Some stats were saying Wilson Ramos caught 3 no-hitters in a span of 162 games and that’s accurate if you are counting games on the Nationals calendar, but Wilson Ramos didn’t appear in all 162 games in that span as he was behind the plate in 129 games from the Jordan Zimmermann no-hitter to end the 2014 regular season and then for the June 20, 2015 Max Scherzer no-hitter and the October 3, 2015 no-hitter. Based on the 129 games that Ramos caught, his current pace has been one no-hitter per every 43 games he’s played, and all of those are Major League records. With some number crunching using “rest” days for Ramos, we know that the next no-hitter will come in Game #54 of the 2016 season if there are no rain-outs that would be June 1, 2016 in Philadelphia vs. the Phillies (book it).
If Wilson Ramos is fortunate enough to catch another no-hitter, it would tie him for the MLB regular season record of 4 no-hitters held by Jason Varitek, and keep in mind that Ramos just turned 28 años in August.
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) October 4, 2015
Varitek played until the ripe age of 39, and the 4th no-hitter that Tek caught was in 2008 at the age of 36, thrown by Jon Lester. Some catchers go a lifetime of never having caught a no-no Varitek said. In fact when Lester threw his no-hitter which was Varitek’s 4th and final no-hitter he caught in his career he said, “I didn’t really know he had a no-hitter until the eighth [inning]. I looked up in the seventh and saw that he was around 100 pitches, and he did his job. I glanced in the bullpen and saw nobody warming up and thought that was weird.” In Lester’s 2nd inning of that 2008 no-hitter game, the Perfect Game ended on a walk and then near-disaster on a Lester fielding error so you can see why Varitek might have lost track of the zero hit total.
When Jon Lester threw his no-hitter with Varitek behind the plate, his pitching coach was John Farrell who is the current manager of the Red Sox. Here’s his thoughts on a no-hitter, “The fact that [Jason Varitek] has caught 4 in his career, the only catcher to ever do that, that’s a team effort. Jason [as a catcher] has a huge impact on what goes on. Certainly, Jon Lester threw every pitch, but Jason’s guidance certainly got him to that point.”
Catchers of course make a difference in the gems of all pitching crown jewels, but as we all know the luck of BABIP and great defense play a part in these games as we remember how the Jordan Zimmermann September 28, 2014 no-hitter ended on a spectacular Web Gem by Steven Souza. It’s a game of inches and also a game of extreme skill.
We talked with Ramos about the Jason Varitek record and threw out names suggesting who might throw the next no-hitter in Nats history. Could Scherzer throw a 3rd no-hitter? Strasburg? Lucas Giolito? In fact Lucas Giolito recently threw a 7 inning no-hitter in the Minors until they went to the bullpen before a relief pitcher gave up a hit ending the no-no. That’s 3 pitchers with no-hit stuff. Ramos just smiled as we talked and he mostly just listened to our rambling as it was a tough day for all of NatsTown and the Nats players like Ramos given the Monday morning personnel moves with Matt Williams and staff.
On the positive side, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and Joe Mauer were catchers that Wilson Ramos learned from. Pudge Rodriguez taught Wily well, and helped him with the finer points of game prep, pitch selection and game management. Pudge is no stranger to no hitters having caught 2 no-hitters (Kenny Rogers’ perfect game on July 28, 1994, with the Rangers, and Justin Verlander’s no-hitter with the Tigers on June 12, 2007). On the other hand, Joe Mauer was not the catcher when Francisco Liriano threw a no-hitter on May 3, 2011 as Drew Butera was the catcher as Mauer was on the DL and could only watch, and that was the only no-hitter during Mauer’s MLB tenure.
The fraternity of catchers is close and Ramos received hundreds of messages after each no-hitter he caught from current and former catchers sending congratulations. Former catcher Randy Knorr didn’t need to text message Ramos as he has been close to Wilson Ramos in all 3 no-hitters watching from the dugout in his capacity as the Nats bench coach, and Randy has also been a major influence in Wilson’s career. Wilson said, “I love Randy Knorr.” Wilson’s smile turned sad with the mention of Knorr which clearly had to do with the status of Knorr as an important person in his life.
The rest of the evening turned to what would be a walk through history…more specifically a walk through Nats and no-hitter history. Wilson and his memorabilia agent Andrew Lang of Allstars Sports Marketing were meeting for a hand-off for Andrew’s personal collection which is like a personal Nats Cooperstown and whatever Andrew doesn’t keep would be for sale to memorabilia collectors through his company. The bags had bats, cleats, shin guards, and Wilson’s catchers gear from both of Max Scherzer’s 2015 no-hitters.
Pictured below on (L) is Ramos’ June 20, 2015 gear, and on the (R) is the October 3, 2015 gear from the 2 Scherzer no-hitters.
That is Hall of Fame quality and Wilson kept the gear from his 1st no-hitter and also shared that he used a different catcher’s mitt for each no-hitter and plans a display to exhibit each one.
When Wilson Ramos and Andrew Lang first did a marketing contract almost 4 years ago, Lang wrote a no-hitter clause in there as a bonus to Ramos just in case that ever happened. Well it happened x 3.
Below is a YouTube video of the memorabilia as shown on the back of Wilson Ramos’ new Chevy Camero.
As Wilson was signing his game used 2015 items, the conversation continued and what was evident was Wilson covets a Gold Glove and smiled at the mention of an All Star appearance. Wilson wants to return to the offensive domination that he was known for early in his career. Fans seem focused more on offense but a good catcher’s primary function is defense, but when rating catchers, defense doesn’t seem to excite like the HR does and Ramos has hit some titanic taters. Wilson said he kept the bat that used for the HR in Nats Park that landed 2 rows in front of the concourse in LF, and Wilson said, “I actually cracked the bat with that HR swing. Never did that before.”
Here’s that LF blast against Baltimore in this HR video: RAMOS ALMOST REACHES CONCOURSE WITH HR
Ramos was recently recognized before the October 3rd no-hitter in an article in the Washington Post touting Ramos as a superior defender while also being fair about where he needs to improve. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/nationals-journal/wp/2015/10/01/wilson-ramos-has-had-a-better-defensive-year-than-you-may-think/ A great stat which we’ve mentioned before is that Ramos rated #1 of all catcher’s in the combo stat of balls in the dirt and other potential Wild Pitches: “Baseball Prospectus developed an advanced metric that compared real and actual wild pitches and passed ball and predicted ones. Ramos, who didn’t rank highly before, is first in the majors.” What that does for a Nats pitcher is they will throw a breaking pitch or the low fastball in almost any situation with the adept Ramos at catcher, and Ramos is not shy about putting down the sign for the slider in the dirt which was witnessed in both of Scherzer’s 2 no-hitters.
Thanks to the no-hitter, Ramos ended the season #1 in NL Catcher defense. He beat out Yadier Molina who he admires greatly, and well ahead of Buster Posey. Here is the final 2015 ratings from FanGraphs: FANGRAPHS CATCHER’S RATINGS for 2O15 Ramos led the league in Caught Stealing % at just under 45% but also had the fewest steal attempts per inning of any catcher, and if you think Lobaton deterred the running game, runners took off on Lobaton vs Ramos at almost a 2:1 margin per inning. It allows your pitchers to worry more about the batters than the baserunners. Ramos finished the season with an ERA at 3.43 well below the team ERA of 3.62.
Being a good catcher starts with defense and handling the pitchers, and if you want offense than Buster Posey is your guy; however, consider Ramos was right behind Posey in RBIs for #2 in catcher’s RBI production.
Ramos is set to become a Free Agent after the 2016 season, we will preview him again over the Winter.