Meet the New Hanley, Same as the Old Hanley

When Hanley Ramirez came on the fantasy scene in 2006, he immediately became a top option at the shortstop position. For the remainder of that decade, he sat on or near the podium for fantasy shortstop value and real world shortstop value.

Year BM Rank WAR WAR Rank
2006 5 4.3 7
2007 1 5.3 3
2008 1 7.2 1
2009 1 7.1 1
2010 2 4.2 3
2011 14 1 29
2012 5 2.9 9
2013 14 2 6

(BM Rank in this table refers to his position rank by Baseball Monster’s fantasy valuation tool, using batting average as the rate stat for the league.)

Basically, “been pimpin since been pimpin…” Hanley Ramirez has been one of the top shortstops in baseball his entire career, topping the position’s leaderboard in wins above replacement with 34.1 in that span. This isn’t really news, but it’s worth a reminder since some may have forgotten just how good he was. Somehow, he seems underrated at this point in his career.

And that’s because he took a dip over the past few years, only to return to peak levels in the last six weeks.

For the first time since entering the league, Ramirez fell out of the top-five in fantasy value and the top-seven in WAR at shortstop in 2011. Some of this was due to injury, as he played just 92 games. However, you’ll notice in the table below that his runs and home runs on a per-game basis were at career lows as well. Ramirez’ power was sapped and, thanks in part to a bad Marlins team, his scoring ability was mediocre.

Year GM R R/gm RBI RBI/gm HR HR/gm SB SB/gm AVG
2006 158 119 0.75 59 0.37 17 0.11 51 0.32 292
2007 154 125 0.81 81 0.53 29 0.19 51 0.33 332
2008 153 125 0.82 67 0.44 33 0.22 35 0.23 301
2009 151 101 0.67 106 0.70 24 0.16 27 0.18 342
2010 142 92 0.65 76 0.54 21 0.15 32 0.23 300
2011 92 55 0.60 45 0.49 10 0.11 20 0.22 243
2012 157 79 0.50 92 0.59 24 0.15 21 0.13 257
2013 32 23 0.72 20 0.63 7 0.22 4 0.13 410

In 2012, some expected Ramirez to bounce back with the move to third base being more forgiving on his body and the line-up around him being a bit better. A return to health helped and his value was restored, but he wasn’t quite the player he was before – the runs were down even further, the stolen bases fell off a cliff, and the home runs didn’t recuperate enough value to push him past fifth.

This year there was some trepidation as to whether Ramirez, now back at shortstop, would hold up in his age-29 season. Enter a thumb injury in spring training, and Ramirez’ value in late drafts was low. Some thought to grab him and stash him on their DL, but a thigh injury after just four games put him back on the shelf.

Since his return on June 4, though, we’ve been treated to a taste of the “old Hanley,” as Ramirez has been insanely productive. It’s a small 32-game sample, of course, but on a per game basis his runs and home runs are higher than they have been since 2008, his RBI their highest since 2009, and his batting average a ludicrous and unsustainable .410. The stolen bases haven’t come back and it’s possible that the thigh strain will prevent that value from returning this year, but he’s done enough in a third of the time as everyone else to rank 14th among shortstops in full-season value, first in per-game value by a landslide.

Ramirez is striking out and walking less than is normal for him, meaning his sky-high BABIP has had additional influence on his final line. However, his .420 BABIP can’t be looked at alone, as he’s been a .334 BABIP guy for his career, a rate that was even higher until 2011. A reason it’s been so good in 2013? A 27.3% line drive rate, one of the best in baseball. Further to that, the line drives have been taken out of his fly balls more than his groundballs, creating a batted ball profile that screams high-BABIP player. Some of these elements are subject to stringer bias, but I’d guess that if he qualified he’d rank highly on ESPN’s proprietary Well Hit Average, too.

But it’s not all rainbows and lollipops – Ramirez has a striking rise in his O-Swing%, perhaps learning from teammate Yasiel Puig, and he’s swung at more pitches overall without much of an uptick in contact rate.

This ultra-aggressive new Ramirez might be the perfect approach to rebuild his confidence, but it’s nowhere close to sustainable once the strikeouts start presenting themselves. With that said, it’s difficult to look at the runs and the power coming back up and not conclude that he’s a huge asset at the pivot. If you can convince someone in your league that he’s due for BABIP regression and a slump, by all means do so and then grab him.

He’s not the Hanley of old, because few shortstops have ever been so good for so long. But he’s showing enough of the old Hanley to make him a top-two fantasy shortstop for the rest of the season. (Inside the top two, flip a coin between him and Troy Tulowitzki to see who gets hurt next and falls to second place.)




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Blake Murphy is a news editor at The Score, and is a freelance sportswriter covering baseball, basketball, hockey and more. Think Bo Jackson, without the being good at every sport part. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.


18 Responses to “Meet the New Hanley, Same as the Old Hanley”

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  1. Rodney says:

    Is Segura the next Jose Reyes for the next decade?

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    • Blake Murphy says:

      That’s a pretty lofty title to put on someone with less than 600 MLB plate appearances. It’s a cool idea for next week’s shortstop piece though, maybe I’ll dive in further.

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    • Blake Murphy says:

      BTW, 7HR 32SB, .283 for Reyes in his first 122 games (over two partial seasons).
      Segura = 11HR, 34SB, .303 over 131.

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      • Rodney says:

        Wow! The comp isn’t crazy thus far! Segura really looks legitimate, and I was just curious. Thanks.

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      • Travis L says:

        I know we’re talking fantasy, but must we quote BA in < 1 season of data?

        Their MiLB track record for power, and age, would give much more insight into their comparison.

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    • chri521 says:

      Yea that’s an interesting comp. On the surface they are both “hackers” in that they would rather put the ball in play than walk but have a line drive mentality. Jose is a switchy though but I wonder how their OBP and SLG / ISO compare. Segura’s oppo power has been very surprising.

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    • Kris says:

      i thought xander bogaerts was getting this title…?

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  2. chri521 says:

    Nit pick but wasn’t Hanley’s injury a balky hamstring not a thigh?

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    • Blake Murphy says:

      Might have been…BPro had it in their injury profile as a thigh, although I’d guess either would effect the other.

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      • chri521 says:

        Ok, a recent article confirmed your notion that the Dodgers asked Hanley to ease up when he can on the hammy so that will definitely curtail his SB chances. He has stolen a few since his return though and got thrown out trying to take an extra base last night.

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  3. Kris says:

    In second place in my league and just traded $10 Prado and $4 Olt for $28 Hanley. So far, so good.

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  4. jimbo says:

    I don’t see O-swing% as an option in splits, but hitters can adjust depending on the count. Makes me wonder if he’s being more aggressive early in counts, or when ahead. So many variables, so little time to draw conclusions!

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  5. nickatl says:

    watching many dodgers games, he has been hitting the ball hard, even on outs. he was thrown out last night trying for 2d because he was lollygagging to 1st. it should have been an easy double. he was making sure puig was tagging while running to 1st.

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  6. Edward says:

    hold it here. “he’s swung at more pitches overall without much of an uptick in contact rate”? maybe his overall contact rate has stayed steady from previous years because he’s swinging at more pitches out of the zone, but hanley’s z-contact% is elite and at a career high – ~95%. i’ve been watching him all year and he is making contact with an insane amount of pitches due to his elite bat speed. he is crushing so many pitches out of play that you can clearly tell he is back to MVP levels. i think hanley’s making better contact than previous years, but is unfortunately swinging more on pitches out of the zone, which haven’t seen any reduction in his o-contact%.

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    • Blake Murphy says:

      I get what you’re saying but it’s not really relevant to the point – his OSwing is way up, contact rate the same. Looking at OSwing + Zone Contact wouldn’t make sense except to say STOP SWINGING AT BAD PITCHES BECAUSE YOU’RE CRUSHING EVERYTHING IN THE ZONE. Agreed?

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      • Edward says:

        this is what i’m trying to say:

        A. hanley’s z-contact% has gone up from his career rates
        B. hanley’s o-contact% is right at his career rates

        Since A has gone up, while B has stayed the same, I don’t think you can say that his pure contact rate hasn’t gone up. Mathematically, his pure contact % has gone up for all pitches, since neither A nor B have decreased from career norms. However, since his o-swing % is higher than career rates, and his o-contact% is lower than his z-contact%, his overall contact % has remained steady with career rates. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I think he’s making better contact with all balls (inside or outside the zone), but his overall amount of contact has remained steady with his career rates because overall contact adjusts for the amount of swinging you do for pitches inside the zone vs. outside the zone. Either way, you’re right about the fact that he should stop swinging at pitches outside the zone because he’s making contact with NINETY FIVE percent of balls inside the zone. that’s scutaro levels of contact (inside, not outside the zone…because scutaro somehow has 90% o-contact%)

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