HANLEY RAMIREZ, 33 today, infielder
Final 2013 stats: .345 batting average, 20 home runs, 57 RBIs, 25 doubles, 62 runs, 10 steals, .402 on-base and .638 slugging percentages in 336 plate appearances.
Contract status: Next year he’ll earn $16 million in the final season of a six-year contract.
The good: When he was healthy, he was the best hitter in the National League. If he’d had enough plate appearances to qualify, he would have won his second batting title.
Hit both right-handers (.344) and left-handers (.389) equally well. Batted .368 with runners in scoring position. Had a 37-game stretch in the middle of the summer where he was crazy good (.410/.463/.736), which helped ignite the team’s 46-10 run.
Despite missing almost all of the first two months, finished second on the team in homers and RBIs. Played a better shortstop than most anticipated. Hit .500 (8 for 16) vs. Braves in division playoffs.
The bad: Injured his thumb after winning title in the Baseball World Classic for the Dominican and required surgery. Started the season April 29, played four games and strained his left hamstring and returned to the disabled list.
Cooled off for a 21-game stretch mostly in August, hitting .231 (14 for 78). Went 2 for 15 in National League Championship Series against Cardinals.
The take: Ramirez was one fun player to watch hit last season. He absolutely put the hurt on baseballs, hitting almost everything incredibly hard. If he had played the entire season, he would have been the league MVP.
I was against playing him at shortstop, particularly with faith shaken in Uribe, but he proved reliable. He still doesn’t get to as many balls as you would expect with someone with his speed, but he handled what he did get to and committed a tolerable 13 errors.
Ramirez enjoys playing here after some difficult times in Miami, and wants a new long-term deal with the Dodgers. There’s no hurry, though, and it would be prudent for the Dodgers to see him stay healthy and duplicate last year’s production before signing him to some multiyear extension.
He can be a little moody, but has not been the troublemaker painted with the Marlins. He emerged as one of the team leaders and appears to have earned the clubhouse respect of Yasiel Puig, which does not seem an easy task.
The Dodgers are clearly a superior team when Ramirez is in the middle of the lineup. He is that "impact bat" teams almost dream about, so he figures to be around awhile. And happy birthday, Hanley.