Hanley Ramirez had a terrific 2016 season for the Red Sox, but often gets lost in the shuffle among the other superstars. What is his fantasy outlook heading into 2017?
The Boston Red Sox are heading into the postseason as the favorites to win the AL pennant. While Rick Porcello’s emergence is certainly a huge part of their success, Boston’s offense is their calling card. Led by breakout seasons from Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr., the never-ending consistency of David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts, it is easy to see why expectations are high in October. But, what about the season from Hanley Ramirez?
Ramirez is a player that will always generate a lot of discussion in fantasy circles. Since his pro season in 2006, Ramirez has proven to be a dynamic offensive threat, yet a talent that can be aggravating to own as well. If we look past his great Florida Marlins seasons, and just to the last handful of years, Ramirez still produces when on the field.
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Heading into the 2016 season owners were seemingly avoiding Ramirez as the possible headache of picking him was not worth the it. It did not help that it looked as though he was a man without a position and was coming off a, .249/19 HR/53 RBI/.717 OPS line in 2015. The talent was still there, but fantasy owners were just not thrilled investing the draft stock.
All Hanley Ramirez is doing this season, is proving to experts and pundits alike, that his decline was largely overrated. For the 2016 regular season, Ramirez posted a, .286/29 HR/110 RBI/9 SB/.860 OPS/80 R line, over 146 games. His supporting class is the best he has ever played with and drives up his counting stats, but that should not overshadow his rebound.
Looking at just the surface stats, batting in the middle of the Red Sox order did wonders for his RBI and R totals. The one outlier from Ramirez’s 2015 season, were the 32 XBH that he was able to muster. He shattered that mark in 2016 though, notching 58 in 2016.
Digging deeper into his batted ball data, it was clear that a healthy season did Ramirez wonders. His 32.6% FB rate and 37% Hard contact rates were more in line with his prime years, and served as the base for the power uptick over the second half. He only had a .316 BABIP too, so it was not as though his AVG spike was a fluke either.
Ramirez still struck out 119 times while only notching 59 Walks. That will always be a flaw in his game, but that Walk total was his highest since 2009. Ramirez also handed RHP better than in years past, batting .267 against them while homering 18 times. He crushed LHP to the tune of a .346 clip, further proving that he is still one of the best lefty mashers in the game.
There will be many experts that deem Ramirez a bust candidate heading into the 2017 season. They will cite his relative good health this season, and the fact that he needed a 10 HR month in September to pad his stat line as a knock on his value. Astute owners should be able to see through his batted ball stats and his supporting class, that his floor is incredibly safe next season. Write it in pen: Ramirez is a top-10 first basemen heading into 2017.