Chicago Cubs: Aramis Ramirez has been underrated in team history
Aramis Ramirez had a great run with the Chicago Cubs from 2003 to 2011. It doesn’t seem that he’s gotten the recognition for it
Ron Santo had a great run as the Chicago Cubs’ third baseman from 1960 to 1973 and, to this day, remains the gold standard in franchise history at the hot corner. For thirty years, the team had a hard time finding a reliable third baseman, seeming to go through two or three of them per year on average. That changed when they traded for Aramis Ramirez during the 2003 season.
Ramirez came over to the Cubs along with Kenny Lofton from the Pittsburgh Pirates that year and helped to take the team to Game Seven of the National League Championship Series. After that, Ramirez spent eight more quality seasons with the team, and it can be argued that he’s the second most accomplished third baseman in franchise history (though Kris Bryant has since started to put himself into that conversation).
Ramirez was decent with the Cubs down the stretch in 2003, but from 2004 to 2008, he had a tremendous five-year run: a .302 batting average, 179 doubles, 158 home runs, 526 RBIs, and a .920 OPS. He placed in National League MVP voting in four of those seasons and was a vital member of the 2007 and 2008 NL Central division championship teams.
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Ramirez also rose to the occasion in big spots. According to Baseball Reference, his career AVG/OBP/SLG line in high leverage situations is .301/.360/.521. His most memorable moment may have been his walk-off home run against the Milwaukee Brewers on June 29, 2007, a signature win as the Cubs would eventually beat out the Brewers for a division title.
Ramirez was limited by injury in 2009 and had a down 2010, but his final season with the team, 2011, was a good one: .306 batting average, 26 home runs, and 93 RBIs. He then finished his career with the Milwaukee Brewers and back with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In the long, storied history of the Chicago Cubs, Ramirez ranks third in SLG, sixth in OPS, sixth in home runs, and 12th in RBIs. His offensive accomplishments deserve recognition, but beyond that, he brought stability to a position that the Cubs historically have had a hard time filling.
For a stretch during the 2000s, Ramirez was my favorite player. I liked how he seemed to come through in clutch situations frequently. I don’t know why he hasn’t received more attention, both for his Cubs career and his career in general. His defense wasn’t known to be great, so that may have something to do with it, though I think it’s also because he seldom made headlines with his personality. While with the Cubs, he seemed just to show up every day and do his job.
Nearly a decade after Ramirez’s Cubs career ended, it seems like we rarely talk about him and what he meant to the franchise. And that’s a shame. He provided lots of great moments and was a part of some winning teams. For that, he deserves to be recognized.