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:
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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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