There is currently a misperception of Hanley Ramirez by many Red Sox fans. The Red Sox signed Ramirez this past offseason to a 4 year, $88 million contract. There is also a vesting option for a 5th year at $22 million. The general consensus at the time of the signing was that they overpaid for him, but it was a solid signing considering the hitting potential Ramirez would have. At 31 years old, Ramirez was entering the tail end of the prime years of his career, but still was expected to put up solid numbers assuming he could stay healthy. The big question was where he would play. The Red Sox made it clear right away that Ramirez would be their left fielder. This didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. The consensus was that an athlete who was good enough to play shortstop all of these would by perfectly fine as a left fielder at Fenway Park.
As we all now, the defensive assumptions proved to be incorrect. Ramirez has been very weak defensively. He has struggled to adjust to the position. Even more glaring is his lack of hustle in the field. He doesn’t appear to really go after the ball. He coasts out there and does not seem engaged. In addition, he does not get a good jump on the ball and he has frequently misplayed balls that should have been caught. This is not really news, but it’s pretty clear now that Hanley Ramirez should not be playing left field.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about where Ramirez should fit in next year. The options that have been primarily discussed at first base and DH. First base could be an option if Hanley puts the effort into it. If he could play shortstop, he should be able to play first base. However, we already made this assumption in left field. Do we really want Hanley to be involved in as many plays as a first baseman normally is? The jury is out on this one. He probably could do it. The question is whether or not he wants to.
This leads us to the discussion of DH. David Ortiz is signed for next year. The general thought is that Ramirez will eventually be Ortiz’ replacement at DH once Big Papi’s Red Sox career is finished. Since 2009, Big Papi has been viewed here as a player in his last year that won’t be able to continue to produce. He continues to prove everyone wrong. He’s doing it again this year. In fact, he’s currently on pace for 36 home runs and 97 RBI’s. If he reaches these numbers, it will be the 6th time in the past 7 season that Ortiz has reached at least 28 home runs and 96 RBI’s. Despite his continual production on an annual basis, everyone is ready to move on for some odd reason. Frankly, I don’t get it. This is an under appreciated player and fans make an assumption that someone like Ramirez can just step in and do what Big Papi does.
Here’s the reality. Hanley Ramirez is not even close to the hitter David Ortiz is. He never has been. In fact, the 28 HR and 96 RBI marks that were referenced in Ortiz’ number have never been reached by Hanley Ramirez. Repeat: Hanley Ramirez has never had a season where he hit 28 HR and 96 RBI’s. He will not come close to those RBI numbers this year. It always seems to be about potential with Hanley. He’s 31 years old. He’s not getting better. He’s getting worse. He doesn’t care enough to get better. What you’re seeing this year is what he is. We will see raw talent with the bat and he will continue to put dents on the wall, but he isn’t going to get you the 30/100 that Ortiz gets on annual basis. So, this is the guy we want as our DH? A .262 hitter with a .748 OPS? You would put up with those numbers for a solid defensive player, but not for this guy.
The misperception of Hanley is very simple. He is viewed as this monster bat who can put up huge numbers. These are the same numbers that have been taken for granted with Ortiz. The reality is that he is not a great hitter this year. He is average at best for an outfielder. He would also be a very average to below average DH with those numbers. In addition, because he doesn’t care, it makes it even more difficult on the team. I’ll say no thank you to Hanley Ramirez as the Red Sox DH when you already have David Ortiz.
So what should the Red Sox do with Hanley? Because there is a void at first base, they need to see if he can play there. There are 48 games left in the season. Why not put him there to see if he can do it? If he can’t, he needs to be moved. It’s as simple as that. There’s no reason to keep him on this team if he can’t play first. He’s not the DH. David Ortiz is the DH until he proves he can’t do it. Hanley is not a left fielder. He can’t play the position. In addition, the Red Sox have a potential gold glove outfield with Castillo, Bradley, and Betts. Here’s hoping that the Sox don’t mess around with that and they go with it. I can’t even imagine Hanley in left field again next year. However, I won’t be shocked if this team does it especially if John Farrell is back.
Hanley Ramirez isn’t David Ortiz and he never will be!