Boston Red Sox Report Cards: Hanley Ramirez

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Now that the 2015 season is in the books, the BoSox Injection staff will hand out their final report cards, grading the performances of each member of the Boston Red Sox roster based on their expectations entering the season.

. Left Fielder. . HANLEY RAMIREZ . F

2015 Stats: .249/.291/.426, 19 HR, 53 RBI, -1.3 WAR

When the Red Sox signed Hanley Ramirez to a 4-year, $88 million deal last winter they expected him to anchor the middle of their lineup as one of the league’s top hitters. Instead he became one of the league’s least valuable players.

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That’s no exaggeration. Ramirez’s -1.3 WAR was next to last among hitters that tallied 300+ at-bats this season. His .717 OPS was the lowest it’s been since an injury plagued 2011, which paved the way for his exit from the Florida Marlins. As poorly as that season went, he still didn’t produce a negative WAR like he did this year.

A significant factor in dragging down his value was his atrocious defense. Ramirez has never been good with the glove, but the transition to left field turned out to be a disaster. Ramirez cost the Red Sox a league-worst 19 runs with his defense this season, despite playing only 93 games in the outfield. The team bailed on the experiment when they shut Ramirez down for the season in late-August and they have already begun the process of preparing him to move to first base next season.

Ramirez got off to a hot start this season, fooling all of us into thinking he was the star we thought the team was paying for. He slashed .293/.341/.659 with 10 home runs and 22 RBI in April, making him one of the league’s best hitters in the opening month.

It all started to go down hill after Ramirez injured his shoulder crashing into an outfield wall while chasing a fly ball in early May. While the injury sidelined him for only three games, it ended up costing him much more than that. Ramirez’s bat wasn’t the same for weeks, as the injury deprived him of his ability to drive the ball.

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Ramirez started to find his swing again in June, hitting .338 for the month with an .855 OPS. Then his season hit another snag when he was drilled on the hand by a line drive, knocking him out of the lineup for the final six games of the month. When he returned a week later he once again wasn’t the same hitter, as the injury effected his grip on the bat, sapping his power.

Another injury in August would finally put an end to Ramirez’s nightmare season. He missed seven straight games after fouling a ball off his foot, but later revealed that his absence had more to do with a nagging shoulder injury that was the result of a throw from left field. When his shoulder failed to respond to treatment from the team’s medical staff, the Red Sox made the decision to shut Ramirez down for the rest of the season.

Ramirez’s future with the club remains shrouded in mystery. While the Red Sox insist that they remain committed to transitioning him to first base, you have to believe that the front office will explore options to move him to another team.

A healthy Ramirez remains one of the league’s most dangerous hitters, which he proved back in April. If he regains strength in his shoulder and receives a clean bill of health then it’s not unreasonable to expect a strong bounce back season in 2016. It just won’t necessarily be with the Red Sox.