Hanley and Potential History

Hanley Ramirez is really good

So good, that Ramirez ranks fourth on the career leaderboard in shortstop wOBA. Behind Arky Vaughan, Alex Rodriguez, and some guy named Honus Wagner. ZiPS projects Ramirez to finish with a .417 wOBA this season, one point lower than his current figure, which keeps his career wOBA around .397. How unique is that from a shortstop? Well the top two offensive shortstops had the following numbers through 25 years of age:

Honus Wagner: .392 wOBA, 1,519 plate appearances, three seasons of play
Alex Rodriguez: .406 wOBA, 4,247 plate appearances, eight seasons of play
Compared to Hanley: .397 wOBA, ~2,752 plate appearances, five (four, really) seasons of play

Hanley is in the middle in each regard. The biggest hurdle might be whether or not he can stick at shortstop moving forward. In the full four years he’s spent in the majors, Hanley has rated as a slightly below average shortstop twice (including this year’s -2 UZR/150), solidly below average once, and holy-mackerel-move-him-to-center-tomorrow-bad once. Unless he suddenly deteriorates, it seems unlikely Hanley is moving before he reaches 28/29 – the same age when Rodriguez made the switch, albeit not because of necessity.

Depending on how well the prime of Ramirez career and – more importantly – the slope of his career treat him, we could be looking at the third best hitting shortstop in the history of baseball. Or he could fall off and only be one of the five-to-ten best hitting shortstops in history; because that would obviously be such a huge disappointment of a career.

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19 Responses to “Hanley and Potential History”

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  1. DavidCEisen says:

    While Hanley is great, he’s really not that unprecedented:

    Certainly he has got the potential to be better than both of them, but I’ll wait and see.

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  2. Erik Manning says:

    I like these historical wOBA graphs.

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  3. joe says:

    Lol, but UZR says hanley isnt a “shortstop”

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    • Matt B. says:

      Guess UZR says he can now… He was always pretty highly touted with the glove in the minors. Beeing more “toolsy” than “heady”. If he keeps his head in the game in the field, he can be pretty fun to watch.

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      • Matt B. says:

        He is also ahead of the wonderkid fielder Tulo and an aging Adam Everett. Both praised for defensive prowess.

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  4. Matt B, says:

    If Derek Jeter is still considered a shortstop, Hanley should have no troubles.

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  5. joe says:

    the difference between Hanley and the other 3:

    The other 3 can field.

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    • Michael says:

      Hanley has been a league average shortstop for the last season and a half. His rookie year he was half a win below average. He had one monstrously bad year in the field, and now he has a bad reputation. Maybe I’m a bit of a homer, but I thought the idea was to see the trends in the numbers and be objective.

      Also, Hanley does a decent job passing the eye test on defense as well:

      Fan’s Scouting Reports/UZR

      2006: 72/-5.3
      2007: 50/-19.3
      2008: 63/-0.7

      I’d say he’s good enough to be a passable great hitting shortstop.

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  6. DavidCEisen says:

    Hanley’s fielding hasn’t been bad the past two seasons, in which he has accumulated a -1.4 UZR. So in a typical season he only costs his team a run and a half. Big deal.

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  7. Steve C says:

    Sandoval hits just as well, and I bet he could play a better short.

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  8. Kevin says:

    Can we please not do this?

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  9. Jason T says:

    Michael is exactly right. If it hadn’t been for one seasons’s worth of ‘good-God-shield-your-eyes’ UZR we wouldn’t be getting all spun out about this.

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  10. B says:

    I’m under the impression other defensive metrics tend to be more optimistic on Hanley’s D than UZR. It’s possible UZR underrates his defense.

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  11. RA says:

    UZR does sometimes have some glaring abnormalities which is why I stick to range factor. Hanley’s RF in the 2007 season was 4.3 versus 4.5 and 4.4 in the season prior and the season before. Not much of a difference. Someone would have to present me with an extremely compelling argument for me not to think the UZR was out of whack. It seems pretty obvious.

    I’ll take a SS with a 4.4 RF any day if they hit .300 with 30 HR.

    That being said, his RF is down below 4 this year but I’d expect him to maintain an acceptable level of play at the position. He’s definitely below average but more than makes up for it with the stick.

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    • Paul Thomas says:

      “UZR does sometimes have some glaring abnormalities which is why I stick to range factor.”


      Excuse me. I don’t know how that slipped ou… ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah…

      I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself when people break out this kind of comic gold.

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  12. Turkdawg says:

    Not sure why Arky Vaughn was mentioned in the open and then not included in the analysis.

    I have the mlb package and actually watch Hanley often and my opinion is this; although i think his lingering groin strain has hampered him this season (see the diminished rf) he is no better than a slighlty below average fielding shortstop. He could slip over time (i expect him to continue to get bigger and slower) to become very bad and will likely end up at 3b in 3-4 years. Probably with someone else after this contract is up.

    I’d take a slightly below average fielding shortstop to get the extreme relative offensive production from him. Piazza never moved despite being borderline embarassing behind the dish.

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  13. David says:

    Hanley has what, a 3% chance of maintaining this for 10+ years? Waaaaay too many factors to even do this so early-on.

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  14. Ben says:

    Would it be possible to add Arky Vaughan to this graph and analysis? I, for one, would like to see how he compares, given the fact that he is ahead of the the two modern shortstops.

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