by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The news that the Red Sox re-signed Mitch Moreland quickly brought into question the future of Hanley Ramirez. Initially penciled in as the first baseman, Ramirez now appears destined to be the designated hitter… That is unless the team pursues J.D. Martinez (or a comparable hitter), as has been rumored, which would provide the team with an excess of outfielders.
The question now is if Ramirez can be the solution in terms of a big bat, after he struggled to hit .242 with 23 HR last year. A shoulder injury likely caused a lot of his issues, and offseason surgery could help.
We generally take these offseason quotes with a grain of salt, but this tweet from Rob Bradford is still nice to read:
Hanley Ramirez on shoulder surgery: ‘I felt a difference right away … Now I can have that Hanley Ramirez swing that I always had with the Marlins. That’s what I feel’
That would indicate that he wasn’t using the same approach that had made him successful in the past. That certainly appeared to be the case, as these underlying metrics indicate:
Fly Ball Rate – 37.1%
It’s not an outrageous number, but it is higher than in recent years and could indicate an attempt to hit for more power
SwStr% – 11.6%
This was a career worst mark, and indicates a more aggressive approach. Obviously compensating for an injury would have an impact, as would trying to hit for more power.
O-Swing% – 32.6%
Not quite a career worst, it was significantly higher than his career 27.0% mark and again indicates a more aggressive approach.
Are any of those numbers of particular concern on their own? Absolutely not, though when coupled together and with the injury they came together for the disastrous season. If he truly is healthy its easy to imagine things going back to the way they were (given his extensive track record). Is that enough to excite us?
As a first baseman (where he will be eligible) no one is going to seek out a player who appears destined to top out hitting .275ish with 25-30 HR. Those aren’t bad numbers, but they also aren’t great. Last season there were 18 qualified first baseman who hit at least 25 HR. Of those 12 hit .265 or better. In other words, compared to others at the position the numbers are rather pedestrian.
Could he have a monster season? Maybe, but it is not something we would be banking on. Consider him more of a back end option and last resort, even with the expected “resurgence”. Plus, what if the Red Sox make another big move and can’t find a taker? The risk simply outweighs the reward.
Source – Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections: