Slugger Hanley Ramirez is putting together a clutch season for the Boston Red Sox.
Entering the 2016 season, it was expected that the Red Sox offense was going to make some noise. We knew David Ortiz was going to provide his usual power numbers, Dustin Pedroia would be a table setter hitting for a high average and that Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts would provide firepower at the top of the lineup. However, one player Red Sox nation was unsure about was Hanley Ramirez.
After a disappointing first season in Boston, expectations were kept low for the 32 year old.
The 2015 season was an odd one for Hanley. As one of the Red Sox marqee free agent signings prior to that season, fans were excited about his arrival but his role on the team was very much up in the air. With Pablo Sandoval poised to take on the third base position, Bogaerts manning shortstop and veteran Mike Napoli taking claim of first, Hanley was the odd man out in the infield. With his bat too impactful to leave out of the lineup, the Hanley Ramirez-Left Field experiment was underway.
This experiment became one that Hanley, the Red Sox and the fans were eager to forget. Only appearing in 105 games, Ramirez hit for a measly .249 average with 19 home runs and only 53 RBIs. Far and away some of the worst numbers he’s posted in his ten-year career.
He was also a defensive nightmare patrolling the green monster in left field. Clearly he was out of place because of his approval from his natural infield position. As the 2015 season wrapped up, it seemed as though Hanley was just another high-priced free agent bust in Boston.
Hanley Ramirez has found his rebirth in 2016
The start of the 2016 season provided hope for a potential rebirth of Hanley. After a dismal outfield tenure, the coaching staff elected to slide Ramirez into the vacant first base position. This move brought him back to the infield where he is far more useful. A position change and a determined mindset to prove people wrong has clearly done the trick for the Red Sox slugger, as he has been one of the most important pieces of the line up this season.
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To say Hanley has bounced back from his underwhelming first season in Boston is an understatement. His whopping 28 home runs and 106 RBI’s to date are a friendly reminder to the baseball world that his bat still has game-changing power.
Furthermore, he has managed to ascend his batting average to nearly .300 at a respectable .294. He has provided stability in the Red Sox batting order that has proved crucial as the team tries to claim the American League East division.
Hanley’s rebirth has expanded beyond the plate. It has surfaced in all facets of the game. Although he was named the opening day starter at first base, Red Sox fans were unsure how he would react to playing a new position. Much to the delight of the coaching staff, Hanley has played gold glove worthy first base this season by posting a remarkable .996 fielding percentage thus far.
Arguably what has been the most refreshing to see from Hanley this season has been his desire and determination.
Last season, he often seemed uninterested and rather lackadaisical every time he took the field. But this season has been a total 180. Ramirez is consistently one of the more energetic and lively players in the Red Sox dugout. He’s also on pace to play in 149 games this season, the most he has played in a year since 2012. Hanley wants to be here and wants to make an impact. And those two factors are what have paid off big ways for the Red Sox.
Looking forward, Hanley will certainly be one of the players the Red Sox depend on the most as the team embarks on the postseason. His flair for the dramatic and consistent timely hitting will be of need. Especially as opposing pitchers will likely do their best to pitch around David Ortiz and Mookie Betts.
This team seems to have a certain magic, much like the past World Series winning teams in the last decade. Their no-quit nature and youthful approach to the game has them both relaxed and confident going into this final stretch of the season. Hopefully, this includes the playoffs. They have the attitude of a World Series caliber team, and Hanley Ramirez is a big reason for it.