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Saturday, November 29, 2014

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: HANLEY RAMIREZ SS/OUTFIELDER BOSTON RED SOX

The Boston Red Sox clearly are the champions of the early offseason so far and they did almost all of their work in one day when they signed free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval and shortstop Hanley Ramirez to separate contracts hovering at or just below $100 million each.  We already discussed the outlook on Sandoval when it comes to 2015 fantasy baseball and so today is a good time to look in on what the aging but still terrific Ramirez can do this season.  Let's dig in and find out.

Ramirez is back where it all started for him as he was a prime Red Sox shortstop prospect before he was moved to the Miami Marlins for ace SP Josh Beckett.  Ramirez of course went out and became the top hitting shortstop in the game during his stay with the Marlins, to the point where he was considered the number 1 player overall in fantasy baseball after he put up a ridiculous 2008 season (.301/33 HR/125 R/67 RBI/35 SB), becoming a five-tool hitting bonanza.  That monstrous 2008 campaign was the height of where Ramirez went with his hitting however as he has not reached the 30 home run mark since.  However Ramirez remained a top-end first round fantasy baseball shortstop who stole as many as 32 bases in 2010 and recorded a .342 batting average in 2009 and than a .345 mark with the Los Angeles Dodgers just in 2013.  Few players in all of baseball have more natural athleticism and skill than does Ramirez but unfortunately that is not the whole story here.

Throughout his career, Ramirez has been a classic prima donna player who had run-ins with the Miami management and the front office that helped get him shipped off the Dodgers.  In addition, Ramirez has become quite injury prone over the last five years, having failed to log even 450 at-bats in three of the last four seasons.  Ramirez is still young enough at 31 to think his body is beginning to betray him but the fact of the matter is that his injury issues need to be factored into his draft price.  The risk of injury is also however somewhat offset by the position eligibility boost Ramirez will gain this season as the Red Sox plan to use him as the team's everyday leftfielder.  Thus Ramirez will now carry both eligibility in the outfield and at shortstop which his nothing but a good thing for his overall value.  You really want to play Ramirez at shortstop however as he is a top-two guy there while in the outfield he is more of a top-15 guy. 

Getting back to the numbers and what we could see in 2015, Ramirez has been a bit wild in his production lately.  He is a career .300 hitter who has put up .345 and .283 marks the last two seasons which make it tough to pin down where Ramirez could finish up there.  Ramirez has hit .283 or worse in three of the last four years though so count on something between .280 and .290 as a good projection.  As far as the power and speed is concerned, Ramirez has hit between 20 and 24 home runs in seasons where he was generally healthy enough to get a solid amount of plate appearances.  You can add 2 or 3 more home runs however due to Ramirez moving to a prime hitting ballpark for the first time in his career after spending his previous years in pitching-dominant Miami and Los Angeles.  With regards to the speed, Ramirez is still interested in running but not in the 30 stolen base sense.  Ramirez has done for 20, 21, 10, and 14 in the last four years which again is where we have to project him going forward.  As far as the rest of the package is concerned, Ramirez will likely pick up some more RBI and even more runs hitting in the Boston lineup and in Fenway Park. 

When you look at Ramirez overall, he locks in as the top shortstop option for 2015 fantasy baseball.  Troy Tulowitzki has ceded the top spot due to his ridiculous amount of injuries over the years and advancing age as well.  Ramirez can still contribute across all five hitting categories, albeit not to the tune of his early Miami years.  I am very bullish on Ramirez for 2015 as he figures to be extra motivated in a veteran Red Sox clubhouse that will keep him in line.  Look for a big season out of Ramirez as long as he can stay healthy enough to stay on the field.

2015 PROJECTION:  .291 24 HR 90 R 73 RBI 19 SB


 
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