Who is the most important player for the Red Sox in the postseason, which kicks off Thursday (8 p.m., TBS)? It may not be who you think.
David Ortiz? Nope. Mookie Betts? Nope. David Price? Nope. Craig Kimbrel? Nope.
It's Hanley Ramirez.
The Red Sox need Ramirez more than any other player on their roster to come up big. If the Sox stick with the batting order they showed the final weekend of the season, Ramirez will bat behind Ortiz and if he can hit - he will force teams to pitch to Ortiz. If teams decide to pitch around Ortiz, the Boston first baseman can make them pay.
Overall this season, Ramirez hit .286 with 30 home runs and 111 RBIs, which were a career-high. The most RBIs he had before this year came in 2009 when he had 106 as a 25-year-old with the Marlins.
Ramirez is coming off his best month of the season as he batted .307 with 11 home runs and 27 RBIs in September/October. His 11 home runs in that stretch were more than he had in April, May and June combined. He also had a slugging percentage of .653 and an OPS of 1.045.
This season has been a big difference from the Ramirez of last year when he struggled in left field and battled a shoulder injury for most of the year.
"On his part, the understanding and maybe the recognition that he needed to be more approachable, a little bit more engaging as a person," manager John Farrell said recently. "And you know what, to his credit, he’s doing all that.”
The Red Sox had the best offense in all of baseball this year as they finished with 878 runs. The 878 runs were 100 more than any other American League team with the next closest AL team evidently being the Indians, who the Sox will face in the ALDS.
Postseason baseball is generally all about pitching, but with how dominant the Red Sox offense was this season, it has the chance to carry the team deep into October. The Red Sox have done well against all three of the projected Cleveland starters, which certainly bodes well for the Red Sox.
While Ortiz, Betts and everyone else in the lineup is important, Ramirez is the most important given his spot in the order and who comes up in front of him.
The Red Sox may only go as far as Ramirez can take them.