Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez opened the scoring in Wednesday's win over the Cubs with a solo home run in the first inning, his second titanic blast in the three-game series. Ramirez has homered in each of the Dodgers' last three wins, and with 15 long balls on the season is just two behind Adrian Gonzalez for the team lead.
It is quite possible, if not likely, that Ramirez will end up leading the Dodgers in home runs this season despite missing at least 65 games. He might be having the greatest season of under 100 games in Dodgers history.
Ramirez has played in just 68 of the Dodgers' 133 games this season but he leads the team's position players in Wins Above Replacement, whether your WAR of choice is from Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs or Baseball Prospectus.
Jack Moore of Disciples of Uecker took notice on Wednesday.
Hanley Ramirez is going to have the best 90-game MVP case of all-time.— Jack Moore (@jh_moore) August 28, 2013
The Dodgers are 41-19 when Ramirez starts in 2013, and 37-36 when he doesn't. He might show up on some National League MVP ballots, but regardless of his finish in award season Ramirez is having a special season.
Even with just 68 games under his belt, Ramirez is tied with Reggie Smith's 1980 campaign with 4.3 rWAR (the Baseball-Reference version) for highest Wins Above Replacement by a Dodgers hitter with under 100 games.
Ramirez is hitting a whopping .343/.392/.628 on the season and with 29 games remaining on the schedule he will max out at 97 games played. It should also be noted that Yasiel Puig is right behind Ramirez with 4.0 rWAR in 76 games, so if Puig misses at least six more games he could very well join Ramirez in the insanely productive under-100 club.
But for now let's focus on Ramirez and where he stands in Dodgers history among players with under 100 games.
Home runs: This one will be tough for Ramirez to beat, as Todd Hundley smashed 24 home runs in just 90 games for the Dodgers in 2000 (Hundley hit .284/.375/.579 that season; it was a different era). But second to Hundley is Andy Pafko, who hit 18 home runs for the 1951 Brooklyn squad, a number certainly within reach for Ramirez. At the very least, Hanley will challenge for most home runs by a Dodger named Ramirez in under 100 games, as Manny hit 17 in just 53 games when he took Los Angeles by storm in 2008.
Total bases: Ramirez has 152 total bases, putting him well within reach of James Loney's 185 total bases in 96 games in 2007. Loney came up to the Dodgers for good in June 2007, then proceeded to ruin future expectations by hitting .331/.381/.538 with 15 home runs, a figure that remains a career high. Ramirez needs 34 total bases in 33 games to pass Loney. It should be noted that Puig has 161 total bases in 76 games.
Runs batted in: Ramirez has driven in 44 runs in 68 games in 2013, after driving in 44 in 64 games with the Dodgers in 2012. He has a tall order to catch Hundley, the leader here with 70 RBI in 2000. Ramirez did drive in 28 runs in 33 games from June 19 to July 25, so the record is within reach. Ramirez figures to finish at least somewhere in the 60s here. Behind Hundley we have Joe Visner, who drove in 68 runs in 80 games for Brooklyn in 1889, and Loney's 67 RBI in 2007.
Runs scored: Ramirez has scored 48 runs. The leader here is Bill Joyce, who scored 89 runs in 97 games for Brooklyn in 1892. The top eight seasons on the list were from 1884-1900. Since 1901, MLB's modern era, Rafael Furcal leads the Dodgers under 100 games with 68 runs scored in 97 games in 2010, a figure well within reach of Ramirez.
Doubles: At 20 doubles, Ramirez needs nine more to pass the immortal Darby O'Brien, who slugged 28 doubles in 85 games in 1890. Since 1901, the top dog is Furcal, with 23 doubles in 2010.
Hits: Ramirez has 83 hits in 68 games. He needs a Hall of Fame-type month to catch Hall of Famer Zack Wheat, who had 131 hits in 98 games for Brooklyn in 1923. Since moving to Los Angeles, Furcal holds the top mark with 115 hits in 2010.