Hanley Ramirez comes into 2014 in a contract year, looking to follow up one of the most remarkable seasons in Dodgers history.
The shortstop was limited by injuries, including tearing a thumb ligament and suffering a hamstring strain two months apart within feet of each other on the infield dirt near third base at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
But when he was healthy, Ramirez was the best player in the National League. He hit .345/.402/.638, a more powerful version of the Hanley of 2007-2010 that was in the discussion for best player in baseball status. Even though Ramirez played only 86 games, he was second on the team in home runs (just two off the team lead) and RBI.
He hit 19 of his 20 home runs as a shortstop, the most ever hit by a Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop and just three behind Glenn Wright for the overall franchise record, in a full 262 plate appearances fewer than the Brooklyn shortstop of 1930.
Ramirez carried it over into the playoffs, hitting .500 (8-for-16) against the Braves int he NLDS and tied a Dodgers franchise record with six extra-base hits in a playoff series.
But then came the cruelest injury of all, a fastball to the ribs from Cardinals starter Joe Kelly in Game 1 of the NLCS. The hit by pitch broke two ribs and essentially neutralized the Dodgers best hitter for the rest of the series.
"If he's healthy all the way, it definitely changes everything," said first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
That brings us to 2014, again a contract year for Ramirez. Though the Dodgers have made it known they'd like to sign him long term. The Dodgers hope he can stay healthy, as they were 51-26 in his starts in 2013, and 41-44 when he didn't start.
Is it reasonable to expect a 190 OPS+ again from Ramirez? Probably not, but if healthy he provides a dynamic presence that is very much needed in the middle of the Dodgers batting order.
Ramirez (.638) had the highest slugging percentage in baseball among players with at least 300 plate appearances, narrowly edging Miguel Cabrera (.636) and Chris Davis (.634), the first Dodger to do so since Duke Snider in 1953 (.627).
Ramirez will make $16 million in 2014 in the final season of a six-year contract signed with the Marlins. Ramirez will be a free agent after the season.
|2014 projections - Age 30 season|
It's funny how much can change in a year. The bottom three projections seem reasonable and would have been on the optimistic side heading into 2013, but now they almost look disappointing. I am a little more optimistic and think Ramirez will hit .307/.371/.530 with 28 home runs. What's your guess?