Since Hanley Ramirez has excelled in his new position at first base, the Boston Red Sox should not make him the full-time designated hitter in 2017.
Going into the Boston Red Sox’ 2016 season, it was unclear as to whether or not the Hanley Ramirez at first base experiment would work. In a surprising turn of events, Ramirez has excelled at first.
He is currently hitting .311, has an .813 OPS, and has yet to make an error at this new position. Ramirez’s attitude has even changed this year – he seems to be happier and has been slowly winning the fans back over with his cheery demeanor.
Even though Ramirez has excelled this season at first base, his future role with the Red Sox may still change next year. With David Ortiz retiring at the end of the season, Boston will need to find a new bat to fill the designated hitter position for the first time in 15 years. And, as it turns out, some are speculating that Ramirez will fill Ortiz’s shoes in 2017.
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With first base prospect Sam Travis expected to make his MLB debut in 2017, it could work out nicely to have Travis field at first and Ramirez as the Red Sox DH next season. However, despite Ramirez finally finding some offensive success in Boston, he will not be their full-time designated hitter in 2017.
First of all, Hanley has stated that he is happy to be back playing in the infield. He likes playing at his new position and takes pride in how quickly he has learned to field at first. From experience in 2015, Ramirez’s offensive production and attitude will be negatively effected if he is not happy playing at a certain position. Why ruin a good thing by changing his role once again and making Ramirez the appointed designated hitter?
Secondly, if the Sox do decide to make Ramirez the designated hitter for 2017, everyone must be willing to accept the fact that the production at that position will decline. Ortiz’s career OPS is .929 while Ramirez’s is .859. Additionally, Ortiz averages 84 RBI per season while Ramirez’s average is only 61. It would make more sense for the Red Sox to either trade for or acquire a hitter that can more closely match Ortiz’s power at the plate instead of just settling for a batter who they know is going to be a good deal less productive offensively than Ortiz.
Lastly, if Travis is not ready to be a full time MLB player come the 2017 and Boston still makes Ramirez their DH, that would likely mean that third baseman Travis Shaw would move over to first base and Pablo Sandoval would take back over at third. This does not seem like an ideal situation– especially if Sandoval continues to struggle with his weight.
As of right now, it does not make sense to move Ramirez from first base for the 2017 season. Additionally, there have been rumors that the Red Sox are looking at some of those free agents who have big bats such as Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. It is blatantly clear that the Red Sox will need a new DH next year, it just won’t be Hanley Ramirez.