Sunday, October 12, 2014

Alex Ramirez

Continuing the theme of former NPB players announcing their retirement following one or more seasons in independent baseball, former Swallow, Giant and Baystar Alex Ramirez announced his retirement a few weeks back.  Ramirez had last played in NPB in 2013.

Alex Ramirez had originally signed with the Cleveland Indians as 16 year old from Venezuela in 1991.  He spent most of the 90's working his way up through the Indians' minor league system finally reaching the Show in 1998 when the rosters expanded at the end of the season.  He started 1999 with the Indians AAA team in Buffalo before being called up to the majors for good in mid-June.  The Indians traded him to Pittsburgh in the middle of the 2000 season and the Pirates sold his contract to the Swallows in the off season.

2001 BBM #339

2005 Calbee #123
Between his offensive production and his outgoing personality, Ramirez quickly became a fan favorite with the Swallows.  He remained with Yakult for seven seasons, which qualified him to become a free agent and also allowed him to no longer be considered a foreign player for roster purposes.  He was looking for a multi-year contract but Yakult only offered a one year deal, so he left the Swallows as a free agent and signed with the team just a few miles east in Tokyo, the Yomiuri Giants.

2009 BBM 2nd Version #656

2010 BBM Giants #G129
Ramirez put up amazing numbers in his first three seasons with the Giants - he averaged .315 with 41 home runs and 119 RBIs, winning back to back MVP awards in 2008 and 2009.  In 2011, however, his numbers dipped to .279 with 23 home runs and 73 RBIs and the Giants released him at the end of the season.  The Yokohoma Baystars, who were wanting to make a splash after being bought by DeNA (and changing their name to the Yokohama DeNA Baystars) picked him up.

2012 BBM 1st Version #312

2013 Front Runner Trading Cards Baystars Rookie & Young Stars #15
He brought his batting average up to .300 in his first season in Yokohama but his power numbers did not recover (which may have been due to the change to the "standard" ball).  Age appeared to catch up with him in 2013 and he was sent to the ni-gun team for the first time ever.  There was a lot of speculation in July that he might be dealt to a Pacific League team, but ultimately he remained with DeNA, who released him at the end of the season.  He spent 2014 with the Gunma Diamond Pegasus of the independent Baseball Challenge (BC) League.

Ramirez had quite a few awards and accolades during his career in Japan.  As mentioned above, he won the Central League MVP Award in 2008 and 2009.  He was the Central League batting champion in 2009 and was a league leader multiple times in hits (2003, 2007 & 2009), home runs (2003 & 2010), and RBIs (2003, 2007, 2008 & 2010).  He was the third player in NBP history to reach 200 hits in a season in 2007 and was the first foreign player ever to accumulate 2000 hits in a season and be inducted into the Meikyukai.  (I did a post on him a few years ago after he reached 2000 hits).

2011 BBM 1st Version #332
He made the All Star team eight times (2002-03, 2007-2012) and was named MVP of Game 1 in 2007.

2007 BBM All Stars #A64
He played in three Nippon Series, one with the Swallows (2001) and two with the Giants (2008, 2009).  He won the "Fighting Spirit" Award (essentially the losing team's MVP) in the only one of the Series that his team lost (2008).

2009 BBM Nippon Series #S23

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A great guy and we wish him well in his future! Barbara & Jerry Murphy