Coming into the 2014 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers had some big expectations for Hanley Ramirez. Coming off a season in which he tallied a number of MVP votes despite only playing in 86 games, the Dodgers could not help but wonder what Ramirez would be able to do over the course of a full season. The slash line of .345/.402/.638 was incredibly impressive, but should it have been considered sustainable?
The early returns of this season suggest that the output of the 2013 Ramirez was indeed unsustainable. Entering Saturday’s game, Ramirez had posted a slash line of .250/.327/.440, a far cry from his numbers of a year ago. His recent production has been down, and over the last month Ramirez slashed .219/.286/.396, though he did add five homers and 20 RBI during that time.
Then Hanley Ramirez went ahead and had a game that reminded everyone of the tantalizing ability he possesses.
Ramirez was perfect at the plate, going 4-for-4 in a win against the Pittsburgh Pirates, hitting two home runs and collecting five RBI, three of which were in two-out situations. He also scored four runs and, just for good measure, stole a base in the fifth inning. In this single game, Ramirez raised his average by 15 percentage points, and his slugging percentage jumped from .440 to .480.
The Dodgers, of course, cannot expect this type of single-game production from Ramirez every time out. The team does need Ramirez to be something closer to the player he was a season ago; the player who hit for average and for power and, along with Yasiel Puig, led the Dodgers to the postseason.
Don Mattingly may end up being responsible if Ramirez and the Dodgers do turn things around. Mattingly has shuffled the lineup a bit, moving Puig into the three-hole and dropping Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez down to the fourth and fifth spots, respectively. The two spot has been something of a rotating cast so far, as Mattingly has tended to favor speedier players at the top, but the offense exploded with Andre Ethier hitting second.
As the Dodgers saw a year ago, a hot Hanley Ramirez can ignite the entire offense. On one night in May, the team got a glimpse of just how important a productive Ramirez can be.
They now just have to hope that they see a whole lot more of the Ramirez of 2013.
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