No disrespect to Joe Mauer, his sideburns and the chase for .400, but why isn't Hanley Ramirez even getting 10% of the coverage Mauer is. The man is hitting .361 with a .996 OPS and 23 SB. He is outpacing his nearest NL counterpart, Pablo Sandoval, by 31 batting average points! I know batting average is a somewhat outdated statistic, but it is not like he is hitting slap singles like Derek Jeter. He combines this batting average with a .574 SLG, 37 doubles and 19 HR. Coming from a shortstop, which is no longer the offensive position it was during the Steroid Era, this is incredible.
Let's put some of these numbers in perspective. Ramirez has the third highest VORP (69.5) in the league, behind only Mauer and Albert Pujols. That number is also double all except four other shortstops. This means that Ramirez is twice as valuable offensively as almost EVERY shortstop in the league. The knock on Ramirez is years passed has been his defence, but he has a respectable UZR/150 of 1.5 this year.
Here are Hanley's rankings among shortstops in several significant categories:
· Average: 1st
· OBP: 1st
· SLG: 1st
· Doubles: 1st
· Home Runs: 2nd
· Runs: 3rd
· RBI: 1st
· Stolen Bases: 3rd
The only two players who can compare in this type of positional dominance are Pujols and Mauer. If he played in a city that actually had fans and media coverage, Ramirez would be an absolute golden boy. Imagine if Boston had not traded him for Josh Beckett. I am sure the Red Sox are very happy with what Beckett has provided them with, but shortstop has been one of their major weaknesses the last few years. With Ramirez they would have been absolutely unstoppable.
If it were not for Pujols, Ramirez would be a perennial MVP winner in the NL. Pujols suffered from the same problem with Barry Bonds for years, so hopefully Hanley will get his due soon. If I were to start a team tomorrow, Ramirez would be the guy I want starting every day at short stop, and would probably be the second position player on my list after Evan Longoria.