Monday, June 8, 2009

Aramis versus Chili, One Named Wonders Face Off!

Now, I am pretty confident that I am not the first blogger to scratch my head over Aramis (Ramirez’) 2009 Heritage card, but I haven’t read anything about it yet. Perhaps it is old news, but to this blogger, it opens a can of worms. I don’t have the entire set put together yet, but this is the 2nd card I have pulled with the player’s first name listed. The only other was Ichiro (Suzuki) and I have grown somewhat accustomed to him being a one-name wonder. I actually pulled the card a week ago and I have googled it and checked e-bay listing for the card. I have not read anyone saying anything about Aramis being Aramis.
It actually made me think first of Chili (Davis). So expect a really long blog and expect to read more stats than you would prefer on the Jamaican Sensation.
The reason why I thought of Chili was that around 1986 or ’87 he started wearing his first name, no his first name was Charles. He listed his nickname, Chili on the back of his San Francisco Giants jersey. Sports Illustrated wrote a story about the proliferation of Davis’ (Davi?) in the big leagues. In fact, looking back, there were no less than 14 Davi listed on 40 man rosters in the bigs in 1987. There were some big names like Chili, Eric, Alvin, Storm and Glenn. There were also lesser known Davi like Trench, Joel, Ron and Butch. It has always been said that being a good catcher in the minors is the fastest way to the big leagues, in 1987, being the son of a parent named Davis was.
I haven’t read the SI story in over 20 years and I was a pre-teen at the time, so I recall very little of it. The story was basically that were a lot of guys in the league whose last name was Davis. Of those guys, one of them didn’t have Davis on the back of their jersey. That guy was Charles “Chili” Davis. I thought it was kind of cool. I stayed up late to watch Giants games and sifted through my cards looking for Chilis (I did notice first and last name on all of my cards). My little league coach lectured us on this. He said that was the worst form of showboating. He told us that Chili was a horrible role-model and we should stick to emulating players like Jody Davis or Glenn Davis or any Davis that wore their name, initial optional on the back of their shirt. Those guys seemed like safe Davis’ to me. I liked Chili. I think that was around the time I took up switch hitting, too.
Back to 2009 and the era of Aramis. There are 10 players in the league whose last name is Ramirez. One of them is suspended, so that leaves 9 active players. Aramis has 6 letters in it, as does Hanley. Hanley and Aramis are both from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Hanley’s ’09 Heritage card shows his first and last name. Hmm.
Gonzalez is actually the most popular name in the majors. There are 10 Gonzalez’ and none of them are serving suspensions for taking fertility drugs or lady pills. Gonzalez has one more letter in it than Ramirez, yet the good folks at Topps were somehow able to cram all the letters of the first and last names of Adrian, Carlos, Gio and Mike Gonzalez on the fronts of their cards. Hell, Jonathan Papelbon and Edwin Encarnacion both have first and last names (for a triple word score total of 16 tiles each), I am sure if I open more packs I will find more dramatic examples.
So why is Aramis joining Ichiro as a one-named wonder? He isn’t the most successful Ramirez. Manny used to hold that title, but I think Hanley has a firm grip on it now. Although I don’t possess one, it seems that all the chrome and refractor versions of this card have his full name on it. His other cards for other product in 2009 have his full name. The card sells on e-bay for next to nothing, so it’s not an error. I just need to know why???? It’s killing me really. I don’t mean to hate on Aramis either, that’s not fair. I do not think he deserves to be known by one name, but I don’t think Zack, Derek, Albert, Carlos or anyone deserve that either. I live within walking distance to Pirate City and I remember Aramis (Ramirez) as he was coming up with the Bucs. He was amazing!!! I instantly became a fan. He was a young and naïve and skinny little teenager the first time I met him, and it was neat watching him grow into a ballplayer, get comfortable with this country, with baseball, with being famous. He was definitely come a long way, but has he come long enough to drop his last name? This blogger says no! Seriously, I really do need to know the reason behind this. I thought it may have been done in an effort to be authentic in the duplication of the cards counterpart in the 1960 set. I dug into the archives and found the original card #95. It is Frank Thomas, 3rd baseman/outfielder for the Chicago Cubs, with both of his names listed on the cards front. So, is it ego, adoration, idolization, oversight or error? Will this be a reoccurring trend featuring different players each year? Should I prepare to add cards for Ben, Jason, Carl and Evan to my Rays collection? Also, are players asked their preference by card companies? Does Aramis have enough pull to change his name? Please, someone, help a blogger out, I have a very limited amount of hair to be pulling…
Okay, rewind back to 1987, the year of the Davis. It really wasn’t. In fact, the Davi won in quantity only, not quality. Eric was the lone Davis who made the All Star team (and went 0-2). None of the Davi made any noise, other than Eric, in post season awards either. Perhaps that was the beginning of the end for that surname. In 2009, there are only 3 Davi hanging on in the big leagues. The declining Doug, the disappointing Rajai and the powerful but Mendoza line hovering Chris. That’s a big drop-off in quality and quantity both.
For those interested or obsessed the league leaders in the name department are:
In first place, with 10 players each, are Ramirez and Gonzalez. In second place we have a 4-way tie with Hernandez, Johnson, Rodriguez and Young each boasting 7 players. There are 6 Cabreras in the majors. Four different sir names claim five representatives; they are Anderson, Jones, Pena and Wilson. Rivera, Green, Chavez, Hill, Jackson, Lopez, Miller, Reyes, Sanchez and Smith each claim 4 reps. There are 12 different last names that have 3 players sharing them in the bigs. They are Davis, Castillo, Blanco, Burke, Cruz, Guzman, Lewis, Murphy, McDonald, Wells, Wood and Wright. There are a lot of 2 name reps, many are actually brothers. My favorite being the Uptons, but there are many.
Baseball is in many cases a microcosm of life, but the last name thing doesn’t totally add up. The most popular name in the United States is Smith. There are 4 Smiths in MLB. Second is Johnson, there are 7 Johnsons (run with this one guys) in the bigs. 3rd is Williams. Although this has been a historically good name for a ballplayer to have, since Woody Williams was released, there are no Williams in MLB. The 4th most popular name in the U.S. is Jones, and there are 5 Joneses to keep up with. The 5th name on the list is Brown, there are no Brown’s. Emil had been the last Brown hanging, but the Mets released him yesterday. Incidentally, Emil is the most popular first name in Finland.
So, where does Ramirez rank in terms of popularity in the U.S.? It makes the top 100, coming in at 70th most common with roughly 261,000 Ramiri in the States. As a first name, Aramis does not list in the Top-100.
So now, how does Aramis compare with Chili?
First, there were a few stats regarding Chili that surprised me. First, he is 4th ALL TIME in home runs for switch hitters. Only Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray and Chipper Jones have more. Second, he is 17th on the All Time list in intentional walks with 188. Those 2 stood out and seemed Hall Of Very Good to me. His final line is .274, 350 homers and 1372 RBIs. Not too shabby for the first Jamaican player in the major leagues. Add 3 World Series rings to that resume and it sounds even better.
Comparing Chili and Aramis career wise doesn’t work because, even though he is out for 6-8 weeks with a dislocated shoulder, Aramis has a lot more baseball to play. You can take their career 162 game average and see the similarities. Runs: Chili 82, Aramis 84. Hits: Chili 158, Aramis 172. Triples: Both=2. Home runs: Chili 23, Aramis 30. RBI: Chili 91, Aramis 108. Walks: Chili 79, Aramis 48. Strikeout: Chili 113, Aramis 92. Batting Average: Chili .274, Aramis .285. OBP: Chili .360, Aramis .342. SLG: Chili .451, Aramis .503. GIDP: Chili 15, Aramis 17.
They are pretty close in their postseason stats with Chili’s quick line at .210, 3, 14 and Aramis at .194, 4, 10. The difference being that Chili’s numbers came more in the World Series and he has 3 rings and Aramis’ come from the division series, mainly. Oh, and they both were among the worst rated at their positions in fielding and range, until Chili became a full-time DH.
Either way, they have shared a lot of parallels in their careers, and were both fun players to watch and to collect, but I don’t think either deserves to be known by their first name exclusively.

1 comment:

  1. I miss Chili... and if Topps can fir Jarrod Saltalamacchia onto a card, they damn well can fit Aramis Ramirez.

    And don't forget the flying Molina brothers. Three of them, all catchers. Weird.