Comparing Mike Stanton and Hanley RamirezBy
Two years ago, the Marlins best player was without a doubt Hanley Ramirez. He was coming off back-to-back fantastic seasons, and was runner-up in the National League MVP voting. Not to mention, at only 25 years old, he was only beginning to enter his prime. Hanley’s performance certainly made it easy for fans and media alike to acclaim him as the face of the franchise, as they should have. Back then, Mike Stanton was but a 19-year old playing in double-A ball. Now, however, the picture is not so clear, and there is no easy answer to the question of whom, of the two players, was, and will be, the better player.
After posting two 7+ Wins Above Replacement seasons, expectations were high for Ramirez coming into 2010. As we all know, things have spiraled downward. Some causes for the dip in production, such as injuries, have been the result of bad luck. Others have criticized him for not hustling on the field, as well as the apparent lack of leadership he has displayed (or, rather, has not displayed). I’m sure the majority of fans have heard this told far too many times, so I won’t reiterate the topic further.
Stanton, on the other hand, burst onto the scene last June as one of the youngest players in the game. He has since responded by hitting 56 Homeruns, and posting 7.3 Wins Above Replacement in just under 1000 plate appearances.
Hanley’s career numbers obviously trump Stanton’s (as Ramirez will be entering his 7th full season to Mike’s third), but the statistics from their first two seasons are comparable. Using these numbers, over at Marlin Maniac, Ehsan Kassim makes his case supporting Hanley Ramirez. While I have the utmost respect for Kassim, unfortunately I can’t agree with his method of reasoning in this case. In his post, the author cites statistics from both players first two years in the MLB.
Here are the numbers he uses in defense of that statement
|First Two Seasons:||PA||AVG||OBP||SLG||wOBA||WAR|
While Ramirez holds an edge in those numbers, I think it would be rash to go as far as Kassim does, when he says
“Hanley’s first two seasons completely blow Stanton’s first two seasons out of the water. There is really no comparison between the two.”
Firstly, the statistics are not as pro-Ramirez as they may seem. The three win difference at the right end of the column can be almost entirely explained by the 400+ more At-Bat’s Hanley had in the two years. If Stanton’s WAR is extended to 1406 AB’s (as many as Ramirez), his WAR would be identical to Hanley’s, at 10.3. The OBP and wOBA both are comparable, Stanton leads in Slugging, and Ramirez has the edge in Batting Average. Still, nothing here that would justify calling Hanley’s first two seasons that much better than Stanton. Honestly, a case could be made that Stanton actually played better during his first two years, especially if one is looking for a player with power.
Secondly, and more importantly, is the difference between the ages of the two when they played their first two years. After a brief call-up in the September of 2005, Ramirez played his first two full seasons during 2006 and 2007. During his first season Hanley was 22 years old. In contrast, Stanton played his first year in the Big Leagues at age 20. Here is where Stanton separates himself from Ramirez. Essentially, he produced at the same level Hanley did in his first two seasons, but Stanton did it while he was two years younger.
In essence, Kassim compared Hanley’s performance from ages 22-23 to Stanton’s production at ages 20-21. The two years of extra development and more experience would be another advantage that Hanley had, but Stanton did not. In this situation, Stanton is certainly going to be at a significant disadvantage, and it would be more prudent to withhold judgment of “who had the better first two seasons” until after Stanton’s 23rd birthday, where a comparison can be made while looking at performances compiled at similar ages.
Along with comparisons through each player’s first two seasons, fans have been divided over whom will be the team’s better player going forward. To which, we simply don’t know. Will Hanley ever be healthy again? Will Stanton continue to develop as a player, or has he already reached his peak? With as many questions and variables as there are surrounding the two players, we won’t be able to make conclusion regarding “who will be the better player” until at least after 2012 is well underway.