Biggest Surprises of 2011 – #2: Wilson Ramos

In today’s installment of the five biggest surprises on the Washington Nationals roster we take a look at Wilson Ramos and his impressive breakout season.

Wilson Ramos may have gotten more publicity for his kidnapping than his actual performance on the field last year, so I think its time we finally recognize his breakout 2011 season.

Entering last March, the Nationals plan at catcher was to have Ramos platoon with veteran Ivan Rodriquez and see where it would take them, hoping that eventually Ramos would be well prepared by his mentor. The plan couldn’t have gone any smoother as Ramos ultimately took hold of the starting duties as the season progressed. In 113 games, Ramos hit .267 with 15 home runs and 52 RBI earning him a fourth place finish in the NL Rookie of the Year voting and a spot on Baseball America’s All-Rookie team. The catcher was also a force behind the plate establishing a great rapport with his pitchers and was third in all of baseball throwing out 32.4% of runners on the base paths.

When former manager Jim Riggleman was around Ramos was batting all over the lineup; there was no consistency, which can be hard for a young hitter trying to establish himself on the major league level. It wasn’t until Davey Johnson took over where he found himself batting primarily in the seventh and eighth spot of the order. In those 59 games played under Johnson, Ramos improved his hitting drastically with a .284 batting average, 9 home runs, and 30 RBI, saving his best for September making himself the clear cut starter for the Washington Nationals.

The upcoming 2012 season will be an interesting one for Ramos. Not only does he have to live up to the high expectations Nationals fans have set for him, but he must also deal with the attention from his off-season abduction. I truly believe he has what it takes to put the incident behind him and concentrate on baseball, as he’s done with his Venezuelan team in the winter league.

Click here to see surprises No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5.