Paul Sancya/Associated Press
Hanley Ramirez is happy and healthy entering 2014.
With Matt Kemp still recovering from two offseason surgeries and Yasiel Puig still maturing, both on and off the field, Hanley Ramirez may be the Dodgers’ best position player. If that proves true by season’s end, Ramirez will soon be paid like it as well.
Ramirez is entering the final year of a six-year, $70 million deal that he originally signed with the Miami Marlins. At age 30, he is still young enough to secure an eight-figure contract; one that he hopes will keep him in a Dodgers uniform for the rest of his career.
If Ramirez stays relatively healthy and hits the way he did in 2013, he’ll more than likely get his wish. Despite playing in just 86 regular season games last year, Ramirez produced a spectacular .345/.402/.638 slash line while adding 20 home runs, 57 RBI and 62 runs scored.
In a little more than half of a season, Ramirez had an oWAR of 5.2 (according to baseball-reference.com), his highest total since 2009.
Ramirez’s revival at the plate carried over into the postseason. He led Los Angeles to the National League Championship Series by hitting .500 with six RBI during the Dodgers’ three-games-to-one victory over the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series.
Since winning the 2009 NL batting crown and finishing second in that year’s MVP race, a variety of injuries have derailed Ramirez’s rise to superstardom. However, he reported to camp this year healthier than he’s been in years.
MLB Network’s Dan Plesac raved about Ramirez during his Dodgers report for the network’s 30 Clubs in 30 Days series, which aired last Tuesday night.
With any luck, Ramirez will appear in 150-plus games for the sixth time in his nine-year career. If he can play that much while producing near his 2013 level, Ramirez will find his name at the top of quite a few NL MVP ballots next fall.