Hanley Ramirez stepped up to the plate with two outs in the fifth inning yesterday, set to face left-hander Cole Hamels for the third time. With an 0-1 count, he ripped a line drive into the left-center bleachers for a solo home run, starting his Red Sox career in style. Then in the ninth inning, he did it again, this time driving a ball off the foul pole in left field for a grand slam and ending his day 2-4 with a pair of home runs and 5 RBIs.
Those kind of outstanding performances could be something for Red Sox fans to become accustomed as Ramirez, who signed with the Red Sox on a 4 year deal worth $88M during the offseason, brings an impressive offensive pedigree to the table.
It’s not often that a player making $22M per season can be considered a bargain but the Red Sox might just have one in Ramirez. In this day of dominant pitching and decreased power, a bat like Ramirez is a huge addition to Boston’s lineup. A career .300/.373/.500 hitter despite playing the majority of his career in pitcher-friendly parks, Ramirez will move to a hitter-friendly (and specifically, right-handed hitter-friendly) stadium in Fenway Park, and could be in line for huge production over the next few years.
And that’s not even considering his move to left field.
By moving from shortstop to left field, Ramirez is able to remove a weakness from his game and potentially add a strength if he adjusts well to Fenway Park’s unique left field. Plus, left field will take a significantly lesser physical toll on his body, which could be instrumental as Ramirez has missed major time in three of the last four seasons.
Of course, it’s always unwise to take small sample sizes into account in baseball, but even taking away his huge Opening Day performance, the early signs have been positive with Ramirez. He has gelled with his Red Sox teammates, forming the “three amigos” alongside David Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval and has been tireless in his work in left field according to teammates and the coaching staff.
It will take some more spectacular performances for Ramirez to live up to his contract, much less become a bargain, but it’s not out of the question for Ramirez. We’re talking about one of the most consistently excellent players in baseball over the past decade, a former Rookie of the Year, and a three-time All-Star. Now moving to Boston, the team that originally signed him from the Dominican Republic, Ramirez could easily add another successful chapter to his phenomenal career.