The Florida Marlins have been without starting shortstop Hanley Ramirez since August 2nd. Against the New York Mets at Citi Field, Ramirez made a diving effort on a shallow pop-up and wound up injuring his shoulder. Ramirez has been out ever since and the Marlins have gone just 4-19 in that stretch. The Fish are hopeful that Ramirez will make his return to the lineup on Wednesday. If that is the case, Ramirez will ironically make his return at Citi Field against the Mets. Florida is just 59-74 this year, but what has been glaring is the difference that Hanley Ramirez makes, when in the lineup.
Hanley Ramirez is in the midst of his worst ever season as a major leaguer. Ramirez is hitting just .243 with 10 homers and 45 RBIs. However, the Marlins are 51-40 in games in which Ramirez has played. The Fish without him, are an atrocious 8-34. Sure, Ramirez was hitting more than 60 points below his career average, but what he did for the Florida lineup is hard to calculate with numbers. While Mike Stanton has flourished of late, both Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison have seen a dip in batting average and the power numbers. Ramirez was not hitting for a large part of the year, but even during his worst slumps, Ramirez has been drawing walks, stealing bases and providing protection for the other guys in the middle of the lineup. The Marlins’ bench is also significantly thinner with Ramirez out of the lineup. Utility man Emilio Bonifacio has been forced to play as the every day shortstop and Greg Dobbs is forced to get the majority of the starts at third base. The middle of the batting order has been occupied by players like Mike Cameron and Jose Lopez; with no disrespect to either of those players, they are each better suited for the sixth or seventh spots in the order. Ramirez’s return would not only bring stability to the lineup, but to the bench as well.
Perhaps the biggest reason why the Florida Marlins have played so well with Hanley Ramirez in the lineup and so poorly without him, is because Ramirez has become one of the leaders in the Marlins’ clubhouse. In the past, Ramirez has been ciriticized for the effort he exerted on the field. Ramirez was benched last season by then, manager Fredi Gonzalez for not hustling on a pop fly that was kicked into foul territory down the left field line. This season, Ramirez’s effort received criticism for teammate Logan Morrison and former Marlin and current broadcaster, Jeff Conine. But this year, his effort has been much better; Ramirez has been hustling down the first base line and going all out in the field. His injury after all, was the result of extra effort; earlier this season, Ramirez voluntarily laid down a sacrifice bunt to move runners over. Many Marlins’ fans have clamored in favor of trading Ramirez, but what he does for the Florida lineup cannot be measured in numbers alone. There is a reason that the Fish have a .560 winning percentage with him and a .19 winning percentage without him. It’s not merely coincidence.