Red Sox: Hanley had a pretty good response to the media critics

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 29: Hanley Ramirez
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 29: Hanley Ramirez /

Hanley Ramirez responded to the media’s criticism in Thursday’s 6-3 victory.

It’s no secret that Hanley Ramirez has struggled this season. Anyone who’s watched him play can see that he just hasn’t been the same prolific slugger he was just a season ago and for most of his career really. Part of that is probably attributed to shoulder injuries that have plagued him for most of the last decade. The other part is probably a lack of motivation or guidance in the absence of David Ortiz.

Whatever the cause, the bottom line is that Hanley’s .241/.341/.406 slash line with just 10 home runs and 29 RBIs entering Thursday’s game against the Twins put him on pace to have one of the worst offensive seasons of his career. As a player earning $22 million this season, his struggles have naturally been a large focus of the city’s sports media.

On Wednesday, Hanley was asked by the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton about his struggles against left-handed pitching. As if Hanley wasn’t well aware of his numbers.

There’s a common narrative that Hanley’s a player that doesn’t care about his performance and is only here to coast through the season and cash a check. It gained a lot of steam after his disaster of a season in 2015, where he was asked to play a completely foreign position in left field. But aside from 2015, when has he checked out (for lack of a better term) for an entire season?

Since 2006, he’s posted an OPS+ under 105 just twice – 2015 and 2011. That 2011 season was an injury-plagued campaign in which he played through a sprained lower back and left shoulder before eventually hitting the 60-day DL for good.

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Despite those down years, he’s averaged .295/.366/.495 with 22 home runs and a 128 OPS+ since entering the majors on a full-time basis. Hanley is far from a player that doesn’t care.

When confronted with his numbers by some members of the media, Hanley did the seemingly polite thing and ran with the conversation. With all of the information and attention given to preparation in today’s MLB, does anyone really believe that Hanley isn’t aware of his most basic stats? If anything, his responses in the exchange above are just a condescending way of telling reporters off.

Of course, the exchange presented some with the opportunity to fuel the narrative that Hanley doesn’t care or lacks awareness. In reality, Hanley’s well aware of his perception in the media and his Thursday night proved it. Going 1-for-4 with a homer and a couple runs scored wasn’t some record setting performance or monumental individual effort. But that’s not the point. In his first game back after getting hit in the knee by a pitch – he sent a 3-0 fastball into orbit out to dead center.

Last season, Hanley was called out in the media and responded with a proclamation that he was going to get hot… and then shredded through the last month and a half of the season to hit the 30 homer 100 RBI plateau. It looks like he could be back on that path again. If he goes on a tear over the next couple weeks, look back to Wednesday’s exchange as the catalyst. If not, well, maybe there’s some truth to the media’s perception of him.

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Regardless, the Red Sox better hope this is the beginning of an extended hot streak for Hanley, who when healthy, is as dangerous a hitter as you’ll find in baseball. If this team plans on making some noise over the second half of the season, they’ll need Hanley deliver on his proclamation.