Tuesday, August 26, 2014

September is a big month for Hanley

Hanley Ramirez was activated off the 15-day DL on Sunday and started at shortstop against the Mets.  The Dodgers were trying to close out their homestand on a positive note by getting the sweep, one week after the Brewers swept them.

Well, things didn't go so well, as Kevin Correia was bombed, the defense committed another error, and the bats went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

As for Hanley, he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts hitting in the #5 spot.  The error was also partly his fault, as a low throw to Adrian Gonzalez got away.

Not exactly the type of impact the Dodgers were hoping Hanley would make.

That is why I'm looking at the home stretch of September (and hopefully beyond) as being huge for him.  Right now he's appeared in 101 of the 132 games the Dodgers have played, once again showing how injuries have kept him off the field, just like last year.

Unlike last year, when he has played, it hasn't been at an MVP level.  He's hitting .274 with a .363 OBP, 12 homers, 58 RBIs, and 12 stolen bases.  Those numbers certainly aren't bad, but the combination of Hanley and Puig last year really propelled the Dodgers into the postseason.  That version of Hanley hasn't showed up this year.

Keep in mind that this is Hanley's contract year, meaning he's free to test the free agency market after this season.  There's no doubt in my mind he would want to stay in LA, where he can play with a contending team and make a boatload of money.  But, as has been brought up many times already this year, how badly do the Dodgers even want him back?  Enough to break the bank to keep him?  I'm not so sure.

The scouting report on him probably looks something like this: injury prone, good hitter but not as impactful when he's banged up, and one of the worst defense shortstops in baseball.  The Dodgers are willing to overlook those defensive shortcomings when he's hitting.  But when he's not hitting?  It's a tricky situation.

If Hanley can step up in this last month plus, be the run producer in the middle of the order the Dodgers need, and at least hold his own at short, then the team as a whole is so much of a bigger threat.  He's shown in the past he can do it, so maybe he's about to breakout at any moment.

If he continues to just kind of tread water, then this could be the last season we see him in Dodger blue.

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