Hanley Ramirez, oh how you frustrate us. At one point one of the most explosive and exciting hitters in the game, Ramirez’s tenure in Boston has been up-and-down, to say the least, with an extremely productive 2016 sandwiched between an underwhelming 2015 and 2017.
Hanley plays baseball with the spirit of a child; carefree, somewhat lackadaisically, with a smile almost permanently planted across his face. And that’s all fine and well when he’s batting .286 with 30 HR and 111 RBI (as he did in said 2016), but when he bats at a sub-.250 average (‘15 and ‘17) and is seemingly non-existent in clutch situations, the Boston media and fans will not be pleased.
Ramirez’s wild inconsistency has been well-documented, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t be a valuable member of the club. The ability to hit it to the gaps are part of his pedigree, the Green Monster perfectly suits his right-handed power swing, and he’s always had the talent to produce at the highest level, but does he have the commitment and attitude to succeed?
If he can bounce back in 2018 and regain some of the form he displayed in ‘16, Red Sox Nation will be happy to hear his name called over the PA system every day. If he can’t do that, however, he’ll continue to hear the groans and rumbles from the Fenway faithful, something his seemingly sensitive psyche had trouble dealing with last year.
With the DH spot more or less off the table (J.D. Martinez) and a healthy Mitch Moreland challenging for 1st base, plus an option clause in his contract that would call for his retention in 2019 if he reaches 497 plate appearances (something the Sox do not want), I’d expect to see less of Ramirez than in previous years. Now, that obviously doesn’t mean that Alex Cora will limit his (or anyone’s, for that matter) at-bats at the expense of winning just because of a contract clause, but it’s still something to consider.
GM Dave Dombrowski could always try to leverage him at the trade deadline, but with the option clause mentioned above and his recent performances it would probably be a an undersell.