The biggest question with most people when it comes to Hanley Ramirez is, "How will he do playing first base?"
Ramirez's first year with the Red Sox was a disaster, as he struggled to make the transition from the infield to left field and the missed the last few months of the season due to injury.Ever since he arrived at JetBlue Park the big focus with Ramirez has been his adjustment to first and analyzing every move he makes while learning to play the position. A natural infielder, the transition should be much easier than the one last season to the outfield and a whole new scene.
What is being overlooked right now though is Ramirez at the plate and how much better he needs to be than he was last season. In his first season back with the Red Sox organization, Ramirez hit just .249 with 19 home runs and 53 RBIs. Even worse for Ramirez was that he hit 10 home runs in the month of April alone. The slugger struggled as the season wore on, as starting on June 1 he had just 14 extra-base hits the rest of the year.
Compared to the rest of the team, his output was not good. Mookie Betts had 24 more RBIs than Ramirez did, which is indicative of how the season went for the Red Sox – another last place finish.
The one thing to note with Ramirez is that he was battling injuries for most of the season. He played through a shoulder injury early in the year, which was likely a major reason why his power numbers were down after April and that was the reason why he was shut down for the season - essentially for the final two months.
Despite the additions to the rotation and bullpen, the Red Sox need Ramirez to hit. He will likely be batting fifth behind Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz in the lineup and they will need him to be able to drive in a lot of runs. Totaling 53 RBIs is not going to cut it. They need much more than that ... maybe double the output.
Ramirez’s .249 average was the second-lowest of his career, only his .243 average in also an injury-plagued year of 2011 was worse.
Speaking following Monday’s spring training opener against Boston College, Sox manager John Farrell was impressed with Ramirez and his swing.
"The one thing I've seen, and granted it's live BP, regular BP and a couple of at-bats in a game, but it's a more compact swing and if you notice, the finish is a two-handed finish rather than releasing the top hand,” Farrell told reporters. “He's repeating his swing. I'll temper it because it's early, but he looks to be in a good place with his swing.''
This a good sign for Red Sox Nation, as they desperately need Ramirez to be better at the plate than he was last season.