirate and Cub last season, but he came in and filled a spot in the time of need. In fact, Ramirez still killed the Cardinals, hitting .389/.500/.611. In the 23 games he played – 22 starts – before Jordy Mercer returned from injury, the team went 15-8, and the team overall in Mercer’s absence went 20-10. Aramis Ramirez helped the team achieve such a great mark, as Brent Morel and Pedro Florimon starting everyday would not have helped. Today, July 23rd, Aramis Ramirez returned back to where it all started.

*Numbers from baseball-reference and fangraphs