Dodgers Temporarily With 100% Less Hanley Ramirez

You don’t know how close you came to reading a “Hand-ley Ramirez” joke. I guess now you might.

Hanley Ramirez participated in the recently-concluded World Baseball Classic. He played third base, even though he was to spend the regular season as a shortstop. While attempting to make a play in the field the other day, Ramirez jammed his thumb, and shortly thereafter he was removed. Initial estimates put him out for 2-10 weeks, pending further word. Further word is in, and it’s not good news for Ramirez or for the Dodgers. It is good news for Ramirez’s backups, if they’re selfish.

According to Ken Rosenthal, and since confirmed by others, Ramirez is having surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. His thumb won’t be able to do anything for three weeks, and it’s estimated that Ramirez could return to action in eight weeks. Depending on the length of any rehab assignment, then, the Dodgers will be without Hanley Ramirez until mid- or late-May. Which means Ramirez is set to miss a quarter or a third of the regular season, barring any setbacks or surprises.

Here’s a slow-motion replay of how Ramirez hurt himself:


The Dodgers, surely, are upset, because they didn’t want Ramirez to play third base in the WBC. If they had their druthers, Ramirez probably would’ve skipped the WBC entirely and practiced at short in camp. There were already concerns that the WBC increases participant injury risk, and this isn’t going to help, but one has to consider that this isn’t an injury of fatigue or over-aggressiveness. This is a fluke injury, sustained while attempting to make a diving stop. This easily could’ve happened to Ramirez at shortstop in Arizona, so blaming the WBC seems to miss the mark. While Ramirez suffered a major injury during WBC action, I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s the WBC’s fault. Sometimes there is just bad luck.

People will be frustrated, they’ll be irrational about the consequences of the WBC, but the WBC isn’t going to change, and ultimately everyone will move forward. The priority now is figuring out where the Dodgers go from here. It’s all pretty easy for Hanley — he’ll recover, he’ll rehab, he’ll get healthy, and he’ll play in the bigs when he’s at or near 100%. In the meantime, the Dodgers have options.

The intended alignment had Hanley Ramirez at shortstop and Luis Cruz at third base. Now Hanley is unavailable, and the Dodgers could simply plug in Dee Gordon at shortstop instead. Alternatively, they could move Cruz to short, freeing up third base for Nick Punto, or Jerry Hairston Jr., or Juan Uribe, or some combination of all of them. No matter the alignment, Cruz will play regularly. So Ramirez will effectively be replaced by some combination of Gordon, Punto, Hairston, and Uribe.

To look at this most simply, let’s glance at projections. Borrowing from the positional power rankings, here are combined ZiPS/Steamer WAR projections per 600 plate appearances:

  • Ramirez: 3.2 WAR/600
  • Gordon: 0.5
  • Punto: 1.5
  • Uribe: 1.7
  • Hairston: 1.2

The four potential replacements average out to about 1.2 WAR per 600 plate appearances, projected. This is way too simple of an approach, and we’re not operating like mathematical surgeons, but this does convey the proper idea. Let’s say you think Ramirez is a 3-5 win player. Let’s say you think the backups are 0-2 win players. Let’s acknowledge that Ramirez stands to miss only a fraction of the regular season. He should be good to go when he’s healthy and rehabbed. Based on the probability, today’s news makes the 2013 Dodgers worse, but it’s well short of devastating. Maybe we’re talking about a lost win, on average. Maybe we’re talking about less than that.

It’s not entirely unlike the Yankees’ situation without Curtis Granderson. Granderson comes with a lot of name value, and there’s a hole when he’s not in the lineup, but the hole is only so significant, and Granderson stands to miss only so much time. Even if you don’t think of WAR as being particularly accurate, it does provide a good estimation of how much one individual player can mean to a team. Losing Mike Trout for a year would cripple the Angels, but losing Mike Trout for a fraction of a year would be more manageable, and other players aren’t Mike Trout. Hanley Ramirez, certainly, isn’t Mike Trout, and the difference between Hanley and his replacements on a game-to-game basis is slight. Meaningful, but bigger in the mind than it is on paper.

The issue for the Dodgers, of course, is that they’re looking to contend, and they could and should battle the Giants and the Diamondbacks in the NL West. Because the Dodgers aren’t far and away the best of the group, they’re at a high-leverage position on the win curve, again not unlike the Yankees, so a win here and there is important. If you want to put a dollar value on it, this Ramirez injury might be worth $5 million, or $10 million. This drops the Dodgers’ odds of making the playoffs, by at least a few percentage points, because the competition in the division should be intense.

But Ramirez will return. That should happen before June, meaning Ramirez should be good for at least four months. And Hanley Ramirez presumably isn’t an elite-level shortstop anymore, so the Dodgers should survive barring further injury. Zack Greinke is a bit of a concern, and it’s unclear how much can be expected of Chad Billingsley given what he’s pitching through. Injuries to the starting rotation could really do damage, but losing Hanley Ramirez is survivable. It’s the same lesson for almost all injuries of this sort.

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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

16 Responses to “Dodgers Temporarily With 100% Less Hanley Ramirez”

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  1. Fill says:

    “It’s not entirely unlike the Yankees’ situation without Curtis Granderson. Granderson comes with a lot of name value, and there’s a hole when he’s not in the lineup”

    Heh. A hole.

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  2. eric says:

    What a non-article this is.

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  3. walt526 says:

    Obviously losing him for a quarter of the season or so isn’t detrimental to the Dodgers. The larger concern is whether this sort of injury is likely to hamper his production once he returns. Wrist injuries are said to take a while to recover from, but what about thumbs? Seems to me like the impact on throwing would be as large a concern. The Dodgers are already sacrificing some defense to get Ramirez’s bat at short, but will the injury have an impact on his ability to field (presumably throwing) that widens the gulf between Ramirez and the other shortstop options?

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  4. Travis says:

    I think it is an exaggeration to say the same thing could have happened at SS in Arizona. He was playing in on the grass, something he wouldn’t be doing at SS in spring training which reduces his reaction time. This both forces him to dive more and reduces his preperation time for the dive. He’d also be more likely to be diving to his right instead of his left which may have contributed to his injury.

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    • ChadT says:

      It’s all hypothetical of course. He could’ve torn his ACL running the bases in Arizona that day, in an alternate universe.

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  5. Science says:

    The words “Nick Punto, or Jerry Hairston Jr., or Juan Uribe” hit me like a jab, overhand right and lefthook to my liver.

    Egad, is that what Ned Colletti buys with all that money? These guys were all available during the offseason: Eric Chavez, Kevin Youklis, Jeff Keppinger, Ian Stewart, Placido Polanco, Mark DeRosa, Macier Izturis, Ty Wigginton, Mike Aviles.

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    • Dan Greer says:

      Out of the batch you mentioned, I’m honestly unsure how many of them are actual upgrades. Probably Aviles, if he was playing SS and moving HanRam to 3rd. Izturis, same thing. Youk? You bet. Perhaps Keppinger. The rest of the bunch seems pretty marginal to me.

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      • Science says:

        The point is that you found 4 betterish guys among my group, all of whom Colletti passed on for this bunch. (I think the whole group is better than Uribe, but let’s just say 4.) This is just a hobby to us, Colletti’s a professional, but you and I identified better choices.

        Colletti signed Uribe to a 3 year $21M deal, Hairston 2 years $6m, and Punto to 2 year $1.5m. He could’ve signed: Mark Derosa 1 year $0.775M, Mark Reynolds 1 year $6m, Aviles 2 yrs $6m, or gone upscale and spent all that Dodger money on Keppinger, Youklis, etc. to spare Dodger fans from Luis Cruz. Expensive and Mediocre is no way to chase a title.

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        • Dan Greer says:

          I don’t think DeRosa has anything left. And Uribe was already being paid. Hairston is a perfectly acceptable backup, and Punto has a good glove.

          Honestly, I think they probably put in a competitive bid on Youkilis but were turned down for a better offer from the Yankees. He also doesn’t seem like a “LA personality.”

          Your point is well-taken though. None of the guys they have even remotely resembles a solid Major League starter at 3B, except for HanRam, who apparently will mope if he plays anything but shortstop. You’re right – the Dodgers don’t look great. I think the Giants are still better despite what LA is spending.

          I also have no idea how they intend to use 8 starting pitchers, but that’s kind of par for the course.

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        • Fishback says:

          Youkilis got 12mil to start. Seriously, think he’d take a backup job for same money. Not to mention, you feel the Dodgers should’ve sinked 12mil+ into a backup, after they already spent that much. This could be the worst ‘Monday morning QB’ comment ever.

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    • thirteenthirteen says:

      Why improve the left side of your infield when you can have eight starting pitchers? WOOHOO PITCHERS R COOL.

      Intradivisional trades are generally seen as a bad idea but this might be time for Kevin Towers to leverage his awesome shortstop collection.

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  6. jcutiger says:

    The odds may be similar that Ramirez gets injured at ST with the Dodgers. However, it’s now 100% that he gets injured at the WBC while it still would have been < 5% (or whatever the number is) that he would have gotten injured in ST. So, odds are he'd be healthy right now if he had gone with the Dodgers' wishes.

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  7. DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy says:

    All i can say is LOL, no worries though, this team is an upgrade over the crap we’ve had the last decade and with an extra playoff spot i’m not worried. The media is going to try and turn the Dodgers into great expectations and drama, fasten your seatbelts! Good thing we still have Vin Scully, after he’s gone idk what we’ll do…..are the Dbacks supposed to be a big deal? Didn’t they just trade away their best hitter? I’m more worried about Bills, hope his arm doesn’t blow up.

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    • DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy says:

      I’m sure the guy doesn’t regret it, chances are that WBC trophy will be the only he hoists this year, just the odds, so i’m happy for them. **** happens

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