Hanley Ramírez

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Hanley Ramírez

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Biographical Information[edit]

Hanley Ramírez won the National League 2006 National League Rookie of the Year Award.

At age 16, he was signed by scout Levy Ochoa for the Boston Red Sox as an amateur free agent. He debuted with the DSL Red Sox in 2001, hitting .345/?/.533. The next year, he moved up to the GCL Red Sox and batted .341/.402/.555; he also put up a .371/.400/.536 line with the Lowell Spinners. He stole only 12 in 21 tries between the two levels. He led the Gulf Coast League in slugging and was second in average behind Rajai Davis. He made the GCL All-Star team at short. Woody Huyke said he was the best prospect in the GCL in 10 years while Edgar Caceres said that Ramírez had no holes in his swing. He was rated the #3 shortstop prospect in baseball by Baseball America, behind Brandon Phillips and Jose Reyes. He was picked as the top prospect that year in both the GCL and the New York-Penn League.

Hanley, at age 20, batted .275/.327/.403 for the Augusta GreenJackets and began to show speed, swiping 36 in 49 tries. Baseball America rated him 6th among South Atlantic League prospects and 5th among shortstops, behind B.J. Upton in both categories; Upton got the All-Star nod in the SAL that year. In 2004, Ramírez bounced back with a .310/.364/.389 line with the Sarasota Red Sox despite a left wrist injury and .310/.360/.512 after joining the Portland Sea Dogs. He stole 24 in 34 tries that year. Only Joel Guzman was rated higher among shortstop prospects by Baseball America while Hanley was picked as the #3 prospect in the Florida State League, behind Guzman and Chad Billingsley.

Ramírez stopped switch-hitting in 2005 and put up a .271/.335/.385 line with Portland and stole only 26 in 39 tries with 6 homers and 66 runs, hardly foreshadowing what would happen the next year. A backup shortstop in the 2005 Futures Game, he singled in his only at-bat for the World team. Baseball America rated him the #3 prospect in the Eastern League after Francisco Liriano and Lastings Milledge and just ahead of Jon Lester, Ryan Zimmerman, Nick Markakis and Jonathan Papelbon. He was also picked as the top defensive shortstop in the EL and made the league All-Star team. He struck out in both of his at-bats for the 2005 Red Sox.

That winter, he was dealt with Harvey Garcia, Jesus Delgado and Anibal Sanchez to the Florida Marlins for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota in what the popular media dismissed as a salary dump by Florida. He hit .292/.353/.480 for the 2006 Marlins as part of the impressive young team and stole 51 bases in 66 tries, scored 119 runs, smacked 46 doubles, 11 triples and 17 homers. He tied Jeff Conine's franchise record for average by a rookie. His 7 leadoff homers were a team career record. Only Cliff Floyd had ever scored more runs by a Marlin and no other Marlins player had ever reached double digits in homers, steals and triples. He was only six doubles behind Johnny Frederick's rookie record and was second in Florida franchise history. He became the first National League rookie to steal 50 bases and score 110 runs. He was the fifth major-leaguer since 1900 to hit over 45 doubles and steal at least 50 bases in a year, following Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Lou Brock and Craig Biggio. He tied for fifth in the 2006 NL in runs, was tenth in hits, tied for 7th in doubles, sixth in triples (right behind two much older guys, Kenny Lofton and Steve Finley) and third in steals (behind Reyes and Juan Pierre). He edged Zimmerman for the NL Rookie of the Year Award in one of the closest races ever.

For the 2007 Marlins, Ramírez batted .332/.386/.562 with 48 doubles, 29 homers, 125 runs, 81 RBI and 51 steals (in 65 attempts). He tied Chase Utley and Edgar Renteria for third in the 2007 NL in average (behind Matt Holliday and Chipper Jones), was 9th in slugging, second in runs (behind Jimmy Rollins), tied Rollins for 2nd in hits (212, 4 behind Holliday), was third in total bases (359, behind Rollins and Holliday), tied Utley for third in doubles (2 behind Holliday and one behind Dan Uggla), was third in steals (behind Jose Reyes and Juan Pierre) and tied Utley for 7th in OPS+ (145). He finished 10th in voting for the 2007 National League MVP. Due to Rollins' stardom, he didn't even take home a Silver Slugger that year.

Hanley was part of the first quarter of infielders on the same club to hit 25 or more homers on the season. With the 2008 Marlins, he teamed with Dan Uggla, 1B Mike Jacobs and 3B Jorge Cantú for the power feat. He hit .301/.400/.540 for the year with 125 runs, 31 home runs, 35 steals (in 47 tries) and 92 walks. He was 5th in the 2008 NL in OBP, led the league in runs (9 ahead of Carlos Beltran), tied Utley for 10th in hits (177), tied Ryan Ludwick for 7th in total bases (318), tied 3 others for 10th in homers, tied Beltran for 6th in walks, tied Matt Kemp for 7th in steals and was 5th in OPS+. He won the Silver Slugger. He also made his first All-Star team. In the 2008 All-Star Game, he started at shortstop for the National League and led off. He opened the game with a strikeout against Cliff Lee. He singled off Joe Saunders in the third. In the 6th, he singled against Justin Duchscherer in the 6th and scored on a fly from Lance Barksdale to put the NL in front 2-0. He also made an error before giving way to Miguel Tejada.

Ramirez (right, wearing number 2) speaks with Jose Reyes during the 2009 WBC during a game against Holland.

Ramírez played for the Dominican national team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, going 2 for 9 with 2 walks. He cost his team a run in their 3-2 loss to the Dutch national team, with a throwing error that brought Yurendell de Caster home. He later hit a sacrifice fly off Alexander Smit to score Miguel Olivo with the game's last run. He was the final out in their second loss to the Netherlands, which eliminated the Dominicans from the tourney much earlier than anticipated.

Hanley hit .342/.410/.543 for the 2009 Marlins with 42 doubles, 24 home runs, 101 runs, 106 RBI and 27 steals (in 35 tries). He became the first NL shortstop to win a batting crown since Dick Groat in 1960, winning by .012 over Pablo Sandoval. He was 6th in the 2009 NL in OBP, 6th in OPS, tied for 8th in runs (with Troy Tulowitzki), third in hits (197, 6 behind Ryan Braun), 8th in total bases (313), tied for 5th in doubles, tied for 5th in RBI (even with Andre Ethier and Ryan Zimmerman), tied for 6th in steals (with Dexter Fowler and David Wright) and 5th in OPS+. He was 0 for 3 as the NL's leadoff man in the 2009 All-Star Game before being replaced by Miguel Tejada.

On May 17, 2010, he was involved in a controversial play in the 2nd inning of a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Trying to field a pop-up hit by Tony Abreu, he accidentally kicked the ball 100 feet into the outfield, then showed a distinct lack of hustle in going to retrieve the ball, allowing Arizona to score two runs in a 5-1 win. Manager Fredi Gonzalez took him out of the game for lack of effort. Ramirez told reporters that he did not consider he had done anything wrong and added that he had lost respect for his manager as a result. He was not in the line-up for the next day's game, but the dispute simmered on, as Gonzalez made it clear that the benching was due to attitude issues, while Ramírez insisted that it was because he was recovering from a bruise on his ankle. Hanley apologized to his teammates before the game of May 19, after Hall of Famers Tony Perez and Andre Dawson had a talk with him; he was back in the line-up that day. However, manager Gonzalez lost his job a few weeks later, with this incident being brought forwards as a sign that he had lost control of his players. For his part, Ramirez hit .300/.378/.475 with 21 homers, 76 RBI and 92 runs scored in 142 games for the season. It was the first time in five full seasons that he had failed to reach 100 runs scored or 30 doubles.

Controversy continued to trail Ramirez in 2011. After manager Edwin Rodriguez resigned on June 19th and was replaced by Jack McKeon, McKeon, in his first move, benched Ramirez for one game, giving him a very direct message about his lack of hustle on defense and in running the bases. Teammate Logan Morrison also chipped in, confronting Hanley for his habit of always showing up at the ballpark at the very last minute, after all of his teammates have already arrived. Ramirez had opened himself up for criticism by playing poorly in the early going, hitting only .211 over his first 57 games. He improved slightly after that, but finished an injury-riddled year at .243 in 92 games, with 16 doubles and 10 homers.

In 2012, the Marlins moved to their new downtown Miami ballpark and adopted a new name - the Miami Marlins. Determined to make a splash, they spent lavishly on three free agents during the off-season, Ps Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell and SS Jose Reyes. That last signing meant that Hanley switched positions to 3B that season, Reyes being a much better fielder. However, he continued to struggle with the bat and in late July, after 92 games - the same number he had played the previous year - his batting line was very similar: .246, with 18 doubles and 14 homers. At that point trade rumors started swelling around his name, especially after the Marlins indicated they considered the season lost when they sent veterans Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers for a trio of youngsters on July 23rd. There were questions about Ramirez's value in a trade, however, given his well-publicized attitude problems and defensive woes, and his declining offensive production over the past two years. However, the Los Angeles Dodgers were willing to take a chance, acquiring him in a trade on July 25th, along with P Randy Choate, in return for Ps Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough. In his debut for his new team that day, Ramirez went 2 for 4 with a walk, a RBI and a run scored. While he was at third base, Manager Don Mattingly indicated that the Dodgers would want Ramirez to return to shortstop in the near future. Seemingly revived by the change of uniforms, he was the hero of the annual Civil Rights Game against the Atlanta Braves on August 18th. He hit a solo homer off Ben Sheets in the 2nd inning that was immediately followed by similar shots by teammates James Loney and Luis Cruz in the span of four pitches, then in the 6th, he hit another shot of Sheets, this one good for three runs as Los Angeles won, 6-2, with the four homers being their only base hits on the day. He ended up hitting .271 with 10 homers in 64 games for the Dodgers, for a combined batting line of .257/.322/.437 with 24 homers and 92 RBI in 157 games.

Ramirez started at third base for the Dominican Republic national team that won the 2013 World Baseball Classic. However, he injured his thumb diving for a ball in the championship game on March 19th. The injury required surgery, putting him on the shelf for six weeks. He was activated by the Dodgers on April 29th and struck out as a pinch-hitter in his first appearance of the year. He made only three starts before being felled by an injury again, this time puling a hamstring while running the bases on May 3rd. However, when he came back on June 4th, he was red hot, as he hit .375/.414/.672 in June. While rookie Yasiel Puig, who had a tremendous first month in the majors, got most of the attention, Hanley was just as important to the Dodgers beginning to play well after a dreadful start. Starting on June 22nd, the team went on an extended streak of playing .800 ball. He kept up the good work by hitting .365 in July and while he injured himself again on August 4th, banging his shoulder while diving for a pop-up in the stands at Wrigley Field, the Dodgers did not miss a step in his absence. When he returned to the starting line-up ten days later, they had built a 5 1/2 game lead over their nearest pursuers, the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was the goat of the August 18th loss that ended both a ten-game winning streak, and a stretch in which the team had won 42 of 50 games: in the 9th inning against the Philadelphia Phillies that day, he committed a pair of errors, the second on a potential inning-ending double play grounder by Michael Young that allowed the winning run to score in a 3-2 loss. However, on September 19th, he was the hero when the Dodgers clinched the NL West title, hitting a pair of homers against the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 7-6 win. He had played sparingly in the previous week because of hamstring issues, but was consistently outstanding every time he suited up for a game, scoring 3 runs in a 9-3 win on the 17th before his two-homer performance gave him 20 on the year in the title-clinching game. He finished the year with a batting line of .345/.402/.638 in 86 games, good for an OPS+ of 190. In spite of missing almost half the season, he managed to collect 25 doubles and 20 homers and was the team's most dangerous offensive player any time he was in the line-up. In spite of the time missed, the 20 homers were a record for a Dodgers shortstop, although the mark would not stand for long, being bettered by rookie Corey Seager in 2016. He was still not 100% in the postseason, suffering from a cracked rib, but still went 8 for 16 with 6 extra-base hits in the NLDS as the Dodgers disposed of the Atlanta Braves in four games.

Hanley again missed time with injuries in 2014, playing 128 games during which he hit .283 with 13 homers and 71 RBIs. The Dodgers repeated as NL West champs and he again hit well in the postseason, going 6 for 14 (.429) with a double in the NLDS, but the Dodgers lost out to the the St. Louis Cardinals in that series. He became a free agent after the season and on November 23rd, media reported that he had reached a five-year deal for around $90 million to re-join his original organization, the Boston Red Sox. It was unclear however where the Red Sox were slating him to play, as most observers considered that he was by then only a borderline major league shortstop. In fact, he was moved to left field in 2015, but his fielding there proved problematic as well. With the bat, he started off strong as he hit a pair of homers on opening day on April 6th and was hitting .293 with 10 homers and 22 RBIs at the end of the month. He cooled down markedly after that and played his last game on August 26th, finishing the year at .249 with 19 homers and 53 RBIs. The Red Sox may have been interested in trading him after the season, but his big contract meant there were no takers, and Boston decided to use him at first base in 2016. He settled down at the position and while his production was not outstanding during the first half, the excellent play by his teammates allowed him to keep under the radar. He had a great game on July 20th when he connected for three homers and drove in six runs, both career highs, to lead Boston to an 11-7 win over the San Francisco Giants. He also flashed the leather, initiating a key double play with the bases loaded and nobody out in the 6th. His bat got red hot when it mattered most, in early September with the Red Sox leading a tight three-way race for the division lead. He hit 9 home runs in a stretch of 16 games, including a walk-off shot to cap a dramatic five-run 9th inning comeback against the New York Yankees on September 15th. He then added two more homers on September 18th to give the Sox a four-game sweep that virtually eliminated the Yankees from postseason contention. He finished the year at .286 with 30 homers and 111 RBIs, then went 3 for 12 with a pair of doubles as the Red Sox were swept by the Cleveland Indians in the Division Series.

Hanley moved to DH in 2017, following the retirement of David Ortiz, but after his hitting renaissance the previous year, his numbers fell back significantly. He did hit 23 homers, which put him one behind Mookie Betts for the club lead, but his batting average of .242 and his 63 RBIs were a big disappointment. His OPS+ fell to 93, very poor for a player whose only contribution was with the bat. In spite of a fall in power numbers across the board, the Red Sox managed to repeat as division winners, but again made an early exit from the postseason, being defeated in four games by the Houston Astros in the Division Series. Ramirez was the team's best hitter in the series, going 8 for 14 (.571). In 2018, he alternated between first base and DH, after the Red Sox had added slugging OF J.D. Martinez as free agent during spring training, giving them six players to occupy five spots (the three outfield positions, first base and DH). New manager Alex Cora rotated all six through the first eight weeks of the season, but Hanley's production continued to disappoint, as he was hitting .254 with 6 homers and 29 RBIs after 45 games, his OPS+ having now fallen to 88+. It was still a surprise that when Dustin Pedroia came off the disabled list after a prolonged stay on May 25th, he was the one to pay, being designated for assignment to make room on the roster. By ending his tenure early, the Red Sox were able to get out from under a $22 million vesting option that would have kicked in as he remained a regular all season, so they were on the hook for just $15 million. Still, the option basically made Hanley untradeable, so the question was which team would then sign him for the major league minimum once he had been released. The release was made official on June 1st. Ironically, that was a day on which the Sox could have used his services, as they placed Betts on the disabled list that day. He did not play again that season, thus missing Boston's run to a World Series title.

He did not retire, however, and in spring training in 2019, he signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians. he made the team out of spring training and hit .184 in 16 games, with 2 homers and 8 RBIs, being used exclusively at DH. On April 23rd, he opted for free agency after clearing waivers when the Indians tried to send him down to the minors; he had been designated for assignment when SS Francisco Lindor had been activated from the injured list a few days earlier.

Sources: 2002-2006 Baseball Almanacs, Mlb.com, World Baseball Classic

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2006 NL Rookie of the Year Award
  • 2006 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
  • 3-time NL All-Star (2008-2010)
  • 2-time NL Silver Slugger Award (2008 & 2009)
  • NL Batting Average Leader (2009)
  • NL Runs Scored Leader (2008)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 7 (2007-2009, 2012, 2013, 2016 & 2017)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2008 & 2016)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (2009 & 2016)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (2006-2009)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (2007)
  • 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 2 (2006 & 2007)

NL Rookie of the Year
2005 2006 2007
Ryan Howard Hanley Ramirez Ryan Braun

Further Reading[edit]

  • Nathalie Alonso: "Rejuvenated Hanley optimistic about 2018: Shoulder surgery has Red Sox confident about rebound for slugger", mlb.com, December 3, 2017. [1]
  • Ian Browne: "Hanley confident he'll pick up fellow infielders: Former shortstop excited about move to first, believes slimming down will help", mlb.com, January 23, 2016. [2]
  • Ian Browne: "Red Sox part ways with Hanley: Veteran infielder designated for assignment to make room for Pedroia", mlb.com, May 25, 2018. [3]

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