The balance of power in the American League swung dramatically when the Red Sox signed slugging outfielder Manny Ramirez as a free agent from the Cleveland Indians in December 2000.
Ramirez continued to produce at high levels in Boston, even as he was the center of several controversies over his in-game focus and his alleged links to performance-enhancing drug use.
After leaving Boston, Ramirez tested positive twice for banned substances, sitting out a 50-game suspenson in 2009 and retiring when faced with a 100-game ban in 2011.
For the antics — “Manny being Manny” — Ramirez was one of the best ever with a bat in his hands.
After coming to the Red Sox, Ramirez won a batting title in 2002, hitting .349 while also leading the league in on-base percentage. He won the AL home run title in 2004, when he finished third in the MVP voting, and was fourth in the voting in 2005.
He topped the leage in OBP three times with Boston and had the AL’s top OPS in 2004. Ramirez was also an eight-time All-Star in eight seasons with the club.
His exit from Boston was controversial. Unhappy with the team, Ramirez was still hitting .299 when he was sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-team deal that also sent Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss to the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Red Sox got Jason Bay from Pittsburgh.
In parts of eight seasons with the Red Sox, Ramirez hit .312/.411/.999, an OPS+ of 155, with 274 homers, 868 RBI and 743 runs scored.
Ramirez was the MVP of Boston’s historic World Series win in 2004, when he was 7-for-17 with a homer and four RBI in the four-game sweep.
In four postseasons with the Red Sox, he hit .321/.422/.980 in 43 games with 11 home runs, 38 RBI and 29 runs scored.
A first-round pick in 1991, Ramirez played parts of eight seasons with the Indians, earning four All-Star berths. He spent parts of three seasons with the Dodgers, finished 2010 with the Chicago White Sox and had signed with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 before retiring.
He attempted a comeback with the Oakland Athletics, but was released in June without getting to the bigs, and played in Taiwan. Ramirez caught a minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers in July 2013, but he was let go after 30 games.
In May 2014, he signed with the Chicago Cubs and was a player-coach at Triple-A Iowa. He joined the Cubs as a hitting consultant in 2015, but made another comeback attempt in Japan in 2017.