Hanley Ramirez: Time to Sell?

One of the players I struggled to rank to start the season was Hanley Ramirez. He is kind of an enigma in fantasy because the talent has always been there, and for a SS, has put together some strong years outside of injuries. The move to the outfield and to Fenway Park seemed like it would work well for his value, but instead turned out to be nothing short of a disastrous first season, despite just missing twenty home runs. Writers were all over the place with where to put Ramirez, and some writers thought injuries and the new scene played a significantly negative role and he was worth taking a flyer on this year. There is still a lot of season to play, but based on some of the rate stats I’ve seen so far, I’m selling big time.

First, let’s look at his BB%, K%, ISO and BABIP. One of the reasons I was down on Ramirez this season was the drop in his walk rate. One reason to be optimistic was that his ISO was not far off his career average and strikeout percentage was right in line. Additionally, his BABIP was much lower than his career rate, so it’s easy to chalk up his troubles to pressing and injuries. Then I looked at the past two seasons versus his career rate with those stats and turned this up:

Hanley Ramirez Rate Stats
2015 4.90% 16.50% 0.177 0.257
2016 3.30% 25.00% 0.14 0.333
Career 9.20% 16.70% 0.198 0.327

The walk rate continues to drop, his strikeout rate has risen, his ISO has dropped, yet his BABIP is around where it should be for his career. The number that really jumps out at me as an issue is the drop in the walk rate. If he had a strong walk rate last season and just started off low, that’s one thing. Now, though, after last season and to still continue to drop has me concerned. Is he just not seeing the ball as well? Is he being overly aggressive? That’s where I looked at his plate discipline numbers.

For this table I’ve included his plate discipline numbers for the last two seasons and his career. This is the table created:

Hanley Ramirez Plate Discipline
Season Team O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% Zone% F-Strike% SwStr%
2015 Red Sox 34.30% 71.70% 50.90% 69.40% 89.30% 81.80% 44.30% 59.30% 9.10%
2016 Red Sox 36.80% 65.00% 53.10% 50.00% 87.20% 76.40% 58.00% 71.70% 12.10%
Total – – – 26.80% 66.40% 45.80% 65.60% 89.80% 82.40% 47.80% 60.10% 7.90%

He’s swinging outside the zone more than he used to, but that percentage began to increase when he went to the Dodgers, so although the increase is a concern, it doesn’t explain this much of a drop-off fully. He is swinging more than he used to, but he is also seeing a lot more balls in the zone, so that can explain some of that.

These are the numbers that worry me for this season: his Contact% and his Zone%. He is making less contact than he ever has, yet is seeing more pitches in the zone than he ever has. His swinging strike percentage is at a high and is falling behind in the count over 70% of the timejust after the first pitch.

In short, Hanley is having a rough start that other players have gone through and eventually came out fine. My concern is that the struggles aren’t suddenly new to him this season and appeared last year in some of these areas. I don’t have a clear explanation for why Ramirez is on this slide, and based on what I’ve seen this year and last, I’m staying far away and advise you do the same. Sure, there’s a good chance he’ll hit a hot streak and things could go back to the way they were. The lack of a disciplined approach is what worries me most and I just don’t see him suddenly turning that around with all the pressure surrounding him. He may need some time in a low stress environment to fix his approach, which he certainly won’t get in Boston.

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6 years ago

not only less contact, but worse contact. His soft contact% is up around 24% this year and last year, which is around top-10 highest rate in baseball over that stretch.