Once touted as the best player in the league, the Miami Marlins unceremoniously traded the former 3 time All-Star to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This marks the end of his career with the Marlins, a career which most saw rise to stratospheric heights, only to fall way short of expectations due to injuries and a lack of motivation.
Once a prospect in the Red Sox organization, The then Florida Marlins acquired Ramirez in the winter of 2005, along with Anibal Sanchez in the trade that sent Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston. Ramirez came in with some expectations, and needless to say, he more than exceeded them his rookie year, posting amazing numbers on his way to Rookie of the Year honors. Hanley continued his amazing 2006 putting up solid numbers in the 2007 and 2008 seasons, making his first All Star game in 08. 2009 was the best year in his young career, being named to the All-Star team starting squad and winning the National League batting title. Things were definitely looking up for the young slugger, and coming into 2010, expectations had never been higher. Once again, Ramirez made the All-Star team for the 3rd consecutive year, this time being named to the Home Run Derby.
In my opinion, this is where the downfall began. Hanley had always been a solid contact hitter, using his power in certain spots. After coming in second in the derby, I believe he started to see himself as more of a power hitter, and his average began to suffer. You can see in his approach, he was almost always looking to go for the homerun in a key spot, rather than a hit that could bring the run in, and prolong the inning. After suffering a shoulder injury that sidelined him for half of the 2011 season, we were all expecting the Hanley Ramirez of old to re-surface. Sadly, this never came into fruition.
2012 has been marked by bitter disappointment. Sadly, the moves that the front office made in the off-season have yet to work. Big name free agent signings have not panned out, and the team has struggled mightily. Ramirez, a SS for the first 6 years of his career was asked to make a move to 3rd base to make room for incoming NY Mets shortstop Jose Reyes. While it seemed like Hanley would not make the move willingly, eventually things cooled down and Hanley settled into the 5 spot. His transition to 3rd base was not perfect but he did impress with his play. Unfortunately, it was his batting average and childish behavior that did not impress and led to his trade.
Hanley’s time with the Marlins will forever be remembered as “what if.” What if he could have found a way to go back to 2009 form, what if he realized we didn’t always need a homerun when he came to bat? What if he would played a little harder? What if… I don’t think a superstar has ever fallen from grace quite as fast as Hanley Ramirez did in the eyes of fans. Dolphins’ Stadium was full of fans wearing their #2 Ramirez tee-shirts and jerseys, myself included. Now, we find ourselves a different team. Maybe for the better, maybe for the worst. Time will tell.