I apologize for missing out on yesterday’s Marlins Top Ten Seasons of the decade. I will definitely attempt to make up the number soon. We’ll see how much I can get done today. Now, on to the #8 season of the decadee for the Florida Marlins, the 2006 Rookie of the Year season for current Marlins superstar Hanley Ramirez.
Hanley Ramirez (2006)
Hanley Ramirez came to the Marlins as the prized prospect of the Josh Beckett-Mike Lowell trade with the Boston Red Sox. Prior to arriving on the Marlins’ doorstep, he had been a highly talented, yet enigmatic young shortstop. Ramirez had never hit all that well in the minors, but he was ranked by Baseball-America as the Red Sox’ #1 prospect from 2003 to 2005.
So when the Marlins completed the trade and acquired Ramirez with the possible intent to start him in 2006, it seemed like the team would be in for a rough ride. In Ramirez’ last minor league season of 2005, he hit .271/.334./.382 in Double-A Portland for the Sox. It was hard to imagine a 22-year old succeeding in the bigs having shown small progress in the minors.
It was safe to say that after the Marlins 2006 season, Ramirez had made huge strides with the bat. In his rookie year, he put up an impressive .292/.353/.480 line, displaying some surprising power. Ramirez’s adjusted ISO of .170 as the highest he had ever put up at any professional level in a full season. His 17 homers and 46 doubles were a great surprise given the lack of power we’d seen in the minors. Once Ramirez got on base, he also dominated on the bases. He stole 51 bases that season while being caught only 15 times. Baseball Prospectus’ EqBRR puts a more positive light on Ramirez’ running, tagging him for almost 11 runs better than average on the bases, including nine runs better than average on non-steal advancement.
He also displayed an adequate handling of the defense at short; TotalZone has him as an average shortstop, while UZR places him as around five runs below average. The overall package was astonishing for a rookie campaign. A 5.2 WAR season from a rookie is an amazing feat; no RoY winner since Ramirez’ 2006 season, including Justin Verlander’s 2006 winning campaign, matched Ramirez’ season. Furthermore, the next three National League winners from 2007 to 2009 totaled only 7.9 WAR, 1.5 times the total of Ramirez’ single season (of course, that had to do with Ryan Braun and his awful defense, among other things). All told, Ramirez’ 2006 campaign was a dominant season, and a harbinger of things to come. As you’ll see in the later installments of this series, Ramirez would only grow to be a dominant hitter at a premium position as the years went by. The Marlins only saw the beginning with 2006.