One of the biggest crimes in American sports media is the fact that people are trying to be correct instead of simply trying to get it right. What ends up happening is there are a lot of incorrect opinions and everyone tries to cover their tracks just in case they happen to be wrong. In baseball this concept happens more frequently in a sport that you are designed to fail at least 70 percent of the time. Lets face it baseball is a weird sport and sometimes things simply don’t go your way. This facet often gets people to panic and major media sports writers throw out ridiculous items just to try to be Mr. Right. The subject I will be discussing in this piece is about the infamous Hanley Ramirez, who has been subject to negative publicity since signing a 4 year, 88 million deal with Boston in 2014. One of my favorite childhood players was Manny Ramirez whose tactics played favorably leading the Red Sox to two world series titles. Is there any reason to believe Hanley Ramirez can’t do the same around this young Red Sox core?
Why People Shouldn’t Have Panicked Over Hanley’s 2015 Season:
Don’t get me wrong I love analytics and believe there is a need for them in the game of baseball, but on one hand there are some things those numbers simply can’t detect. On of baseball’s greatest failures is the game has lost its personal touch. In regards to Hanley Ramirez his numbers and joyful smile paint the picture for the teams performance. In 2015 the Red Sox came in with high expectations but the team failed to deliver. Hanley’s stats corresponded with that. After an April where Ramirez hit 10 home runs and played quite well his season went in the tank after the team failed to perform. Whether this notion is right or wrong don’t you think it is entirely possible some players can’t perform in losing situations. History has proven this notion correct when looking at Ramirez’s career. Remember when the Marlins signed Jose Reyes to steal Hanley’s short stop position? Remember when the Dodgers signed rookie Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig? You might but I’m Ramirez does. Hanley’s last season in Miami corresponded with a .246 average compared to his Dodger days when the team was competitive his batting average was .346. When the team is performing Hanley is performing. Its really quite simple, if Hanley Ramirez is smiling the team is winning. The 2015 Red Sox were mired by horrific pitching and Ramirez wasn’t going to put his all out on the table for a losing team. Whether you agree with the notion or not Hanley’s best is worth the antics and everyone knows it.
The Position Change:
Let’s face it moving a career shortstop to the outfield who has a short attention span to begin with was always a horrible idea. Would you want someone with ADHD stuck in a boring job as your local pharmacist? Probably not, lets combine that with the fact of Ramirez’s checkered medical history placing him a position to play a 38 foot wall in an area in which players often collide with should have gotten former gm Ben Cherington fired a long time ago. The position change to first base was however always a good idea and should have been suggested long before they handed the reigns over to Mike Napoli who hasn’t really performed well in years. Through 32 games Ramirez hasn’t committed an error but of course why didn’t people see this coming? Prince Fielder plays a fine first base; The same can be said for John Jaso who played catcher his entire career. Not everyone can play first but a guy of Hanley Ramirez’s athletic ability whose always played short stop was always a guy capable of making the transition (Quite well to add to that matter). Playing first base becoming more involved has also transpired in an added sense of urgency around the bases which is always a positive as well. Again it goes back to the fact that baseball writers think they are always right instead of connecting the dots and trying to get it right. A career .300 hitter who’s suddenly involved in every play with the team drenched in first place success, that was always going to work and anyone who ever doubted his success needs to get his credentials evaluated.
2016 & Beyond:
Coming into today’s game Ramirez is batting an impressive .313 average through 32 games played. In a Red Sox offense that recently average 10 runs per game over the course of a 7 game home stand, Ramirez has become the main cog in the offense providing needed protection to David Ortiz in his final season. Why have teams not walked Big Papi more often despite his incredible final season? Its because they can’t, baseball managers are aware Hanley may be just as likely to provide that devastating hit. The key for Hanley to keep up his success will be to continue to feed off of the Red Sox young players who keep Ramirez young at heart. Guys like Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Christian Vazquez, and Mookie Betts are the future and make this team World Series contenders. (Still not getting it, maybe this video will help). With more young talent filled with one of the best farm systems in all of baseball in Andrew Benintendi, Rafeal Devers, and Yoan Moncada this Red Sox team will likely contend for years to come. Are you one of those foolhardy baseball fans that believes the Red Sox copied the KC Royals key to success? Again try to connect the dots and get the situation right, Boston’s offense has scored the most runs, have the highest batting average, and have the highest slugging percentage in all of baseball thanks in part to Hanley Ramirez and his enigmatic presence on this young Red Sox team (this is something the Royals have never done by the way!) The Red Sox will likely need to add a starting pitcher at some point as their rotation has probably cost them at least 5-6 wins already despite their historic offensive rate. At any rate I urge you to takeaway one thing from this piece. Do your own research the media often times paints a picture that is flat out wrong. While baseball is a game of numbers the next time you watch the Sox play check out the clubhouse. If Hanley Ramirez is smiling it means the team is winning and more of the same will likely transpire for the first place Red Sox.