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Hanley Ramirez proved us wrong this season

As of Thursday, Hanley Ramirez was hitting .285 with 24 homers and 97 RBIs.ben margot.AP/Associated Press

Hanley Ramirez has an .846 OPS, seventh among major league first basemen. His 97 RBIs are second. He also has played in all but 13 games for the Red Sox.

When filling in as the designated hitter for David Ortiz, Ramirez has hit .325 with a .986 OPS in 10 games.

Based on how often he has played and his production, Ramirez is having his best season since 2010, when he was an All-Star with the Marlins.

Per Fangraphs, Ramirez is rated 15th defensively among first basemen. He has cost the team six runs with his glove, based on DRS, but so has Eric Hosmer.


Ramirez has been acceptable at first base, which is about 10 steps up from what it looked like the first few days of spring training.

So, yikes, was I ever wrong.

I wrote that the Sox needed to trade Ramirez and kept writing it all winter.

When that didn’t work, I wrote they could at least figure out a way to play him less.

Wrong, wrong, and wrong. There’s wrong, and then there’s aggressively wrong. I was the Michael Phelps of wrong.

At 32, Ramirez remade his career. He got in excellent shape last winter, reported to spring training with a cheerful attitude, and dedicated himself to winning.

Ramirez never sulked, ducked the media, or made excuses. After a rocky first season with the Sox, he was everything the team wanted when they signed him.

Here’s an example of what I mean. On July 28, Ramirez threw a ball away in the ninth inning against the Angels in Anaheim. The winning run scored in a gut-wrenching 2-1 loss.

After we got done interviewing John Farrell in his office and returned to the clubhouse, Ramirez was standing at his locker and waved us over.


He took every question, blamed himself, and promised he would get better.

Ramirez’s professionalism was such that several teammates came over and acknowledged it afterward. He came in the next day smiling and has not been charged with an error since.

The future is bright, too. Ramirez could stay at first base or become the DH next season. Ortiz is irreplaceable, but Ramirez could provide 30 homers and 100 RBIs from that spot, maybe more.

Ramirez has set an example for a player like Pablo Sandoval that redemption can be had, even in Boston.

As for me, I’ll try harder.

A few other observations on the Sox:

■   Yoan Moncada has been badly mishandled.

He was called up from Double A Portland on Sept. 2 and immediately named the starting third baseman. Dave Dombrowski and John Farrell said the 21-year-old was ready.

Moncada started four games before he was sent to the bench.

There was nothing wrong with calling up Moncada to get a taste of the majors. But why announce he’s the starter before he even plays a game? Just play him or don’t play him. No announcement was needed.

The Sox smoothly integrated players like Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts into their lineup in recent years. But Moncada was unnecessarily put in a position where he had to succeed or else. Being demoted after four games had to be embarrassing for him.

The Sox also looked past the fact that he struck out in 31 percent of his plate appearances in Double A. That is the level where pitchers have the ability to throw breaking balls for strikes at any point in the count. It’s an adjustment all hitters have to make and Moncada hasn’t made it yet.


Triple A is a necessary step, too. Moncada needs experience against older pitchers who will attack him in creative ways. He has been carved up in the majors and it should have been evident to the Sox that that would happen.

■   The Red Sox added Brian Bannister to their coaching staff on July 5 as essentially an assistant pitching coach. Since July 6, the team has a 3.48 ERA and the starters have a 3.56 ERA. Prior to July 6, the Sox had a 4.51 ERA and the starters had a 4.79 ERA.

The raw numbers suggest Bannister has had a great influence on the team, and anecdotal evidence confirms that to some degree. Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello are among the pitchers who have mentioned Bannister helping them out.

But the Sox also traded for Drew Pomeranz, and he was an upgrade from the assorted fill-ins who were getting starts. Eduardo Rodriguez also has a 2.76 ERA since coming back from the minors July 16.

David Price started pitching like David Price, too.

Improvement was inevitable because the Red Sox were so bad. But Bannister clearly has helped.

The question now is how best to use Bannister moving forward. He was promoted to director of pitching analysis and development a year ago, and the idea was for him to impact decisions made throughout the organization in terms of development, trades, draft picks, etc.


Bannister strikes me as somebody who sees his future being in the front office, not in uniform.

■   Porcello had a 9.77 ERA in four starts during spring training, allowing 29 hits in 15⅔ innings. He was so dreadful that the Sox made him the No. 4 starter coming out of the gate.

Ortiz hit .178 in spring training and had one home run — on his final at-bat.

The lesson as always: Never pay attention to spring training results for veterans.

■   Koji Uehara was out for seven weeks with a partially torn pectoral muscle. In four appearances since — without the benefit of a minor league rehabilitation appearance — he has thrown 50 of 63 pitches for strikes. That’s impressive.

Uehara’s best fastball on Wednesday was 87 m.p.h. But location and movement long ago trumped velocity for Uehara. He can handle the eighth inning.

■   If the Sox make the playoffs, it’s evident that Junichi Tazawa will not be on the roster. He has pitched only 12 times since Aug. 1 and has a 7.94 ERA and 1.82 WHIP.

Tazawa has appeared in 253 games the last four years and pitched well. But he is clearly worn out and will head into free agency with little hope of landing a good deal.

In the end, the Sox did what teams should do with middle relievers. They’re fungible assets, and it’s best to get what you can from them and move on. But it’s a shame for Tazawa, who took the ball without hesitation every time he was asked and now is paying the price.


■   MLB is picking a fan of the year for every team. You can check out the Red Sox candidates online and cast your vote on Twitter. Good luck to our friend, Lynne Smith. She’s the Crazy Hat Lady at Fenway

■   Roenis Elias was a disappointment. The lefty had a 3.97 ERA in 51 games for Seattle, 49 of them starts. The Sox saw him as a depth starter and possible bullpen arm. Instead he appeared in only three major league games. Elias worked as a starter for Pawtucket and was 10-5 with a 3.60 ERA, which is fine. But a 27-year-old probably should do that in Triple A.

■   The Sox paid Rusney Castillo and Allen Craig $19.5 million this season for two major league hits, both by Castillo. Craig has $12 million coming in 2017 and Castillo a whopping $46 million through 2020.

Counting majors and minors, Craig has hit .222 with 7 home runs in 616 at-bats since the Red Sox acquired him from St. Louis.

■   Two predictions: Bogaerts finishes strong and Rodriguez is one of their best starters over the final two weeks.

■   Have to hand it to Ortiz and his agents; no opportunity passed them by. There’s now an Ortiz candle being made by Yankee Candle.

The good news is $20 from every sale will go to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund. You can go here to try to win an autographed candle.

By the way, the candle has a “midsummer night” scent. So your place won’t smell like a baseball player.

Yankee Candle

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.