Hanley Ramirez Deserves More Praise

Entering the season, Hanley Ramirez caused plenty of debate across New England. After signing a four-year, $88 million deal to rejoin the Red Sox, Ramirez delivered a sub-par season in 2015, leading many to question his future in Boston. Hanley hit just .249 last year with 19 home runs and only 12 doubles. He was also one of the worst defenders in baseball, as judged by a slew of metrics. Therefore, little was expected of him entering 2016.

Hanley Ramirez

Unlike his under-performing sidekick Pablo Sandoval, Ramirez was willing to make sacrifices to prolong his Red Sox career. Hanley recommitted to a winter training program and agreed to move positions yet again. First base became his new home and fans at least appreciated the effort. Nevertheless, few dared expect anything other than league average performance at best in 2016, with many bracing for something far worse. Thus, his strong resurgence in recent months has been a pleasant surprise.

The Resurgence of Hanley Ramirez

With David Ortiz soaking up much of the attention, Hanley Ramirez has found the time and space to rediscover himself. While the power numbers of old may never return, Ramirez has been a steady contributor at the plate. As August rounds into view, he’s currently hitting .283 with 11 home runs and 54 RBI. Ramirez has already surpassed his RBI total from last season with over two months remaining, while his on-base percentage has risen by seventy points.

Defensively, Hanley has also been decent. He ranks fifteenth among first basemen in Ultimate Zone Rating and has made only three errors all season. Of course, first base isn’t the most demanding of positions, especially for a former shortstop, but what Hanley Ramirez is currently providing far exceeds what many expected from him. And that should be praised.

Aside from the numbers, Ramirez just seems to have rediscovered some of his old spark. In one game this week, he hit three mammoth home runs, becoming the first Red Sox player to do so at Fenway Park since Kevin Millar in 2004. Those moments of inspiration may still be fleeting for Hanley Ramirez, but they’re far more frequent than last season and are now backed by a solid baseline performance.

Is Hanley Ramirez an elite player right now? No, probably not. A Wins Above Replacement score of 1 ranks him thirteenth among first baseman. The Red Sox are still destined to overpay grossly on this contract. However, it’s impossible to overstate the improvement from last season, when Fangraphs WAR adjudged him to be the third-worst position player in baseball.

Why Hanley Ramirez Deserves More Support

On a spiritual level, Hanley Ramirez deserves our appreciation here. With criticism poring in from every quarter, he identified and made the necessary changes to justify his continued inclusion on this team. When everybody doubted him, Ramirez swallowed some pride and worked hard to win back support. Deep down we must admire that from a human standpoint. The guy has worked his butt off to make Red Sox Nation happy, and that effort should be acknowledged.

We were all quick to chastise Hanley Ramirez when things didn’t go well, and perhaps he deserved it. Even now, nothing is perfect, and there are still flaws in the game of a man paid to be flawless. But instead of getting carried away and looking too far back or forward, we should take some time to stay in the moment and appreciate his determination to salvage some respectability.

Hanley Ramirez Done for the Season?

Hanley Ramirez is officially done for the season, as Torey Luvollo told ESPN that he gave Hanley permission to being his off-season rehabilitation program in Fort Lauderdale, Florida today.

Let me be the first to breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe this will end up being a good thing for Hanley Ramirezhim. Hanley Ramirez has not been playing much lately anyway, which has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It has given way to the Red Sox young guns to showcase their skills, and the Red Sox have benefited greatly from that, as they have been playing much better in the last month or so.

The question I would have is “What does this mean for Hanley’s Red Sox future?” He’s the highest paid player annually, at $22 million a year, and while the story put out by Red Sox management seems like a believable story, since Hanley’s been struggling since he collided with the Green Monster back in May, I still have to wonder about what the team’s plans are with Hanley Ramirez. Given the way some of the young guys have been playing, it seems hard to figure out where Hanley will fit it next season.

I personally think the team should give him at least one more year, but not in left field. Hanley was a shortstop before coming here, but there is no way, save for serious injury, he’ll be put in at short ahead of Xander Bogaerts. One option would be for him to platoon somewhere, either at first base with Travis Shaw, or at designated hitter with David Ortiz. I find it hard to see him getting regular playing time in the outfield with the way the 3 regular guys (Castillo, Betts, Bradley Jr) have been playing well for the most part. I also find it hard to imagine that the Red Sox cut David Ortiz or Travis Shaw out of the picture to make room for Hanley Ramirez, unless David Ortiz retires, which seems unlikely at this point.

Maybe this is the team’s way of saying he doesn’t really have a future with the team, since other players that have suffered season-ending injuries (i.e Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa) are still with the team and Hanley is back in Florida. That’s just speculation on my part though. It could also be a blessing in disguise, and he might come back next year with a renewed sense of purpose, and he’ll come back an improved player. I find it hard to believe they won’t at least try and find a place for Hanley Ramirez next season after investing a monster contract in him, but I could be wrong. We’ll just have to wait and see where this goes.