Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez on pace for 30/30 goal

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 16: Hanley Ramirez
FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 16: Hanley Ramirez /

Boston Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez proclaimed in spring training that he would hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases. So far he’s on pace to do it.

Admit it, you laughed when you first heard it. The proclamation from Hanley Ramirez when the Boston Red Sox gathered for spring training seemed ridiculous. 30+ home runs and 30+ stolen bases?

No way. In a previous decade, maybe. He’s done it before when he smashed 33 home runs and swiped 35 bases for the Florida Marlins back in 2008. That was during his early superstar years. Ramirez is 34 years old now. It’s also been quite some time since anyone considered him a star.

He hasn’t stolen double-digit bases since 2014, let alone making a run at 30. The last time he even eclipsed 20 steals was 2012. As for the power? Ramirez is capable of 30 homers, having done so as recently as 2016. Yet he’s only reached that total twice in 12 seasons.

When Ramirez made his bold prediction in camp we assumed he was joking. Perhaps he was but less than a week into the season, Ramirez is on pace for that goal.

Ramirez belted his first home run of the season Monday night, which fittingly came in the city of Miami where he once established himself as a star. Later that night he stole his second base of the season, putting him in position to score on a Rafael Devers double.

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With a homer and two steals already under his belt, Ramirez is on a 162-game pace for 32 home runs and 64 steals. Obviously, Ramirez isn’t playing 162 games. He’s already sat out once. We can’t rule out a disabled list stint at some point given his history. The Red Sox would also benefit from keeping him under the 497 plate appearances he needs for his 2019 option to vest. Still, a modest projection of 130 games puts Ramirez on pace for 26 home runs and 52 steals.

Early season results can produce some bizarre statistics for what players are on pace for due to minuscule sample sizes. Xander Bogaerts isn’t going to hit well above .400 all season. Andrew Benintendi will climb over the Mendoza Line. A Red Sox starting pitcher will (probably) give up more than one run in a game.

In a related story, Hanley probably isn’t joining the 30/30 club this year.

Even if we expect him to fall short of this lofty goal, we can still be encouraged by his promising start. Ramirez is slashing .294/.333/.529 with a double and a home run through four games. We don’t have to believe he’ll reach 30 homers to recognize that he’s swinging the bat well. A healthy Hanley can be a productive hitter.

Ramirez isn’t turning back the clock over a decade to when he swiped 51 bags in consecutive seasons. His stolen base pace will slow down significantly. It’s still worth noting that Ramirez has been given the green light to run early this season. He’s already doubled his steals total from last season when he dealt with a nagging shoulder injury and seemed disinterested in baserunning or defense. This is a different Hanley this year.

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Ramirez probably won’t end up with 30 homers or steals but he doesn’t have to. If he gives the Red Sox anything resembling his 2016 season, we’ll take it.