Hanley Ramirez‘s head is probably spinning so fast it resembles the scene in the Exorcist. But if he wants to sort out why he was traded from the Right Coast to the Left Coast, from Miami to Los Angeles, all he has to do is look in the mirror. Periodically, players are polled about who the most overrated players in the sport are and at this point not only should Ramirez lead the majors, he should have a couple of stars next to his name emphasizing it.
This may or may not be the same poll, but if a vote was taken to list the greatest underachievers, Ramirez would be tops on that. Now that the Marlins, a team that seemed likely to be his home for the duration of his career, gave up on him and shuttled him to the Dodgers, it should dawn on Ramirez that it’s time to stop whining, play hard, and make himself useful. If he’s smart, he’ll do that and he might well end up on the National League pennant winner and in the World Series.
I’m not even a Marlins fan and I’ve been wondering what the heck Ramirez has been doing for the last couple of seasons. It seems like just yesterday he earned the praises of all knowledgeable baseball people and was proclaimed a budding, long-term star. He was the 2006 National League rookie of the year and a three-time All-Star. Now it seems that he won the NL batting title a century ago, not as recently as 2009 when he batted .342.
A year later, in 2010, Ramirez dropped off in most statistics, but he still hit .300 with 21 homers, 76 RBIs, and 32 stolen bases. But he began to fall out of favor after that. Injuries limited Ramirez to 92 games last year and he hit .243. The Marlins invested a lot of money and energy to make 2012 a special season. The team opened a new ballpark. The team spent big bucks for free agents Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle and hired a new manager in Ozzie Guillen. But the team wasn’t winning and in 94 games in Miami Ramirez was hitting .249.
Worse, the arrival of Reyes displaced Ramirez at shortstop, where he wanted to stay and play, and shifted him to third base. When the New York Yankees signed Alex Rodriguez he knew Derek Jeter was staying at short and Rodriguez, almost surely on his way to a Hall of Fame conclusion to his career, has been a third baseman ever since. Ramirez grumbled all of the way and the Marlins got fed up with him. It’s one thing to pop off when you’re hitting .340, quite another when you’re hitting .240.
Right now we all have to wonder if the Hanley Ramirez who won that batting title was just a one-year fluke at that level of the game or he can replicate such success with the Dodgers.
The guy should still be in his prime at 28 years old and the Dodgers are hoping the change of scenery to Los Angeles will spark Ramirez into playing the way he has at his best. Is Ramirez going to be an overpaid flash-in-the-pan, or is he going to be rejuvenated and help lead the Dodgers to a championship? We should find out soon.