At the start of spring training last season, Hanley Ramirez and former double-play partner Dan Uggla made a wager to see who would have the worst numbers come the All-Star break. It was determined that the loser would buy the winner a “surf and turf” dinner at Black Angus. Neither did at all well in the first half, but with the muscular Uggla hitting well below his weight on July 10, victory was his. He could almost taste the filet mignon and grilled prawns (additionally he would have a works baked potato, steamed broccoli, a Caesar salad with extra croutons, and maybe a nice Pinot Noir; Uggla envisions his meals to the finest detail). Ramirez saw the writing on the wall, and through a club-appointed interpreter, offered him double-or-nothing to extend the bet to the end of the season. Uggla looked at his own 43/15/34/.185 line and accepted the new terms, figuring his season was irretrievably in the toilet. By the end of September, however, Uggla was the hottest hitter in the NL, while Hanley hadn’t played in two months. Uggla felt so bad for Hanley that he upped the ante and treated him to dim sum at P.F. Chang’s.
Entering 2011, Ramirez was right on the heels of Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera in virtually all pre-draft fantasy rankings, checking in at number three across the board. He embodied the definition of a “five-tool player” and, because he played the demanding shortstop position, was regarded by some as the best player in baseball. A creationist might say that 2011 was a contemporary parable to teach Hanley the valuable lesson of humility, because clearly the game came to him too easily. A creationist also would say that the Earth is 6,000 years-old and sheet-like in shape.
Ramirez’s numbers from 2010 (92/21/76/.300/32) look good on the surface, but had you done your homework, fantasy degenerate, you’d have seen the not-so-hidden red flag portentously nestled right in the middle of his 2010 stat line: his OPS. From 2007-09 his On-base-Plus-Slugging was .950. In 2010 it fell 100 points to .853. That’s a huge drop-off, but easier to understand when you factor in a career-high GB% (51.0) and career-lows in LD% (16.3) and FB% (32.7). Elbow and shoulder injuries, two afflictions he was dealing with, will sap a hitter’s bat speed and Ramirez was rolling over on pitches he would otherwise have pounded to the gaps. Evidently the injuries he sustained in 2010 lingered on into 2011 and his slash line (55/10/45/.243, .712 OPS) looked great– had his name been Andujar Cedeno.
Much has been made of Ramirez making the switch from shortstop to third base. But anyone disaffected enough to loaf after a wayward blooper after soccer-kicking it into the corner the way he did against the Diamondbacks probably won’t let his position afield bother him in the batter’s box. He’ll probably never again have a year like he did in 2009, but if he’s healthy there’s no reason to expect he won’t be productive. Only he knows how he really feels physically. His slash line for this coming season is anybody’s guess, and I’ll offer mine here: 84/22/90/.285/25.