July 17, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Miami Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez (2) hits a home run during the seventh inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Hanley Ramirez and Marlins Fan: Memories, Superstardom and the Success that Never Came

On a warm weekday night in downtown Miami the Marlins are playing the Los Angeles Dodgers, all of a sudden the unmistakable sound of “boos” rain down from all over Marlins Park to a single target, walking to the right-handed batter’s box, Hanley Ramirez.

Marlins fans since Hanley was traded last July have decided to make him the villain as a player that is unequivocally deserving of the derision being rained upon him in the heart of Little Havana. Marlins fans have decided that Hanley was the one to blame, for the trade, that he didn’t play hard during the 2012 season as a way to ensure his ticket out of South Florida. That is the narrative that Marlins fans, including me, have chosen in vilifying Hanley. But sometimes the evidence outweighs constructed narratives and I think this situation needs some facts.

Hanley for better or worse was the Marlin’s franchise for 6 years, the key to the future after the 2005 fire sale and over that span despite some ups and downs. Including questions about his “commitment,” “effort,” and “hustle.” A matter for another article entirely Hanley was the ninth best player and the best shortstop in baseball over those seven years.

Name HR SB BB% K% ISO BABIP OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ WAR
Albert Pujols 274 63 13.4 % 9.3 % 0.279 0.3 0.412 0.598 0.419 162 48.5
Chase Utley 156 99 10.1 % 14.4 % 0.211 0.308 0.383 0.501 0.382 132 42.5
Miguel Cabrera 243 27 11.6 % 15.8 % 0.25 0.346 0.405 0.575 0.412 154 39.2
Matt Holliday 196 78 10.1 % 16.7 % 0.229 0.347 0.393 0.544 0.402 145 37.9
David Wright 163 143 11.7 % 19.0 % 0.201 0.344 0.383 0.502 0.379 135 36
Joe Mauer 79 29 12.5 % 10.2 % 0.145 0.35 0.411 0.473 0.382 136 34.2
Alex Rodriguez 218 92 12.0 % 18.9 % 0.242 0.31 0.383 0.53 0.391 140 33.4
Adrian Beltre 180 50 6.0 % 14.3 % 0.208 0.299 0.335 0.497 0.355 118 32.2
Hanley Ramirez 158 237 9.6 % 16.7 % 0.197 0.332 0.371 0.496 0.373 128 32
Carlos Beltran 172 97 12.4 % 15.8 % 0.234 0.297 0.372 0.517 0.377 134 31.2
Robinson Cano 163 30 5.9 % 11.8 % 0.199 0.322 0.355 0.509 0.369 127 31
Ryan Zimmerman 153 30 9.2 % 17.0 % 0.192 0.315 0.352 0.478 0.357 119 30.8
Curtis Granderson 202 113 10.3 % 22.8 % 0.231 0.304 0.342 0.493 0.36 120 30.7
Ryan Braun 202 126 7.9 % 17.9 % 0.255 0.34 0.374 0.568 0.402 149 30.7
Jose Reyes 78 318 8.2 % 9.8 % 0.158 0.314 0.353 0.454 0.348 114 30.3
Jimmy Rollins 134 232 8.0 % 10.3 % 0.178 0.274 0.328 0.445 0.334 101 29.6
Adrian Gonzalez 206 4 10.8 % 17.6 % 0.214 0.327 0.375 0.511 0.376 135 29.5
Evan Longoria 130 36 11.1 % 19.8 % 0.24 0.303 0.361 0.516 0.373 136 29.3
Mark Teixeira 231 12 12.2 % 16.5 % 0.243 0.289 0.373 0.521 0.382 133 29.3
Dustin Pedroia 90 102 9.1 % 8.6 % 0.159 0.311 0.369 0.461 0.362 119 28.9
Derek Jeter 86 133 8.2 % 13.3 % 0.116 0.35 0.376 0.428 0.356 117 28.1

Over that span the Marlins, the fans, the press and the community had one of the best players in baseball, but now that he’s gone to a major market team we chose to make him into a villain. I see why that can be such an easy thing to do. Sports fans feel like they’re owed something from their superstars, we’re paying your contract and in return we expect a championship – at least, your best performance, night in and night out. And since Hanley Ramirez didn’t give the people of Miami and the Marlins fans either, we’ve collectively concluded that he was to blame for everything that went down in him getting traded to the Dodgers. But Hanley as athletically gifted as he is, can only do so much with an injured shoulder, which plagued him during the 2012 season, both in Miami and in Los Angeles.

He was injured in 2012 and I remember that sometime during the 2011-12 off-season Hanley Ramirez compared himself and Jose Reyes to Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. That in one word is chutzpah, to compare yourself to Lebron James and then proceed to struggle at third base, slashing .246/.322/.437 with only 14 HR. Then the following year becoming a MVP caliber player again. The narrative in itself has merit but it is lazy and ignores the facts. Marlins fans that hold the view that Hanley Ramirez was “sandbagging” the team in 2012, can hold on to that notion despite it being wrong.

Another valid point relating to the backlash is not aimed directly at Hanley but at management and ownership, Hanley Ramirez in that sense is just a symbol, for all of the talent that Marlins had trade over the years because they couldn’t afford to keep them. Miguel Cabrera, Gary Sheffield, Livan Hernandez, Jeff Conine, Robb Nenn, to name just a few. Marlins fans are frustrated by management and ownership and rightly so and they feel, validly, that the 2012 season “binge and purge” is the ultimate manifestation of Jeffrey Loria playing with their emotions. Hanley being traded was not his fault and was not of his own doing he was just one more victim of having to play baseball for the Marlins franchise. Don’t worry, Giancarlo’s turn isn’t far off. He sure will look good in pinstripes or pelting the green monster seats.

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Tags: Hanley Ramirez Jeffrey Loria Los Angeles Dodger Miami Marlins

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