Harper. Harper. Harper. Sure Bryce Harper has been impressive over the last few weeks (and all season really), but the 22-year-old's NL Player of the Week-worthy run has somewhat overshadowed the work Washington Nationals' catcher Wilson Ramos has done over the last week or two (not that it's in any way Harper's fault).
Ramos has been on a tear over the past two weeks with hits in 14-straight games after he went 1 for 5 with a base-clearing double in last night's 11-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Over the course of his 14-game hit streak, Ramos is 22 for 55 (.400/.431/.473, a .904 OPS?, an unsustainable(?) .468 BABIP?) with four doubles, eight RBIs, three walks and eight Ks.
The hit streak has taken the 27-year-old catcher from a .229/.240/.333 line on April 22nd to a .320/.343/.408 line on the year after last night's game.
After Ramos hit an eighth-inning double to drive in the go-ahead run in the Nationals' 5-4 win over the Atlanta Braves in the series finale in D.C. on Sunday, both manager Matt Williams and Nats' first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who came around to score on the opposite field hit, talked about what the catcher is capable of doing at the plate.
"He's got a knack for driving runs in because he stays in the middle of the diamond and the other way so well, " Williams said.
"Today reminded me of that game last year as part of the winning streak where he hit a ball that way for the win."
After "that game last year" Williams referred to, when Ramos went the other way for a game-winner, a walk-off double that beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, the catcher told reporters he was just trying to do his job and move a runner up in a close game.
"I hit the ball well," Ramos said. "I was concentrating more on moving the runner and not trying to score that run. I was concentrating, I fouled it off two times, just try to hit the ball the other way to move the runner, but the thing that I did, that's better than moving the runner."
Williams talked then about being impressed with Ramos' ability to produce at the plate in spite of the injury issues he's dealt with which kept him out of the lineup for long stretches last season.
"With the injuries that he had," Williams said, "it's difficult to maintain timing and approach and rhythm and all of that, but the more he plays the better it gets. Certainly can't play every day, but he's been swinging the bat well. He's doing what he does. He stays through the middle really good, hits the ball the other way really well with some power."
Ryan Zimmerman talked this past weekend about wanting to see what the Nats' backstop can do with a full season's worth of at bats.
Ramos played 113 games in 2011, putting up a .267/.334/.445 line with 22 doubles and 15 home runs in in 435 plate appearances. He played just 191 games over the next three seasons, however, as he dealt with knee, hamstring and hamate bone injuries.
"I've always said, I want to see what [Ramos] can do with 120-130 games," Zimmerman said.
"Because he's obviously a great catcher, but offensively he's very talented and if he can stay healthy and play all year he's another guy that can put up 20 home runs and it's hard to find a catcher who can do that."
"He just stays on the ball so good," Williams said Sunday.
"He's been swinging good. He's swinging at strikes. He's getting good pitches to hit, being patient enough to get those pitches and delivering for us. So, he's playing well."
Ramos hit his base-clearing double to left field last night in Chase Field on a 76 mph 0-1 curve from D-Backs' lefty Vidal Nuno he sent bouncing by third base to put the Nationals ahead 10-0 in the second inning of the series opener in Arizona.
"We know that he can hit," Williams said after the big win. "We know that for him it's a question of health and being able to get out there every day. We're trying to pick our spots and giving him days off and making sure that we take care of him too, but the way he's hitting, he's a vital part of our offense, drives runs in, as evidenced tonight."
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