The situation with Hanley Ramirez is quickly coming to a head. Missing time due to injuries is one thing, but what about his struggles at the plate? If that wasn’t enough, the return of Jack McKeon as the Marlins manager has quickly resulted in some significant changes for the franchise, and seemingly in just one day.
“Marlins beat writer Juan C. Rodriguez on Twitter said: McKeon says he didn’t start Hanley because he didn’t like the way he was running Sunday.
"Columnist Mike Berardino: Hanley on if he knows why he’s not in the lineup: ‘No. But I know I gotta stretch right now, that’s what I know.’”
Former manager Edwin Rodriguez had been sitting Ramirez in day games following night games, but that clearly isn’t the case here (considering the game was set to start at 7 p.m.). Is it that McKeon doesn’t think Ramirez is healthy? Or is it that he feels like Ramirez simply lacked hustle on Sunday? That remains to be seen (though Ramirez did appear as a pinch hitter yesterday).
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Tom D’Angelo of The Palm Beach Post reported:
“Ramirez, the three-time All-Star arrived late to the clubhouse Monday, showing up after McKeon called the team together for a 3:30 p.m. meeting, according to people in the organization.”
That easily could’ve played a role into the decision as well. However, whether it is due to hustle or not, the fact of the matter is that Ramirez has been a bitter disappointment. Just look at the numbers through Sunday:
.201 Batting Average (40 Hits)
4 Home Runs
12 Stolen Bases
.300 On Base Percentage
.296 Slugging Percentage
.231 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Maybe the simple fact is that McKeon wanted to get Ramirez’ attention, because what Rodriguez was doing clearly wasn’t working. At this point simply moving him around the lineup, from third to leadoff to sixth just isn’t enough. Something needed to be done and perhaps a simple benching will do the trick.
Obviously, bad luck is one of the issues plaguing Ramirez, but it isn’t the only one. He has just 11 extra base hits (7 doubles, 4 home runs). Through June 20, 2010 he had amassed 15 doubles, two triples and 11 home runs, a total of 28 extra base hits.
The problem is, some of the issues actually appear to date back to 2010, despite last season’s success. Just look at the groundball rate over the past two seasons:
2010 – 51.0 percent
2011 – 54.1 percent
Those types of numbers certainly don’t lend themselves to much power. It actually places him 11th among players who have qualified for the batting title, with the likes of Elvis Andrus, Alcides Escobar, Kosuke Fukudome and Miguel Tejada. When you are talking about power, that is far from the group of players you want to be associated with.
Obviously, he hit 21 home runs last season (courtesy of a 32.7 percent fly ball rate and a 14.2 percent HR/FB), so he can certainly generate enough power to grab our attention. However, it’s not quite the 33 home runs he put up a few years back, and you have to start to wonder if he will get back to that level.
His line drive rate has actually been trending down for the past three seasons from 19.8 percent in ’09 to 16.3 percent last season to 14.5 percent to date. Another good reason as to why his power and overall production are down.
The question is, who is the real Hanley Ramirez? Obviously he isn’t a .200 hitter, but looking for him to be a 30/30 player year in and year out simply may not be the case either.
Should you give up hope on him? Nope. Should you even consider trading him? Probably not, because you aren’t going to get anywhere near market value. Sooner or later he is going to start hitting better luck, meaning the average is going to rise. While he may not be a 30-home run hitter, 20 to 25 is certainly realistic. Throw in some speed and you have a must-own player.
Maybe McKeon’s message will set in. Maybe, just maybe, this is the start of what we have been waiting for. It certainly couldn’t hurt.
What are your thoughts of Ramirez? Will this benching be a wake-up call? What type of production do you see from him for the rest of 2011?
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