Credit: Michael Harshbarger
Entering this season the signing of Hanley Ramirez was being viewed as one of the worst in Red Sox history. In the winter prior to the 2015 season Hanley and the Red Sox agreed to a four year 88 million dollar deal with a vesting fifth year option. The Red Sox were looking for another powerful bat to add to the lineup but Not everything went as planned in 2015. The Red Sox attempted to convert Hanley from a infielder into a left fielder. That experiment was disastrous as watching Hanley in the outfield was painful. Not only was Hanley’s fielding horrible but due to a shoulder injury Hanley hit 19 home runs but only played in 105 games and hit for a .249 average. Hanley was not the only disappointment as the Red Sox finished in last place and fellow big agent acquisition Pablo Sandoval was also horrible.
2016 however has turned out completely different for Hanley. He switched positions from left field to first Base and is batting .294 with 28 homeruns and 106 runs batted in. Not only is his power back but he has been carrying the Red Sox on his back in September. On Saturday night Hanley hit a walk off three run homer against the Yankees. Yesterday Hanley hit a three run homer to put the Sox within one and then later in the game he hit a solo homerun to give the Sox the lead. Ramirez is playing the best baseball of the year and maybe even of his career. The Red Sox are in first place as they open up a series against the Baltimore Orioles tonight and Hanley is a big reason why. In order for the Sox to make a deep postseason run they will need Hanley to be at his best. With Hanley hitting the way he is baseball’s best offense becomes even better. Hanley’s return to form however is not just a positive for this coming year but also the future.
Next year with Ortiz gone the Red Sox will be looking to Hanley for leadership. Pedroia will still be on the roster however the big power bat in the lineup will be Hanley. The Sox will need him to be a leader which after last year was the last thing people thought of him. Hanley’s career has now come full circle. In 2005 the Red Sox traded Hanley to the Florida Marlins for Third baseman Mike Lowell and Pitcher Josh Beckett. Both Lowell and Beckett had good careers in Boston and contributed greatly to the 2007 world series championship. Now Hanley has returned to the team that drafted him and is carrying them to the postseason and perhaps another championship. As Ortiz retires he can take comfort that the Sox are in good hands with Hanley back to his old self.