The “Hanley Ramirez Effect”By
When the Miami Marlins brought in Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle last winter, the main goal was to build around star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton and Co. in hopes that it would lead them back to the postseason for the first time since the magical 2003 World Series championship season. And as we look back on the first half of the 2012 season, one thing has become increasingly apparent: the Marlins’ postseason hopes, and perhaps that of the immediate future of the organization, rest in large part on the shoulders of Hanley Ramirez.
The 2012 campaign has been a roller coaster thus far, and the Marlins entered the All-Star break nine games behind the first-place Nationals. The early season struggles of Josh Johnson, continued struggles of Heath Bell, and injuries to Emilio Bonifacio and Giancarlo Stanton have all played a large part in why the Marlins were one of the most inconsistent teams in the first half of this season but if there’s one thing to take away above all, it’s that the Marlins will struggle to win games if HanRam struggles to produce.
It seems like a “duh” statement to say that if a team’s best player doesn’t play well, that team is also likely to struggle. But the correlation between HanRam’s struggles and that of the Fish’s are particularly striking.
For example, the Marlins finished the month of May firing on all cylinders, going 19-8 and finding themselves just one game back of first place in the NL East as the calendar turned to June. Hanley’s slash line? .322/.364/.525. But all of a sudden, just one month later, the Fish found themselves two games under .500 and 7.5 games behind the first-place Nationals. HanRam’s line for June? Just .227/.312/.381.
Even though the luck dragons may have been in cahoots with Ramirez to some extent during the month of May, there is still plenty of reason to see why HanRam’s success is a key indicator of the success of the club overall. Even with the luck on his side, when Hanley is hitting, it creates more and more on-base opportunities for the guys around him, thus creating the potential for more runs. That’s why it’s no surprise that the Marlins are 12-8 in games where Ramirez records two or more hits, with several of the eight losses coming at the hands of the back end of the Marlins’ bullpen.
As my colleague Griffin Klett pointed out last week, the rest-of-season ZiPS projections aren’t all that impressive for Hanley over the remainder of the season, with the projections having him at .274/.354/.447 for the rest of 2012. But with those numbers sitting right about in the middle of his May and June slash lines, the Fish can expect to have a chance to play .500 ball at the very least, with the opportunity to go on a long stretch of winning if the club gets a sudden spark from the lineup or a dominant week or two from the pitching staff.
The loss of Giancarlo Stanton may still be the most detrimental loss to the lineup in the short term, particularly because the Marlins have struggled to hit the ball out of the ballpark consistently this season. HanRam’s power has been in a steady decline since he hit a career-high 33 home runs in 2008 and even though he’s improved on his SLG% and ISO from his injury-shortened 2011 season, he’s not likely to go on a major power surge any time soon.
As it stands today, the Marlins sit 10 games out of first place in the East. With the way the Nationals have continued to play all season, it will be a monumental task to reach the top of the division if one of the franchise cornerstones, the one they call HanRam, isn’t able to pick up the offensive in the last few months of the season.